Processing lots at one time

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by PotterWatch, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. PotterWatch

    PotterWatch My Patronus is a Chicken

    Apr 22, 2008
    I have been asked by a local CSA farm if I would be able to help them process their excess of roosters. It would be done as kind of a workshop to teach others how it is done. I have processed my own birds before, but not very many and I made it clear that I am not fantastic at it but at least I know the basics. Are there any tips that would be helpful when processing around 50 birds at one time? For a killing cone, I have been using a traffic cone that I cut the end off of to make it short enough. Does someone have an easy (and cheap!) way to make several cones that work better than traffic cones? Would there be a better way of doing it than using a cone? Thanks for any help!
  2. kingmt

    kingmt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2009
    Mason WV
    It depends on how big the birds are. I used a 1 gal. juice bottle for most birds but the biggest Cornish X didn't fit. You can also tie a string around the wings or tape them & hang them by the feet. You could just cut the neck & let them run if you don't care about the mess. The cones are the best way though.

    Two or three cones would move them pretty fast though. So why do you need a bunch of cones?
  3. hildymarie

    hildymarie Out Of The Brooder

    May 13, 2009
    da UP of Michigan
    We used a clothes line, it is a metal one actually made of high tensile wire fencing. I would imagine you can set up some sort of rack to serve the same purpose. An old long metal coat rack maybe? You only need to have a few hanging at any one time. Once you have your chicken upside down, tie its legs together then to the line. Used plastic bailing twine works great for this. One person can hold chicken steady and wings together while the other holds its head and does the neck slice, both continueing to hold for a couple of minutes. Once you have a good stream going and it starts slowing you can do the count of three and both persons step away very quickly in case there is any flap left in the bird. I dont know if regular chickens are as strong as our pteridactyls were but if you didnt step away from these ones when they flapped, you nearly got bruised.
    Hopefully you can do this outside so you can let the blood just drain and hose it into the ground immediately.
    You can stagger them on a line so you arent doing the next one immediately beside the one that is finishing up. We always let it hang a bit after we were sure it was dead just to make sure.
    After the first couple and a demonstration of how to scald, pluck and doing the actual butchering you can have people start doing them themselves with your help and answering questions. Have a clean barrel of cold water to put the plucked ones in to start cooling before butchering. Have another one to toss the finished bird into after butchering. Have a bucket for entrails and another clean bucket with cold water in to toss the gizzards, hearts, necks or whatever of the small parts you want to keep that you can divvy up to pack up with the birds when you are done. Have the CSA supply disposable rubber gloves and aprons. Also the plastic bags for packing them up afterwards, we had to use 2 gallon ones but normal chickens would prolly only take one gallon ones. The disposable castrating blades from TSC would make for great sharp knives for the slitting and much of the cutting.
    I know you already have this part figured out , I was just trying to figure out how to do it as a workshop with people being able to do it hands on.
  4. Winsor Woods

    Winsor Woods Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2009
    Cascade Range in WA
    If you do a google search for "killing cone flashing" you'll find several ways to make metal killing cones out of roof flashing. Basically you get 16" roof flashing and cut a length of about 30-34 inches. The you measure to the center and mark the midway point. Then from this midway point, you measure out about 8-8.5 inches and mark those points on one edge of the flashing. This will allow you to cut the flashing so it's 34 inches long on one edge and 16-17 inches on the other.

    Then you mark a line from one edge of the flashing to the other, starting at one of the end corners and going diagonally towards the nearest mark you made from the centerline. Then repeat with the other end. Use tin snips to cut the line. Then you roll the flashing up and over lap the ends by about an inch. Drill 3 or 4 holes in the overlapping part and secure with rivets or bolts. If you use bolts, put the bolt into the holes from the inside and the nuts on the outside so there is less for the bird to rub against. Carriage bolts would be good for this because they are rounded and smooth.

    Since this is a CSA, catch the blood in a bucket and compost it, or you can do what we do. We have wooden compost bins and we made a framework so that there is a horizontal wooden beam that is over our bin. We use this to hang the chickens from while bleeding out and the blood goes right into the compost so you cut out the middle man (bucket) so to speak.

    I think you're definitely right about bleeding them out. Since this is a community operation and you'll want people to be able to store their birds for a while in the freezer. Getting as much blood out as you can will increase the storage time. You need the birds heart beating to get that blood out. I think it also makes it taste better to get the blood out.

    Don't know if you have a plucker or not. There are some great threads on homemade pluckers here. you can make cheap ones that are drill mounted (don't use a cordless drill, make sure it plugs in). Or you can make a "wizbang" plucker that will completely pluck a whole chicken in about 30 seconds without you having to touch the bird. You just drop it in the plucker and let it go. If you have lots of birds to process, which I suspect you might, a wizbang plucker is the way to save yourself lots of time. You still might have a few pins to remove but that's easily taken care of with a pinning knife or table knife. Needle nose pliers work too if there aren't too many however I spend more time cleaning the pins off the pliers than I do pulling pins so a table knife would work well because you just wife it to get rid of the pins.

    I'd set up stations. You have your killing cones, your plucking, you're gutting, and your cooling/storage. Have the people do several chickens at each station and then rotate.

    For the storage/cooling, have a couple of clean 33 gallon trash cans or those big 55 gallon plastic barrels with a top cut off. Get LOTS of ice and you can use those to soak/ice the birds until they are ready for freezing. Salt will help to lower the temp of the ice, cooling the birds faster. Let them age for 2 days or so and then part out (if you want parts) and freeze.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by