Processing steps

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by yyz0yyz0, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    I'm sure this has been answered a million times but a quick search yielded too many results which didn't contain the info I'm seeking.

    Anyway, so far I"ve processed maybe 6-8 older birds for the freezer, these older birds I simply skin after gutting then they get rinsed and sit in the fridge for several days before I move them to the soup pot or freezer for later. Most I've done at a time is two birds.

    In the case of older skinned birds I complete one bird then catch the next bird and process it. I've reduced the time required quite a bit since the first bird.

    A couple weeks ago I processed my first "roasting birds"(young roosters), which I hand plucked.

    My question involves the processing steps when plucking birds with the water bath method.

    I used a turkey fryer with water in the pot for my hot water dip. So while the water heated I assembled my other tools.
    My processing of these three birds was kind of haphazard so far as my methods and steps. One of the things that made me change my steps midprocessing was that I realized I was leaving the water heating all the time I was doing other processing, so that got me to wondering if I could be more efficient in my water heating and process steps.

    So how do others do more than one or two birds?
    Do you fully process one then on to the next?
    Do you dispatch and hang the birds till all are ready, then dip each bird and rehang then after all dipped turn off water and pluck?

    Basically what steps need to be done right after each other and what can be done to all the birds before moving on to the next processing step?

    for the few birds I"ve processed I"ve never used a water bath to chill, I just finish my 1-3 birds then rinse in cold water and into the fridge for several days. Is a water bath chill needed if the birds are put in the fridge pretty quickly after dispatching?

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2016
  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'm in taking a break from processing some cockerels today [​IMG].

    The best tip I've picked up is to use a large cooler chest for the hot water. I heat it on the stove in a large canning pot, then pour into the cooler. The cooler keeps it warm--I overheat a bit to allow for some cooling during pouring, etc. But a good cooler will keep it at temp for quite a while with the lid intact. This way I'm not running propane, etc the entire time and trying to keep the flame just right, not overheat, etc.

    I loop baling twine around the feet and pop them in the cooler, with the twine as a handle outside the lid. Didn't think about that the first time, and trying to fish a bird out of hot water was not the bestest of ideas [​IMG]. Anyway, bird in the cooler, lid on, and rock it back and forth to agitate. Pull that bird out, seal the lid back on and the water stays nice and warm.

    I only do a few birds each batch, so I tend to do one bird at a time, start to finish. This works best for me because if I have to quit at some point, I can usually finish the single bird I'm working on. If I had 4 plucked birds that still needed to be gutted and finished and had to quit, it would be more difficult. But, that's for me. I can sure see the effeciency of doing each step---slaughter/bleeding out, scalding, plucking, gutting...all birds at once.

    I don't know how long the scald holds so to speak--if you scald a bird but don't pluck for say 30 min cause it's the last one, is it harder to pluck? maybe someone else can answer that.

    I'm not so worried about chilling right away. I process the bird, bring inside and rinse/finish with cool water. Into that same big canning pot with cold water and salt. That pot sets on the counter or cold stove until all the birds are processed and I carry the entire thing out to the fridge outside in one trip. Today, that first bird will probably be there about 4 hours. I"m not concerned about the meat spoiling or anything, it's going to be brined and cooked.
  3. Chicken girl 15

    Chicken girl 15 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2015
    harpursville ny
    I process 10-20 at a time. I started doing step by step bird by bird and that took FOREVER!!!!! So I tried bleeding a few then skinning then gutting. We don't eat the skin.

    1- quickly hang 5 birds by feet
    2- remove head and bleed out
    3- cut from vent to missing head and peel skin off, oh yeah cut around each ankle
    4- remove vent and innards.

    I can finish 5 birds in 30 minutes. No I'm not an old timer I'm still in my first summer of meat processing. It's a very simple process if you have a bit of patients to wait for the bleed out.
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    A kind of asked this question previously, you might get some more tips from that thread.

    I only do 3-4 birds at at time for several reasons, mostly because I have no help and that's all I can take in one session.
    Young cockerels in the late spring(before 16 weeks) and old hens in the fall once the pullets are all laying.
    The set up and clean up take more time than the slaughtering itself, but I'm getting faster at all of it each time, have done about a dozen or so.

    I do one bird at a time from kill to chill, like donrae says in case I need to stop I won't leave birds partially 'done'.
    Slaughtering extra cockerels and old hens is a different thing than doing a bunch of meat birds.

    I actually crank my water heater up for about 20 minutes to get water out of the nearby laundry tap at about 140F.
    Doesn't take much propane to get it up to 150-160 and keep it there, an easy to adjust burner really helps.
    I've borrowed several, I don't own one, and one was much easier to operate than the other 2.
    Plucking immediately after scalding is key to ease of plucking I think, I let one cool off once and it was much harder to pluck.

    I use a quick rinse bucket dunk after gutting, then into a cooler with salted ice water, the salt really keeps the ice solid much longer, again to give myself time if I need it.
    Then into kitchen for final rinse and feather/follicle clearing, rest in fridge for 48-72 hours before cooking/freezing.

    Oh, came up with a really slick way to hang birds for plucking, spring loaded broom holders/hangers.
    Put a 30 gallon garbage can below for feathers.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016

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