Processing tips from a newbie

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by trsturself, Sep 10, 2013.

  1. trsturself

    trsturself Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2013
    Elizabeth, CO
    We just processed 6 of our chickens with some friends as a trial run. None of us had ever done this before. I read the threads, read books, watched videos and felt pretty ready but learned a lot that first time.

    Things to have ready before you start... A place to hang the birds to let them bleed out. A big pot of near boiling water. A bucket of ice water. A bucket with a bag in it for trash pieces (feathers, heads, feet, etc). Some good knives including a small one for inside. A place to do the killing/bleeding out where you don't mind blood. A place for cleaning them where you don't mind chicken guts being.

    We found the easiest way to kill them was to snap their neck. The first person tried chopping their head off and it was a disaster. If you just give their head a strong tug (not too much or you'll pull it right off) it separates from their spinal cord and kills them instantly and they aren't all stressed out. That's important because those stress hormones can make the meat taste bad. Our group used a thin board on the neck on the ground and then just pulled on the head. The first person to try pulled the head clean off. The rest just pulled enough to sever the connection. Be prepared, they WILL flop all over the place. Best to have your hands on their body. It is much easier with two people. I'll have to ask my husband if he has more tips for this stage since I didn't participate. Still can't bring myself to do it. I watched though which is a big step for me. I did participate in the rest of the process.

    Next we hung them to bleed. Have a place ready. We were scrambling because we hadn't thought of this.
    Next we dunked them in near boiling water. We started the water boiling in a HUGE pot over the stove then moved it outside over a fire to keep it hot. It only takes a few seconds for the feathers to loosen. We would dunk count to 10 and test. Just pull on a couple feathers, if they come out easily, you're done.
    This step seemed to take the longest since we didn't have a automatic plucker. We did it all by hand. It's amazing how easily the feathers come out but there are so many little ones it takes some time. Don't worry about the fine ones. Once you get to that point just dunk it one more time in the hot water or hold it near the flame (not too close, you just want to singe the hairs not cook the chicken!)
    Next came the evisceration. Watch as many videos as you can on this step and then just be prepared to fumble your way through it. Once you do one or two though you'll get the hang of it.
    Have a bucket of cold/ice water ready. This is another thing we were scrambling for. You'll need this for storage.

    We also tried skinning two of them to see which was easier. I personally liked the plucked chicken better if you are leaving it whole. My husband, who did the skinning, said it wasn't too bad. Kinda like skinning any other animal, although the wing tips give you trouble, so just cut those off. The ones we skinned I cut into pieces right then which made cooking easier later. So they both had their benefits.
  2. NanaLynn

    NanaLynn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 1, 2012
    Good post, thanks for sharing.
  3. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2013
    Cleveland OH
    I found skinning and cleaning a small chicken to be really easy. I have done rabbits and pigs before, and rabbits are just built for food and the easiest things ever to clean, whereas pigs are impossible to clean and don't want to be eaten even in death. Chickens are closer to rabbits than pigs for gutting. I found it really easy, especially with skinning, to separate the windpipe, cut around the vent, tie it off, and then split the body cavity open to the legs and just pull everything out from below. I imagine it would be similar with regards to a plucked chicken.
  4. gypsychicken

    gypsychicken Out Of The Brooder

    Nice post.
    I'm on my third generation. All by myself here, I feel a bit isolated, so come to the internet for solace. Wish I had a pack friends to laugh, cry and work with on this. Here is my story and one of my favorite chicken processing vids:

    Respectful Chicken harvesting: How do I deal with conflicting emotions?

    Tomorrow I take out 2 of the 12 week old roos. Of course, they are the cutest and most personality of the bunch. They are best friends, always hanging out, the first of the bunch to fight and draw blood. This is my third generation and this flock is different. I went to the feedstore where a lovely lady sold me 12 fertilized eggs from her farm for $3.50. 8 out of 12 hatched, one gone, 3 out of 7 roos.

    Now I've got 4 old Ladies, one to three eggs a day, and 7 Juveniles eating me out of house and home.

    Today the plymouth rock with the pea comb tried to crow, "arooooooooooo" "aroooooo". So darn cute!


    I wish we could have a rooster, but my landlord says no.

    I'm in hard luck financially right now. I have 4 year old Ladies and 7 juveniles and not enough money to buy feed or organic chicken meat at the store. I've been doing this 3 years and at least I didn't name them, or cuddle them too much, well, a little.

    The first batch I killed them one by one: Joselito, Miss Lucille Tucker, La Loca, Cry Baby, and Rojelia. I never cried so hard in my life, I think. It was the hardest thing I ever did. I couldn't eat for 24 hours.

    This time its different. I watched them hatched one by one in the little hen house under one of my beautiful broody buff orppingtons. I call her Mamma. She did such a good job, such a good mother until 6 weeks, when she rejected them. It was hard to enjoy their amazing beauty when I knew I was raising them to kill them.

    So strange, so hard. I wanted to do this, to know the circle of life, to live off of my land, to understand something lost in our world that needed to be rediscovered. I didnt know what beautiful, gentle souls chickens had, what affectionate, loving creatures they were. I turned them every day under Mama, 'cause I didn't see her doing that. I protected them and ensured their safety and comfort. I laughed and cried when they were born. Now, I have the power to take their life. And eat them. I swear I could become a vegetarian except for the fact that I love my fried chicken! I've done the whole thing with the old gals: chicken pot pies, poullete au vin, stock, stews, soups.

    The two boys are in a kennel tonite with only water and straw. I'll take them out tomorrow morning. I'll hold them between on my lap, cut the jugular and bleed them out while I feel the life leave their little bodies. DON'T LOOK THEM IN THE EYE, actually, DON'T LOOK AT ALL!!! Let them rest a few days and have either fried chicken or marinate them in a garlic, soy sauce, lemon for a few days, broil and serve with mashed potatoes on the side.

    How do I deal with my conflicting emotions?

    This video helped me ALOT! She is so wonderful:

    I'll repost this.Anyone have a few kind words? I know it's practical, it's logical, it's natural, its the way things have been since 5,000 AD, but, why is it so hard!?
  5. trsturself

    trsturself Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2013
    Elizabeth, CO
    I repeat to myself, "I gave you subsistence and life and now you give me subsistence and life".
  6. gypsychicken

    gypsychicken Out Of The Brooder

    I've processed a dozen or so by now and am fine with all of that, it's the killing part that still shakes me up. But this time it was better and as far as I can tell, that's how it works, gets easier and easier.
  7. Chickens R Us

    Chickens R Us Chillin' With My Peeps

    Today I processed 4 of the roosters I hatched this spring in my incubator. I thought it would be harder because I had hatched them but it really wasn't, I just never named them not seriously anyway. I called them Dumpling ,Stew, Soup and Green, I put a green zip tie on one I was thinking about keeping for breeding.I have 6 more to do next week named Dumpling, Stew and Soup.

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