Questions on slaughtering / butchering...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Davis5454, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. Davis5454

    Davis5454 In the Brooder

    Jan 17, 2009
    I slaughtered 3 roosters (my first attempt)....I don't remember exactly when....but my wife thinks they were about a year old. I was thinking 6 months...but she's likely right.

    I took a hand hatchet and cut off their heads. It was harder than I thought. It took several swipes to get the head off and I felt bad about that. I'm considering trying to cut an artery next time to let them bleed out.

    I hung them upside down from a tree branch to let the blood run out...but didn't really see any come out.

    I was slow in trying to figure out how to get the skin off and the guts out. The birds got very stiff while working with them.

    The meat was soooooo tough that it was barely any good even to stew. The legs wouldn't even cook. The breast meat was tough in the stew.


    I've heard adrenaline can ruin meat...did I do something wrong in slaughtering them that would have caused adrenaline to mess it up?

    Was the rigor mortise an issue? Should I have been quicker or let them sit longer before freezing them?

    Is there something I should do different in aging / processing? I've heard to let them sit in a pot of ice-water in the refrigerator overnight.

    Or was the whole thing just an age issue and i'm reading too much into it?

    Any tips on killing and having tender birds would be appreciated. The more the better!
    I want to kill a turkey when he's old enough and want to make sure I do it right and have a good meal.

    Thanks to all in advance!!!



  2. chickensrfood

    chickensrfood In the Brooder

    Jul 24, 2010
    They probably sat to long before you skinned/cleaned them. That is why they were stiff. Try next time to cut the neck and let them bleed out, and bleed they will and as soon as it seems to stop go ahead and either pluck or skin them. Some let them rest a few days in the fridge.

    I just ate a guinea a dog had killed let it set 4 days then roasted it and it was awesome.

    By the way 6 months would not be really old.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010
  3. Omniskies

    Omniskies Songster

    Mar 7, 2008
    You may have cooked him at too high a temperature and for too long. We're all used to cooking big fat Cornish chickens from the store that are coated in a thick layer of fat, which will baste them and keep them tender. All of that extra meat also requires longer to cook. But when you are using heritage breeds you'll want to cook at a lower temperature for nowhere near as long.

    Pretend like a heritage chicken is a brand new exotic bird and then go from there. Once you stop trying to think of it as a broiler it will help immensely. Once you've decided this is a new type of animal, I would either quarter the bird and cook all of the pieces separately or simmer in a slow cooker for broth/tender meat. Once you have that down you can try your other favorite recipes.

    For heritage roosters I'll do the following things:

    Simmer in the slow cooker for 8~ hours. Once done, the broth goes to make Tomato Florentine or Gulash (don't tell the family - Gulash is just Tomato Florentine with more noodles and with hamburger added). This is because there's only so much chicken soup a family can eat before they go on strike. Even tasty chicken soup. The meat that comes out of the slow cooker can be made into BBQ sandwiches. Just add your favorite BBQ sauce, mix it all together, and put it on bread/toast/etc.

    If the whole thing doesn't go in the slow cooker then I will usually debone the bird (the bones still go in the slow cooker and the meat to chicken soup or BBQ sandwiches [​IMG], and will chop it up into bite-sized pieces. From there it becomes Bourbon Street Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Popcorn Chicken, Korean BBQ Chicken, Baked Mushroom Gravy Chicken, or Cashew (/Sweet 'n' Sour) Chicken. The breast can be filled with broccoli and cheese, or whatever you want, then bound together and either baked or breaded and fried. You can also wrap it in bacon if you're a firm believer in Eat Well, Die Young (we are).

    Incidentally, I do the exact same thing with any rabbits I dress out. I tend to skin my birds, which is a big reason why I normally do things this way. The skins I dry out then use the feathers for various crafts. I freeze my broth in ice cube trays then toss them in bags and use them as needed. Next year I plan on finally getting the pressure cooker out and canning the broth properly since I plan on filling my freezer to the breaking point.
  4. Davis5454

    Davis5454 In the Brooder

    Jan 17, 2009
    Do you set yours in water? Or just on a covered dish?

  5. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Here's a great video tutorial on dispatching, skinning, & gutting a chicken:

    your finished birds rest in the refrigerator, and then cooking slowly with low heat and plenty of moisture will make them more tender & tasty for eating.
  6. remadl700

    remadl700 Songster

    Nov 18, 2009
    When we processed our FR's I used two killing cones that I made from sheets of aluminum, total of $12. I made two sizes due to the difference in size of chickens we were butchering. I purchased these at Home Depot already cut to size and then rolled them up and pop riveted them in place. I have found from all the discussions that this is by far the easiest way to kill/bleed a chicken and contain the mess. I have never lost a chicken out of the cones but I did have one do a complete 180 degree flip in one post cut. Again this is the most controlled and easiest way to dispatch these guys.
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    A bird a year old will be tough and dry no matter how long or slow you cook it...unless you do it in a pressure cooker. When I process older birds I just can them. They come out tender, tastey and ready to make into soups, stews, casseroles, etc.

    A six month old roo can be marinated and grilled to perfection....lovely flavor and texture.

    You can make a killing cone out of an upturned bleach bottle with a few seconds cutting and nailing to a fence or tree. Much easier than trying to chop off the heads. Just deposit in the cone, slice the throat, let bleed out ~while you are processing one, you can bleed out another. Makes for a much more efficient and quicker process time if you have some flow.

    Resting the meat in the fridge, with or without water, for 24-48 hours before freezing, cooking or canning can also help you have more tender meats.

  8. chickensrfood

    chickensrfood In the Brooder

    Jul 24, 2010
    I usually wrap the whole bird in saran wrap and let it set in the fridge.
  9. Davis5454

    Davis5454 In the Brooder

    Jan 17, 2009
    You guys are great! Thanks for all the advice.

    I'll take all of it I can get.

    I've been skinning the birds....but will likely pluck the turkey and freeze him.
    Same 6 month window with turkeys? He's getting close.

    The way the price of Milk, meat, and gas is going.....I want to get as self sufficient as I can get.
    We're doing Dexter cattle now....and pigs / goats will be soon. Of course this is happening at my farm and dad's. We're doing this together as my survival plan and his retirement fun!

    OH....we milked one of our Dexter's this summer....IT WAS GREAT!!! Alot to learn yet though.
    I also traded one of our young bulls for a young Jersey.....
    That' milking thing (butter / cheese / etc...) is really about to take off! (haha)
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2010

  10. Davis5454

    Davis5454 In the Brooder

    Jan 17, 2009
    Quote:Any details on cutting the throats? Just slice one jugglar? Slice all the way across? Take the head?

    Anyone ever hear of or experience the "adrenaline runing the meat" thing?

    I'm guessing my wife was right and that the bird was closer to a year old. She usually is right (don't tell her I said that!)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by