quick and dirty? solo "doing in"

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by kefiren, Oct 24, 2011.

  1. kefiren

    kefiren Songster

    This is my first post, though I've been lurking quite a bit. Love the site, thanks for all the help I've gotten here over time. I live on a little homestead and have lots of roosters right now and my abattoir has stopped taking poultry. oops.

    In the olden days I bet that country women used to "do in" just one chicken at a time quite often (without helper involvement) and then process it into food (without freezer involvement). I'm thinking the process was "quick and dirty" (was that the origin of the phrase?)

    Most of the stuff you see on youtube is about the very best way for (at least two) people to slaughter a bunch of chickens and get them into the freezer.

    I bet there are tricks to doing just one chicken for dinner, solo. Hopefully with a minimalist amount of gear? I once read about a guy who would clean his freshly-caught fish right in the garden. That's the kind of efficiency I'm talking about.

    An elder of mine said "wring the neck". But that isn't going to work for me, I have no strength. I also doubt I can manage a hatchet with any precision while holding a *rooster*. So, maybe the killing cone?

    Any suggestions or reading material? I've never killed a chicken. I do have an experienced friend who is willing to help me out first time, but I will have to be independent eventually. She and her husband use a hatchet.

    thanks in advance

  2. With no strength to swing a hatchet, minimalistically speaking, I would use a sharp knife, just like I do on my fish.
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    I was killing chickens, quickly and efficiently when I was 8 or 9 years old. I don't think I had an abundance of strength.

    My grandmother and my dad taught me. Please blame them if my technique doesn't match yours. [​IMG]

    We'd hook the chicken with a chicken crook. The bird settles down in a few seconds and some don't struggle much at all. Grab both feet firmly. With practice, you can take both wing tips and both feet into one hand's grasp. Without wings to flap, the meat will not get bruised. I know some folks let the headless chicken flop, but that was a big no-no in my childhood training. With one hand holding both feet and with the wing tips pulled into that same grasp, the other hand is freed to swing the hatchet. Lay the bird's neck onto the chopping block. The neck will tend to extend, giving you a great target. One swift swing, with reasonable back swing. Practice on sticks to give yourself confidence, with an old hatchet. Your killing hatchet should be razor sharp. Done.

    Do not let the bird go!! The nerves will kick up, but just continue to hold and drain the blood into a bucket or just onto the ground. If you've more to do, you can slip the headless carcass into a tapered sleeve which will continue to hold the bird while you go get another. If you're only doing one at a time, proceed.

    To scald/pluck or to skin is your choice. Increasingly, folks seem to be skinning as they don't want the skin anyhow. Skinless chicken is increasingly popular.
  4. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    I do all my own chickens, by myself. I've actually processed a lot of different game animals from squirrels to deer by myself. It just takes a little know how and a sharp knife.

    There is a link in my signature for how to process at home, on your own, with minimal "tools". Check it out [​IMG]
  5. BitsyB

    BitsyB Chirping

    Aug 30, 2010
    Northern Delaware
    Get the friend! if I had a friend who was willing to teach me how to kill a chicken I would take them up on their offer. In my mind the best way to learn something is to have someone who knows how to show you.

    As for not having the skin of the chicken, I think thats silly- the skin from pasture raised chickens is good for you, not to mention it tastes wonderful!
  6. just2rosey

    just2rosey Songster

    Jan 7, 2011
    New Kent
    I will share what we did today, it felt simple to me, it my first time as an adult, so you might be encouraged by my experience. [​IMG] We butchered five today, it was my husbands first time killing. We used a hatchet, it only weighs a pound, so it isn't hard to swing. We caught the chickens, I tied the feet of each bird together with bailing twine. We had two nails about an inch or two a part in a tree stump. We placed the neck between the nails, and stretched the bird out holding it by its feet, then one chop and it was done. We hung them up on the garden fence to drain by the string around their feet. Then I skinned them, cleaned them out, and popped them in an icy brine for a couple of hours. I used a knife to open a slit in the skin so I could undress the bird, and used kitchen scissors for cutting off the tail and wing tips, and used garden pruners for cutting off the neck. It really was quite simple, and went surprisingly fast, it only took me a couple our hours to process them all and clean up the mess. Today was my first time doing it alone (hubby only took off the heads, the rest was all me) , but I grew up on a farm we routinely butchered chickens as a family when I was a kid. It's not that hard, don't let it over whelm you. You can do it. [​IMG]
  7. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    You are much better off with a killing cone but if you are like me and don't have one yet you can tie the feet together and hang the bird over something (I use my old clothesline), then you can take the bird by the back of the neck and hold it while you slit the front. You need a strong sharp knife. I have used several sharp knives but until I got a nice strong one, it was hard to get a good cut the first time. Cut just under the chin on either side of the front of the neck.
    I have also just caught a rooster in the yard, held it down with my legs and slit the throat. The cutting is not near as bad as the bird moving afterwards that is why I like to hang them better; then I can walk away and don't have to watch it die.
  8. Homestead Family

    Homestead Family In the Brooder

    Jun 17, 2011
    Pleasant Hill, MO
    We are all about the minimalist approach. One person can easily kill and clean a chicken. We often make it a "friends and family" event in large part because it provides a chance for us all to get together for some good old fashioned conversation and bonding. Yet, with that said, doing it by yourself can certainly be done.

    I would recommend a killing cone, but don't buy one. They are way overpriced. We made ours. We found some soft rubber orange safety cones - they are only inches tall as they are basically miniature versions of the larger orange traffic safety cones you see in construction zones. They are soft rubber and easy to cut through. I cut a bigger opening on the small end, and nailed them to an old saw horse. I nailed them with the small end facing down, so I can easily stick the chicken in the cone upside down, hold its neck out taut, and quickly slice the jugular vein with a boning knife (or any good knife used to cut and clean fish will work.) Then, I scald them in the bucket of hot water for a few seconds, and we either hand pick or use our homemade chicken plucker. Doing it by hand is minimalist. So pluck, and then start gutting. Our pigs LOVE chicken killing days because they get the juicy warm guts to eat as a treat! Then wash the chicken off good with water, and start cooking how you like it. If you do cook it the day you kill it, the meat tends to be tougher. FYI.

    Hope that helps. Let us know.
  9. EggsForIHOP

    EggsForIHOP Songster

    Apr 18, 2010
    MY vote goes for the killing cone method as well - if you can find an old bleach bottle or even bum an empty 1 gallon syrup bottle off of your local IHOP - THOSE work GREAT! Because the syrup jugs are actually square they sit pretty well against a flat surface like a 4x4 post - all you have to do is rinse and enlarge SLIGHTLY the hole at the top, cut the bottom off and nail to something sturdy (actually my husband screws them down for me and uses a large washer to keep the plastic from ripping and we had the same bottle stuck to our porch at the old house for a year). Bet if you have an IHOP nearby they'd give you an empty one...love those things!

    I find it's easiest and safest for me to place the bird in, make my cuts and let it bleed out. I don't have to worry about losing a thumb or finger and I have NO AIM with things like a hatchet...it's pathetic...but I never played baseball or softball either - I can't swing anything and hit something else.

    Then after they are bled out, I tie the feet together with bailing twine or zip ties and THEN I scald them before plucking - I have found if I forget to tie them first, then I end up holding a hot, wet, bird looking at the hook we pluck from mad at myself. At this point I often process alone too, so I try to make it easier on myself.

    Also, once you've done it once or twice, you learn which tools you need to get the job done and from there on out it seems to go faster and easier - especially the set up. I used to take an entire day prepping for just a couple birds - now I prep after I feed the night before so all I have to do is go out and feed in the morning and then move on about my business.

    OH! And pruning shears! I LOVE my pruning shears which I don't prune with, but instead use to lop off feets and necks. I have found my husband tends to cry a little over the knives he so lovingly sharpens when I dull them on things like feet and necks - I'm still not good at that and probably never will be - so I use the "chicken cutter" as my 7 year old niece calls it - the good thing is she can use it to since it's not really a dangerous tool and she likes to help!

    I also think when it's all typed out it looks like a lot more work - I remember reading on here for days first time and it seemed like so much more than it is. I can be prepped and ready to do several birds in just minutes now. Good luck with it!
  10. Erica

    Erica Songster

    Dec 5, 2010
    I've never had help to process. Just to eat once they're out of the oven. [​IMG]

    All I take out with me is a sharp knife and a plastic bag. The only other equipment I use are a piece of reinforcing bar (broomstick method, good if you're not strong but want cervical dislocation), a hanging slipknot for tying up the deceased bird, a trigger-hose fixed to a nearby pole by elastic strap, and a plant pot below the hanging carcass to catch leftovers. Blood-water flows onto garden bed, but larger particles get trapped in feathers and tend to stay in the pot. Sunlight sterilises the concrete afterward.

    Ten minutes after dispatch it's in the fridge, skinned because we prefer poached meat to roasted or fried. Time includes a brief pause to bury remains, squirt concrete and give spare tasty morsels to flock protector dog. Dig the hole before beginning to process, that way getting the remains in the ground is super fast.

    Hardest part is killing, for me, but broomstick method is as fast and sure as the axe.


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