Reducing Carcass Waste


7 Years
Oct 6, 2015
The title may be confusing. What do you do to maximize use of the carcass after butchering?

With our spring batch of birds, our first, we threw out the feet, necks, heads & innards aside from the gizzards, heart & liver.

Does anyone find use for other parts that we’d thrown away? We’re butchering 25 on Sunday.
Peel the feet and add them to the stock. Else doggie treats. Mine went crazy for them and now I boil them down and the layers get the solids. Some people use the head for stock too. Doggie treats for me. The dogs love these.

For stock, I use the necks, feet, hearts, gizzards, liver, occasionally wing tips if you cut them up and bones from the last chicken meal. Add herbs and vegetable cuttings (celery root, potato peels, etc).

After straining, the layers get the liver and bones to pick over. Good source of calcium. I pull the boiled gizzard and hearts out for me. I found it interesting they eat the vertebrae. After the long bones dry, crush them on a brick and they will eat the bone splinters.

I compost the blood (absorbed into wood chips), feathers and offal (digestive track minus gizzard) or bury it near a tree and away from the dogs. Didn't throw anything in the trash can this time. Compost pile heated up and no smell. The cardboard boxes I put the offal into went into the compost at the same time. No clean up. The dogs were slightly upset.
Yuck! I’m definitely not that hungry ..
But people around here will pick up the remains , you could advertise the remains are available.... :/

You are missing some amazingly flavored broth! Same process as the broth you get in the store only less flavorful and more water and artificial stuff.

(I just started on the feet. Felt the same way.)
Another idea. I take the boiled heart or gizzard and chop them up and add to the scrambled eggs at breakfast with onions, pepper and seasoning. The boiling makes the meat so tender. Not as fatty as bacon or sausage.

@Mosey2003 How do you make your broth? I burnt mine on the stove and now put it in a slow cooker on the counter for 12 hours. Strain it and put it in jars. I started freezing it for preservation. Haven't started canning.
Neck, feet and bones go to make stock. Ditto what RUNuts said about using the slow cooker. I actually go 24 hours with mine.

Livers get portioned out, frozen, and used to make liver pate throughout the year. Yum.

Gizzard, lungs, heart and kidneys go to dogs. They say yum as well.
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@Mosey2003 How do you make your broth? I burnt mine on the stove and now put it in a slow cooker on the counter for 12 hours. Strain it and put it in jars. I started freezing it for preservation. Haven't started canning.
Depends on the day. I've done it on the stove, I've done it in a big slow cooker overnight. You can do it in a pressure cooker, too.
Depends on the day. I've done it on the stove, I've done it in a big slow cooker overnight. You can do it in a pressure cooker, too.
I like to pressure cook stock, here is how I do it if interested:
If I am making a deluxe version of stock I first roast chicken bones/carcass and some veggies in an oven. If I am in a hurry I skip the bone roasting and veggies.
Break up the bones (raw or roasted, doesn't matter) and throw them in the pressure cooker along with the wings, necks, feet, backs, extra bits of meat, skin, etc along with water. (I use 1 quart of water per chicken.) I also add any extra vegetables from the fridge along with a few bay leaves, salt, and peppercorns. If I am trying to extract a lot of minerals from the bones (for making bone broth) add a few TB of some sort of vinegar.
Pressure cook anywhere from 1.5-4 hours. (The longer the cook the more that is extracted from bones, but mineral extraction can sometimes taste a bit 'bitter.')
Once cooking is complete just strain the stock and let cool. Skim the schmaltz from the top and save for frying.
Then you can use your pressure cooker to pressure can the stock (if you want) or you can simply freeze it.
If all of that seems to much- just throw your chicken carcass and bits in a pressure cooker and cook it for 2 hours. Then strain it and use it!
Some good info so far. I'll go through how I do it.

When I butcher I keep two buckets handy. One bucket gets stuff that is fed back to the flock: fat, testicles, guts, lungs, bits they will eat. The other bucket gets the head, feathers, and bits I don't want for me or to feed the flock. That gets buried in my garden or orchard to compost in place. My garden is fenced so dogs, coyotes, or such can't get into it to dig it up. In the orchard I put wire mesh over it to keep critters from digging it up. If I time it with starting a new compost pile in the bin I sometimes toss that on the bottom and cover it with enough stuff to keep it sealed so the smell does not come out. Otherwise critters will dig it up.

I cut mine into serving pieces as I butcher. Legs, thighs, and breasts go for the table. I keep the wings, back, neck, gizzard, heart, and feet for broth. The liver goes to the dogs.

I know where the feet have been and what they have walked in. I blanch the feet which makes it easy to twist the claws off and peel them. That gets them clean enough for me. It is real easy to overcook them. I bring water to a boil and drop the feet in for about 15 seconds, then dump them in the sink. If I go much longer than that the skin is really painful to get off, it just shreds. I learned how long to cook by trial and error.

When we eat the table pieces I save the bones after the meal and freeze them. When I get a gallon freezer bag full I put them in my crock pot on low and covered in water overnight, usually 14 to 20 hours. I strain that and freeze the liquid. The old bones go to the landfill.

When it is time to make broth I put a carcass in the crock pot, add a bay leaf, a dozen peppercorns, rough chopped carrot, celery, and onion, some garlic, basil, oregano, and maybe some other herbs like parsley, thyme, or chives. I thaw that liquid I froze earlier and add that if I have some and finish covering with water. If I don't have that liquid I just use water. Again overnight in the crock pot on low for 14 to 20 hours.

I then strain that through a wire mesh colander to get the big chunks out, de-fat the liquid, and strain it through cheese cloth. That's the finished broth. I pick through the residue from those big chinks and get the meat. Be careful there can be some small bones. That cooked meat is great for tacos, chicken salad, soups, or just a sandwich.

I toss the bones, I'm done with them. But the soft stuff left is saved. I use that to bait my live traps for raccoons, skunks, and possum. Or it can bait snap traps for rats or mice.

The only thing that goes to the landfill is the bones and that is after they have been well used.

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