Rigor mortis/ Stiff legs after processing question

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by bluere11e, Mar 15, 2012.

  1. bluere11e

    bluere11e Songster

    Feb 8, 2011
    West Palm Beach
    I helped SunnySideUp process a bunch of 5-8 month old roos last spring. We duct taped their feet together before dropping them into the cone. We used a 5-gallon bucket filled with hot water to scald, and used the extended legs as a handle for dipping them in the hot water. After processing, their legs remained straight. Even after 3 days resting in the fridge were the legs still stiff and straight. Last week, I had to dispatch one of my smaller meaties because she ended up with a cocked leg and couldn't walk at 6 weeks. She wasn't near the same size as Carols roos( about 2 pounds dressed), so I just dropped her in the cone, proceeded to cut her neck and let her kick away. I didn't scald her, just skinned her.
    After I dressed her, I noticed, her legs were drawn up like the store bought chickens.
    I'm wondering if they die in a certain position, do their legs remain in whatever position they were in as rigor sets in?
    I plan on processing a bunch this weekend and next and I guess it will be an interesting experiment in observation.
    What does everyone else think?

  2. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Songster

    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    I don't know if it makes any difference, but I see no need to tape their legs. If the cone is made properly, there is no need for the tape.
  3. hydroswiftrob

    hydroswiftrob Chirping

    Aug 18, 2011
    N. Texas
    My Coop
    I agree.
  4. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
  5. VkyVky

    VkyVky In the Brooder

    Apr 13, 2011
    Ventura County, CA
    I read your link and it sounds like a processed bird shouldn't be thrown in the refrigerator right away. Is that right? I have never processed a chicken before but I am reading about it because I am interested in maybe doing it one day. I am the type of person that wants to refrigerate everything right away for food safety.

  6. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    Keep in mind, that is a Polish site - and most other countries aren't as refrigerator happy as we Americans are :)

    I've done some more internet digging on "cold shortening". There is some interesting stuff. Mainly, it's talking about keeping at 60 until rigor occurs - not the whole time. I've found a lot of university links about it, and a few journals specifically regarding chicken:


    Now, remember on the rigor link, it only takes 1/2 hour to an hour for rigor in the chicken - that really isn't a long time to rest at 60 degrees and then to go in the fridge to continue cooling down after rigor has started.

    Clean processing is the best and biggest step - clean hands, clean surfaces, clean equipment.

    I'm sure MANY here may not agree with the above links, and prefer to immediately chill their chicken. That is fine. I think next time I process, I'm going to experiment - one right into the fridge as soon as it's cleaned up, and one resting in a cool area that's around 60 for an hour before the fridge.

    Of course, this is coming from someone who, due to time, let a deer hang in the garage for two weeks (weather was 30s), and then the cuts of meat in the fridge for a week. I tested it on myself, and it was by far and away the most tender, tasty, and mild venison I've ever had. All my deer will now hang as long as the weather permits, and will go to the fridge for at least a week.
  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Hi Laurelle, I'm trying to remember the birds I kept from that processing session, I don't remember having any with stiff extended legs. During the sessions back when I was first learning to process I did have some that would stay like that. I think it was because I took longer to finish them and they would begin to stiffen before they went into the ice water.

    These days I can finish faster, and I now like to tuck the ends of the drumsticks through a slit cut in the skin at the end of the cavity before chilling. Once in a while the legs move a bit stiffly, but I can push them into position. That day we processed together I kept getting interrupted with calls & visitors and couldn't stay with you all at the table to be of more help.

    That day we used strips of duct tape to fasten the legs together, sometimes I'll use zip ties. The reason for that is to keep the chicken from maneuvering himself out of the cone and also to have a handy way to hang the scalded bird in order to have both hands free for hand-plucking. Perhaps the Cornish Xs are more compliant, but the dual purpose roos can scrabble around in the cone and climb out if their legs are left free.
  8. goldnchocolate

    goldnchocolate Songster

    May 9, 2008
    I followed your link, showing how you process your chickens, and I have to say that your pics and explanations are the best I've seen, so far!
    How to process chickens at home!
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012

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