Slaughtering Molting Hens

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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So, not 'meat birds' per se.....but slaughtered old hens today, a bit late this year.
Ooops...big mistake as there were manymanymany fat 1/2" to 1" long pin feathers.
Ended up skinning a couple of them while doing final cleaning and cut up,
I just could not bear to pull all those pins.
Should still make some flavorful bone stock/stew.<shrugs>
Just looking for some cathartic commiseration.
TIA.
 

R2elk

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So, not 'meat birds' per se.....but slaughtered old hens today, a bit late this year.
Ooops...big mistake as there were manymanymany fat 1/2" to 1" long pin feathers.
Ended up skinning a couple of them while doing final cleaning and cut up,
I just could not bear to pull all those pins.
Should still make some flavorful bone stock/stew.<shrugs>
Just looking for some cathartic commiseration.
TIA.
:lau:gig:lau
:oops:
 

Maeschak

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Mar 29, 2016
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So, not 'meat birds' per se.....but slaughtered old hens today, a bit late this year.
Ooops...big mistake as there were manymanymany fat 1/2" to 1" long pin feathers.
Ended up skinning a couple of them while doing final cleaning and cut up,
I just could not bear to pull all those pins.
Should still make some flavorful bone stock/stew.<shrugs>
Just looking for some cathartic commiseration.
TIA.
I have the same task set for me for the next few days... Due to my chickens molting, I had expected to skin the old hens instead of pluck. Did you find that skinning was more than usually difficult as well or did skinning work just fine? I have 10-12 old hens to cull and may rethink my skinning strategy if its not feasible.
 

aart

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I have the same task set for me for the next few days... Due to my chickens molting, I had expected to skin the old hens instead of pluck. Did you find that skinning was more than usually difficult as well or did skinning work just fine? I have 10-12 old hens to cull and may rethink my skinning strategy if its not feasible.
I have only tired to skin one bird rather than pluck, a 10 month old cockerel, it was a bear and and I ended up just going far enough to get breast, thighs, and upper wings. With these hens I scalded, plucked all but the pins, and skinned as I cut them up, I part them out before resting and freezing to save space in freezer and speed thawing....worked pretty good, legs and breasts were easy with a few snips, couple tougher spots on backs, and I just tossed most the wings. Another learning curve, making the best of a stupid situation created by my own sloth. Will be curious to see how they stew up, how much flavor might be lost due to the missing skin.

Ugh, I have hens to slaughter. I wonder if the electric plucker will take care of the pin feathers.
I have my doubts, but have never used a plucker...do let us know here.
 

Ridgerunner

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That's not why I skin mine instead of plucking but it is a side benefit, no pin feathers to deal with. I did not have a good way to heat the water: fire risk, really inconvenient, and the wife is just as happy to not have the skin anyway.

I find that pullets even 8 to 10 months old skin pretty easily. Around 19 to 20 weeks cockerels start to get a little harder to skin, until then they are fairly easy. The older they get the harder they are. The problem is that membrane starts to grow that attaches the skin to the body. I don't know if those are tendons, ligaments, or something else. Old hens aren't that much of a problem though you might find the need to cut a few of those membrane. Old roosters are really rough, you need a sharp knife and will be cutting a lot of membrane. They also take a lot of muscle strength from you.

The first thing I do after taking the head off is to cut the feet off, that makes the drumstick a lot easier to skin. Then I put them on their back and make a slit across the abdomen. Then I start pulling and tearing, working the skin off a wing first, then the leg on that side. The wing is rough, I just keep the first two sections and toss the tip. The first problem is a membrane that holds the first two sections sort of bent, I have to cut that to even get started. Then the area that holds the flight feathers won't come off unless I use a knife to cut under it at least until I can get a good grip. I can see why people skip the wings.

My next step is pulling it off of the leg. It takes some muscle but isn't isn't horrible. If it does get hard I cut the skin where it starts to fold back in itself like turning a sock inside out. Somehow that relieves a lot of the pressure. Next step is pulling the skin off the neck, then turn it over and repeat on the wing and leg. Then pull what is left all the way to the back and cut the vent off to remove the guts. After that it depends on how you want the carcass, whole or cut into pieces.

I've never butchered a Cornish X but at that age I'd expect them to skin really easily. Pullets are pretty easy, old hens and cockerels under 6 months old are not horrible, but I do not suggest anyone try an old rooster unless they are mentally prepared for real work.

There are two kinds of pin feathers. One is actual feathers that just haven't fully grown yet. A way to remove those is to pass them through a fire. Wad up a piece of newspaper and set that on fire. The other type is sacks of liquid under the skin. These are the ones I hate and I would not expect a plucker to remove them. The only way I know to get them out is to squeeze each individual one and rinse the bird.

If you have a light feathered bird, white or buff, they are not as bad as a dark-feathered bird. The pin feathers are still there but you can't see them as well. They won't do you any harm to leave them but the carcass is not pretty with a dark-feathered bird. I can't stand to leave the dark liquid pockets and generally remove all the small feathers too.
 

aart

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...pulling it off of the leg. It takes some muscle but isn't isn't horrible.
I was pleasantly surprised how easy the whole leg skin peeled off, only a couple attachments at front and back of thigh(which can be frustrating when you want to grill with skin on). Course in my case, scalding had been done, leg was already detached from body and feet were long gone.

The other type is sacks of liquid under the skin.
Even when a fully grown feather is fully plucked out after scalding, that follicle 'slime' remains..I've found a butter knife scrapes most of them out pretty easy.

@Ridgerunner .....when you skin a feathered bird, is it just laying on a table or feet or neck tied up or.....???


These work great for plucking, but wound't hold up(haha!) to skinning I don't think.
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