Think It's Time to Process

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by angelbabyamy, May 20, 2012.

  1. angelbabyamy

    angelbabyamy Songster

    Feb 18, 2011
    Myrtle Point, OR
    I have four 12 week old Cornish X hens. I've never processed chickens before, so this is a big deal for me. All 50 of my chickens are spoiled pets.I am trying to convince my husband to kill them for me and I will do the rest, but I don't think he will.

    I have let them free range and live with my other chickens. I feed them Flock Raiser separate from the others. One of them still roosts at night. They others are sleeping on the floor. They do not seem to be having problems getting around, but they are spending more time in the chicken house. One is waddling pretty bad (the largest) so I brought it in the house and my husband weighed himself and then weighed again holding the chicken. It weighs 10.5 pounds!

    I guess I need to process this week before the poor things have complications or die. I have never had home raised chicken and am excited to see if there really is a difference! Will my birds have different texture because they free range?

    Kind of scared to do it!
  2. wsmoak

    wsmoak Songster

    You can do it! Find some videos on YouTube and watch them a few times. If it helps, write down the steps and post them outside where you're working.

    To keep it simple, consider skinning them. That way you don't have to deal with scalding and plucking.

  3. debs_flock

    debs_flock Crowing

    Sep 14, 2011
    Shingle Springs, CA
    The exercise and free ranging will give the meat more of a chicken flavor, as the muscle is better developed. Kind of like the difference between your eggs and store eggs, same flavor, just better and richer. They are still young enough there won't be that much difference in texture.

    I wouldn't skin them. Plucking is just not that hard and goes pretty quickly if you scald the bird (MUCH slower and harder to dry pluck). I wouldn't forgo the skin for two major reasons, you want it there for cooking to help prevent the meat from drying out and it adds a lot of flavor. Secondly and more important for me............I LOVE the crispy skin! Frankly, I think it is better than the meat [​IMG]

    Anyway, read through the archived threads on this forum and watch a few YouTube videos. You can do it. Just keep telling yourself, it's no different than eating the meat from the store and your birds had a better/easier life than those raised commercially.

    And at 10.5 pounds, yes, those birds need to be done now!

    Don't forget to let your dressed bird age in the fridge for at least a day or two before you freeze or eat them. You want to let the muscle relax so it will be tender (think rigor mortis [​IMG])

    Good luck, we had home raised/processed chicken for dinner last night, yum!

  4. angelbabyamy

    angelbabyamy Songster

    Feb 18, 2011
    Myrtle Point, OR
    Thanks for the tips! My parents have a year old rooster they want to get rid of so I am going to practice on him first. I also have a 12 week old Marans rooster I don't want and was going to give him away, but I think I will do him second for some practice before I start on my meaties.

    Went and bought a utility sink today. Trying to plan my set-up. If this works for me, I am going to buy 10 more to start over. We recently moved and it rarely gets above 80 degrees here in the summer, so I don't think it will too hard on them.

    I'm going to buy a new knife also. Any suggestions?
  5. debs_flock

    debs_flock Crowing

    Sep 14, 2011
    Shingle Springs, CA
    Do you have planned how to scald?

    I bought a propane burner (like for a turkey fryer) and will use an old canning kettle. The single bird I did a couple of days ago was a last minute thing (the dogs killed it). I just put a stock pot on to heat on my stove. I checked the heat with an instant read thermometer. I brought the chicken in the kitchen in a bucket, dipped it, when it was done I put the wet chicken back into the bucket and took it back outside to pluck. I then rinsed the bucket out, hosed the plucked chicken off, placed it back in the bucket and brought it back in the house to gut.

    If I was set up to do several birds, I'd have everything ready in advance. I just didn't want this bird to go to waste. (And it was a marans. It was only 13 weeks old, not much breast meat, but we prefer the dark meat anyway. Tomorrow night I'll make soup with the rest of the carcass).

  6. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Songster

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    Great idea on the utility sink!

    The recommendation I received on a knife was to 1. make sure it's super, extra sharp and 2. that it fit well in your hand (comfortable grip).

    So I purchased a brand new 4" filet knife to use exclusively for the kill cut. I'll use our super sharp steak knives and sharpen the kitchen shears to do the rest. I've heard of folks using scapels and I thought of using that - but those handles are not comfortable for me to hold very long (arthritis in my thumb joints). So I found a knife with a broader handle that will be comfortable for me.
  7. bwmichaud

    bwmichaud Chirping

    Jul 19, 2010
    12 weeks is a long time to keep those Cornish X around. Good luck with processing them. It's tough when you only have a few and you you know each one on a more personal basis. When you have 100, you can't tell one from the next and it is definitely easier to do the deed. I love the crispy chicken skin too much to skin them and if you get your scald temp right, they will pluck very easily. Good Luck!
  8. what did I do

    what did I do Songster

    Apr 10, 2012
    If you are doing it yourself, don't plan on doing all the birds in one day. If you plan on leaving them whole make sure you have bags that they fit into.
    Last edited: May 22, 2012
  9. rungirl

    rungirl Songster

    Apr 7, 2010
    Columbus, Ohio
    My husband and I processed meat birds the first time with a hatchet (bloody mess and took both of us), the next time with a knife (it gets dull after a few chickens), the next time we hung them upside down from the kid's trampoline and used a new pair of tree lopers(this worked well and there were no mistakes) However, the kids called it the merry-go-round of death after that!... But last week I had to kill a rooster and I used an broom handle and that was amazingly easy for me. I alway had my husband do the killing and then I'd take it from there, but I definitely can do the broomstick method myself. I just held the rooster upside down by his legs and when he calmed down I put the broomstick over the back of his neck and stepped on each end, then pulled up on his legs. I did it on the driveway. His head came off right off and I didn't think I was even pulling very hard. The neck broke right away. This is definitely my preferred method now. You don't have to struggle with them, it's quick, and there is no worry that the cut is deep enough or the knife is sharp. You might want to consider this. I heard the little Amish girls do it this way and I can see why.

    All that being said... I agree that the plucking of cornish cross is very easy and definitely worth it because you want the skin on for flavor and juice. When you do the other birds, it may not be as easy to pluck, so don't get discouraged by that. The cornish X are not as fluffy and less densely feathered so the feathers come off very easily, compared to when you do the Marans.

    It's very important to let the carcass rest in the refrigerator a couple of days. The first time we butchered we had one for dinner that night and it was stringy and tough because it was too fresh. The rest of them were great, but that first fresh one was a disappointment. Last year I invested in a vacuum sealer to bag the whole chickens. I couldn't find ziplock bags that were big enough unless I used 2 gallon bags and it's hard to get the air out before you freeze them.

    There are some very good instructions on this website that I learned from...

    You're going to love the qualitiy of meat you get from raising your own chickens! Good luck.

  10. coyotesmommy

    coyotesmommy Songster

    Jun 13, 2011
    Ok.... so I got a bunch of eggs and hatched them out and I think I got one hen and 6 roosters. Now these are just run of the mill chickens... mix group Marrans, Rocks, So I want to cull the roosters and use them for meat birds. They hatched April 14th how big and how old should I keep them until we cull?

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