Thinking about ordering some meat birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by gg706, Dec 15, 2012.

  1. gg706

    gg706 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,309
    45
    158
    Jul 5, 2011
    I have been tossing around the idea of raising up some meat birds. We eat mostly chicken in our family. Pretty much every weekend we smoke a couple on the smoker. Do you have a hard time processing your birds after you have watched them grow for several weeks? I know logic tells me if I am eating chicken every weekend the butchering is happening wether I do it or a factory does it. I am concerned I will have the butchering process in my mind while I am eating the chicken! I also would be doing all of the butchering alone How did your first time go and how did you prepare yourself? What process or killing method did you use and why
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    457
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    There's probably something wrong with people who don't have these thoughts. [​IMG] The actual killing may be hardest, and I got used to the processing part pretty easily. I think chopping off the head is probably the easiest to do at first, and many continue to do so; it's all we ever used. A sharp ax and a couple of nails driven halfway into your tree stump or board to secure the head make it go comparatively easily. A common alternative is to make a killing cone and slit the throat. They bleed out pretty well either way if you hang them by their foot (we use a strong clip) right after chopping off the head.

    Do look over the stickies (blue box, top of meat birds forum) on processing and killing. Besides lots of good information, it should help accustom you to the whole thing; there are some good pictures in there.
     
    2 people like this.
  3. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

    5,532
    184
    273
    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    Once they are dressed, they look exactly like the chickens in the market. The very first time that you butcher, I suggest that you rest the birds for a couple of days, then put them into the freezer and wait a couple of weeks before you take the first one out and eat it.

    It seems to take 2-3 days for the smell of wet feathers to leave the back of my sinuses. I don't want to be eating any chicken during that period. If you use safe meat handling practices, your home raised meat will be much cleaner than anything you could buy in the store. It will have better texture and won't be pumped full of saline solution to make it weigh more.

    Do you already have chickens? Do you eat their eggs? The jump from store bought eggs to home raised eggs seems to be the most difficult transition to make. Many people will never be able to do it and refuse to eat home raised eggs. If you can eat home raised eggs, then you have already made far more than half the transition to eating home raised meat.

    There seems to be this silly idea that supermarket eggs are much cleaner, germ free, and safer. If you eat your home raised eggs, you are aware of how silly that belief is. Well, your home raised and home butchered meat is also much cleaner and safer than supermarket meat
     
  4. meganblythe

    meganblythe Out Of The Brooder

    43
    15
    34
    Nov 21, 2012
    Alabama
    My husband and I just raised our first batch of meat birds. Harvesting them wasn't easy by any means, but we'll do it again. I'm not embarrassed to admit that I cried the first few times we (well, he) slit their necks. We used killing cones and held their heads as they bled out, to keep them from flopping out of the cones. It's an emotionally taxing experience because you are taking something's life, but we know the birds lived good lives and were well cared for. We made the final minutes as quick and unstressful as possible. It also made me think about, and appreciate, the people that work in processing plants and do that every day.

    I didn't have a hard time cleaning the birds (though it smells a bit, it would be nice to do it outside but we weren't set up for that so I just opened the kitchen window). We let them rest in the fridge overnight, then froze most of them the next day. We did eat a couple of leg quarters the next night (two days after processing) and I didn't have a hard time with it at all.
     
  5. Island Roo

    Island Roo Chillin' With My Peeps

    463
    30
    128
    Feb 14, 2012
    Duncan, BC
    I grew up (sort of [​IMG]) in the city so the transition to killing and eating the animals on my property is still quite new. The thought still comes to mind occasionally when I am outside with the birds and sometimes when preparing food but not when I'm eating it. Maybe that's the city-hypocrite blinders still coming up about where food comes from.

    When I start to think about it, I think of how much better the chickens life is on my property compared to store bought. That seems to quiet the irrational critic in my head.
     
  6. NYboy

    NYboy Chillin' With My Peeps

    655
    2
    131
    Nov 12, 2009
    White plains
    You can also pay someone to butcher them for you. At least the first time.
     
  7. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,480
    121
    201
    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    After raising some laying hens, and realizing what nifty animal chickens were, I decided that I either had to stop eating chicken or start raising my own meat birds, because what I heard about the living conditions and slaughtering conditions of most of the meat we purchase in grocery stores is pretty horrifying. So, last summer I purchased 35 day old Freedom Rangers. My theory was that if I purchased enough chicks, I wouldn't be able to tell them appart and/or name them and would be able to hold myself a bit more distant from them since the goal was to butcher them myself. I did have to keep myself from standing and watching them play when they were little, and there is enough variation in Freedom Rangers that I was still able to tell some of them appart and get to know some personality differences between them, which made it a bit more difficult. However, I think it is healthy to have a respectful relatioship with what ends up on your family's table.

    While the actual killing was the worst part for me, the butchering wasn't really bad at all.

    I actually find that I enjoy eating the chickens I've raised and processed more than I enjoy store purchased chicken. I think it is because I don't want anything to be wasted or unappreciated. This is in part because I want every chicken I serve my family to be absolutly delicious, because I want to convince my husband that this was a worth while enterprise, and something he's willing to let me do again. (we had a dramatic summer which included having to evacuate our property for 9 days due to the Waldo Canyon fire with 43 chickens, 2 dogs, a cat and three children and he has said "never again" to meat chickens) So I hunt out great chicken recipies, I pay attention to every part of the process, so the chicken is perfectly done. I then make things like pot pies or chicken soups with what is left from the Sunday dinner roast chicken and have stock frozen in 2 cup baggies for all our other cooking. So when I'm eating them, I have not only the pride and enjoyment of a tasty meal, I have the pride of knowing I DID THIS! I raised these chickens, I kept them safe from the fire, I treated them with gentleness and respect and I had the courage to do something emotionally difficult in order to feed my family a healthier, more ethical product.
     
    5 people like this.
  8. Island Roo

    Island Roo Chillin' With My Peeps

    463
    30
    128
    Feb 14, 2012
    Duncan, BC
    Well said hummingbird.
    It can be a challenge to overcome the initial fear. There is still an emotioal response whenever i do the deed but i am more comfortable facing the truth about my food than closing my eyes to whats hidden behind the plastic wrapped product at a grocery store.
     
  9. gg706

    gg706 Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,309
    45
    158
    Jul 5, 2011
    Thank You all for the words of encouragement. I did watch a video on youtube about how meat birds are treated. It is horrible! I think I do need to try raising my own meat birds at least once. I have been thinking about it for over a year.....so the thought is not going anywhere. Yes I do eat my own eggs. I cant IMAGINE going back to store bought eggs. They are almost tasteless! Thanks!
     
  10. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,480
    121
    201
    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    gg706,

    In your first post you mentioned that you will be doing the slaughtering and butchering yourself. I did my first bird by myself, because I didn't want to have witnesses if I messed up or broke down in tears or whatever, but I did have help the next day when I planned on doing 6 more. We killed, scalded and plucked three birds and then I led the other two through the butchering process (having been the only one who had any experience, and that experience being limited to studying the information on the web and doing one bird the day before). My two helpers were my mom, (who lives next door and was officially owner of 10 of the 35 Freedom Rangers, and a very nice young woman who I met on this discussion forum. She volunteered her time so that she could learn how to butcher a chicken, being in the exact position you are right now, wanting to explore the idea but not sure whether you can do it. Perhaps you can find another person in your area who want to learn with you so that you can have another pair of hands.

    Most of the chickens my mom and I did together. I would do the actual killing and, when it had bled out, hand the headless body to her. She would do the scalding and begin plucking while I got the next...subject. I'd kill and bleed the second one and then start on the third. By the time I had finished with the third, the first was plucked, or at least mostly plucked and I'd move into the kitchen to do the rest of the butchering because my mom wasn't comfortable doing the removal of the inards. When she was finished plucking #2 she'd bring it inside and start on #3. Usually I'd be still working on #2 when she came in with #3 and she'd do some of the final clean up on #1 before it went into the cooler. At that time, she'd rest while I finished and then we'd start on the second three. Several times we did a third set as well, but sometimes we stopped at six. It was about all I could fit in my refridgerator to "rest" anyway. It was nice to have the help and the companionship.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by