Tomorrow's the Big Day

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by JacobsRewardFarm, Oct 5, 2007.

  1. JacobsRewardFarm

    JacobsRewardFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 29, 2007
    Parker, TX
    I think I'm all set. I've studied websites and videos and I've visualized and I've checked my list of supplies. My husband says he'll help me (he can be a bit squeamish) and my daughter is at a friend's until mid-morning. I might even get to take some photos if anyone's interested. I'll be processing about 26 Delawares which are 14+ weeks old. It's a straight run group, and the roos actually look pretty big. It'll be interesting how they weigh out. I've been nervous about this all week, but after tomorrow, I'll have it behind me.

    'Course, in 2 weeks I have another group of 25 Red Broilers to do. Then another batch a week after that. Then I'm done. If it goes well, I'll do it again next year. If not, well, it was an adventure, and I'll stick to collecting eggs.

    Here's the first batch up:
    [​IMG]

    More info as it becomes available ;-)
    Cindy T.
    Parker, TX
     
  2. beebiz

    beebiz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 2, 2007
    W. Tennessee
    Well Cindy, it sounds like you are quite well prepared. I hope everything goes well for you. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!!

    Good luck,
    Robert
     
  3. lacyloo

    lacyloo Cooped Up

    May 26, 2007
    north florida
    hope everything goes well [​IMG]
     
  4. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Forks, Virginia
    I would be interested in seeing your set up for the processing. I find that everybody has a little different way to do things and great ideas are born from one another's experiences when shared.
     
  5. texaschickmama

    texaschickmama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 19, 2007
    Poolville, TX
    Hope everything goes good for you. Let us know. You are in Parker, Tx and that is my maiden name and we live in TX, too. My oldest son is Parker. [​IMG]
     
  6. JacobsRewardFarm

    JacobsRewardFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 29, 2007
    Parker, TX
    Hey friends, we did it. I'm still recovering, LOL.

    We didn't get as early a start as I would have liked, but even with that, and a couple of interruptions, we were done and cleaned up by 3:30PM. I used a cleaver to separate the chickens from their heads for a while, but it didn't always do the job with one whack, so my husband stepped in with a hatchet. In the first picture you see my chopping block with two 16 nails hammered into it, like I saw in a video I got from MM hatchery. Next to that is a short bucket with a white bag. I moved the chicken immediately into that bucket to contain it until it quit thrashing (I pinned the chicken against the bucket while holding its feet, to keep the wings from brusing the meat as it tried to flap.) When it finally quit, I hung it up on S-hooks on the fence with twine slip-knotted around its feet, and let the blood drain into the large trash can with a black bag liner. We could line 5-8 up at one time.

    [​IMG]

    When they seemed to be bled out, we moved them to the table where my husband and I skinned and gutted them. Off to the side, I have an empty water trough and water hose where we occasionally hosed off the carcass as we worked. Not as convenient as a sink, but we managed. Even though I had bought another pair of poultry shears, we ended up fighting over a boning knife that worked very well, so I guess I'll get another one of those so we can work together with less waiting for the "tool of choice."

    I had worried it was going to rain, but the sky stayed overcast, drizzled just a little bit, and we got a nice cool breeze occasionally. It was perfect weather - not too hot or cold.

    [​IMG]

    We took off necks, wings and feet, and did our best to gut them. Then we tossed them into a bag in a cooler of cold water and ice. It definitely got easier as we went on.

    I had to pen up my donkeys and sheep because they would have been really big pests. (Yes, that's one of my BRs on the donkey's back, as is their habit.) We were working in the pasture up close to the barn. The layers wouldn't stay in the pen and insisted on inspecting our work and our tractor of "victims." Very ghoulish, if you ask me. Who knows if they really knew what was going on? Maybe they were offering sympathy? Last rites?

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The effect of chopping off all those heads was cumulative -- by the time we were down to the last handful, I was not exactly queasy, but totally ready to be through. Didn't think I could do another one. By the time we finished, I realized that I had clenched my jaw the whole time and I was sore!

    My husband and I kept each other laughing with silly, morbid humor, and we got through it. His hunting experience was very helpful, and he was good company.

    I used my Food Saver vacuum sealer for the first time -- it's great!! After 24 hours in the fridge, I moved them to the freezer. Here's the reward for all that hard work:
    [​IMG]

    Remember these were 14-week-old Delawares, straight run, and they averaged only 1.5 pounds dressed out. (The biggest was 1.9 lb) I was disappointed with that, and am curious how big my next batch (Red Broilers) will be. Does anybody know the ratio of live weight to carcass weight when they're dressed like this - skinned with no wings? Just wondering. I wish I had weighed the Delis before butchering. I think I will make a point to weight the Broilers before butchering.

    So that's my story. I hope it was helpful. I'm only 1/3 of the way through my meat flock. I can see why people don't do this year round. Maybe next time won't be so traumatic. I toughed it out, but it's really weird taking a chicken apart.

    Now, where's my cookbook?

    Thanks for everyone's support,
    Cindy T.
    Parker, TX
     
  7. eggchel

    eggchel Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Dec 26, 2006
    Both Coasts
    Wow, great photos and description. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Chel
     
  8. sylvar

    sylvar New Egg

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    Aug 12, 2007
    Great Job! It gets easier with practice. My wife and I took the better part of a day to do 12 the first time. Last weekend we did 40 before 11 am. By the time you get done this year you will have your system down and be looking for ways to improve it.

    Good Luck!

    Shane in Stoutsville
     
  9. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    You did a great job!

    It will get easier over time. Practice will make you faster and more efficient. The jaw clenching might even begin to ease up with time. Just remember that the birds serve a purpose and that purpose is to feed your family. Treat them well, show them respect while they are in your care. They have a far better life with you than they ever would have at some commercial chicken processor.

    We did three mean 19 week old roosters yesterday. One is waiting to slow roast for supper tonight. Mine weighed in at just over 4lbs each full dressed. I left the skin on mine.

    I am raising jumbo cornish x's from McMurray now. We expect to begin processing between 8 and 10 weeks. This is week #1.

    You can find my post under Processing the Packing Peanuts - https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=18818

    Again
    , I think you did excellent work.
     
  10. JacobsRewardFarm

    JacobsRewardFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 29, 2007
    Parker, TX
    Thanks, friends. MissPrissy - I loved your story about the mean roosters! I appreciate the encouragement. I reminded my husband that it's the people who are willing to do what others won't, who get ahead. Everyone I've told about this are very awed that we would do it ourselves, and know how valuable it is to know about your food (where it comes from and how it lived and died), but at the same time, they're happy to live in denial about the history of their chicken salad.

    I know our home processing system will continue to become streamlined. This year I am spending a lot of money on start up equipment for our farm, so I waited on the scalding and plucking equipment. Perhaps we'll go that way next year. I just don't want to pluck 25 chickens by hand in one day. Though I do prefer the "look" of a nicely plucked whole chicken neatly sucked into a freezer bag! LOL.

    It's good to know and "hang out" with folks who grow their own food animals. So many people just don't get it, and are actually hostile (activist vegetarians). Thank you all for your example and inspiration.

    God bless you all today!
    Cindy T.
    Parker, TX
     

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