We "dispatched" 4 Buff Orpingtons this weekend... here's my story...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by DawnSuiter, Sep 15, 2008.

  1. I didn't REALLY want to do it, but months ago when I decided roosters would be added, I also decided that extras would go into the freezer. So essentially, I committed to the idea before the first chicken set foot on this property.. probably a good thing.

    We removed the food Friday early afternoon for the 24 hour fasting period. They were upset about it by Friday night but got over it, by Saturday morning I was reassuring them that they wouldn't be hungry for much longer.

    We didn't "setup" like some pros.. we grabbed a portable table, and a big blue storage bin, some rope, my pairing knife and a new pair of poultry shears, a couple of trash bags & a bucket, the hose and a chair. Also a tub to put the freshly plucked but not gutted birds into. Setup under our willow tree in a low area with good drainage, put the loose dogs away, and had the kid work on other things. I retreived the first from the coop, hung him both feet in a slipknot a few inches above the tub, and did the deed... and then retrieved the next one.

    The deed was Pithing and then cutting off the heads... seemed the most logical... at the time. I opened the suspended birds beak.. used a pinky finger (with work glove) to sort of keep it open, saw the "slot", positioned the blade toward the beak (following the slot) and one, two three JAMMED the blade in best I could. SQUAK & SHUDDER.. and I'm not sure if it's back far enough so another push, satisfied I twist. Hear cracking, flesh tearing, no movement from the bird so I remove the blade. Blood starts dripping from the beak.. they eyes close. I let the bird hang and step back... hand SHAKING UNCONTROLABLY... and stare at what I've done. My husband removed the blade from my shaking hand & rinsed it off with the hose (which we did after every kill to keep things neat) and I stood there and shook for 10 minutes and then had to sit down. Breathing deeply, I felt horrible but had to keep going. At this point, I did not realize my first kill was still "alive" but quickly realized it was when I made my first attempt at cutting off it's head. It was awful all over again.. my husband held his wings close to his body as I imaging the spinal column and attempted to put my blades between vertebrae. Of course my first one went as well as any horror movie hack job... trying to cut through places that don't budge.. I finally managed to remove the head and then held the remainder of the neck downwards, as if I was milking it without the movement, so that he would bleed into the bin. Once the spasms stopped, we let it go, I moved the head to the disposal bucket and went & retrieved the next bird & repeated the process.
    This time shaking uncontrollably when the blade got to the beak... I was weak about the first thrust, cruel, and had to push further to the skull... twisted deliberately SQUAK & Shudder.. eyes close. I hoped I had done it "right" this time and stood back. DH removed the shaking blood dripping blade again from my shaking hand and I sat down to recover. Eyes are opening... bird is gurgling.. so horrible. I did it wrong again [​IMG] and we remove the head. This time I positioned the shears along a vertebrae & cut more successfully. Same holding procedure and bleeding while holding the neck still. DH shushed them into death... sending them off as comfortingly as possible.
    Two more to go... same procedure over and over. The 3rd time I really thought I had it right, no flap no spasm but alas, he was NOT dead when I cut his head off, as was evidenced by the CSI like splatter patterns on my shoes & pants & arm. Remember to point the throat away from you. The 4th pithing attempt was better, with more assurance on my part. The first plunge of the blade was clear back to the skull... I felt it hit and then a twist... I waited, no flap, seemed dead. But he wasn't either. Another one shushed off to death with the calm reassurance from DH that everything would be ok soon, to just 'let go'. It was really sad in many ways, but I was MORE THAN HAPPY TO BE DONE with the murderous part of my day.

    We washed out the bleeding bucket, which by the way didn't have a lot of blood in it... maybe a cupful for all 4 bird... cleaned off the tools and then washed off the necks with the hose. Called the daughter out to help with plucking. She was LESS than happy about this, but we forced her to help. We left 3 hanging and gave her 1 on the table for plucking.

    Plucking was not as expected. My 1st one, I started with the wingtips, THOSE are hard to get out.... so I gave up and moved onto the back & breast. Good handfull of feathers came outta the back easily, and then I grabbed near the thigh and pulled down toward the breast and ripped the skin clean off the bird. The feeling of warm flesh against my hand was NOT expected and was a little gross, but I kept calm. Tried the other side & ripped the flesh clean off... so I guessed this one would be skinned. DH worked on plucking another hanging bird and I attacked the 3rd. Managed to rip the skin clean off again on accident... too much force I guess. DH managed to pluck pretty clean his carcass and we helped DD finish hers. 2 skinned and 2 plucked.

    We put them in the tub added cool water & took them in the house. I put them in our outdoor freezer so that I could take a break. We'd been working for about an hour and a half at this point, and it was SCORCHING outside. The bees drove us CRAZY during the kill & plucking portion of the day.

    After an hour they were plenty cool and I had gotten enough other chores done to get back to the chickens, we put them in the fridge & worked the two skinned birds first. We did this at the kitchen sink, with a trash bag to catch the "yuck". I found the butchering relatively easy, thanks to a carving lesson I got when I was 18 from a fiesty red cross volunteer lady named John E. in SE Texas, and so cutting off the parts was easy. I managed to spill a bit of feces on two of them, rinsed forever to be sure, and getting the guts out was pretty easy as well... seperated the crop on the front end and pulled it through & out with the innards. Lungs... just scraped my fingers until I hit ribs.. they came out easily & cleanly with the handful of guts.

    I used the necks for broth, and refrigerated the bodies overnight. The next day I put two in brining solution, and froze two.. the two in salt water will be frozen today.

    They LOOK like store bought chicken, good color, not TOO meaty of course, they are 3.5 month old Buff orpingtons raised on starter/grower then finisher with some ranging & sunflower seeds thrown in. I'd like to learn how to better feed the roosters who end up in the freezer, and so shall in the future.

    I couldn't look my remaining 3 boys in the face for a whole day... yesterday was hard too.. but today is better. Yesterday we busily filled the newly emptied "roosters coop" with the next batch of breeders & extras to grow out.

    So.. that's it.. that's my story. Man.. I gotta tell you.. killing a chicken was the hardest thing I've ever had to do.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2008
  2. Darin115

    Darin115 Songster

    Apr 28, 2008
    Asheboro, NC
    I process 2 adult RIR roos yesterday as well. I just deheaded both with a machette.

    I skinned both. It came out relatively well. I gave one to my wife's uncle and I kept the other.

    I am not sure I could do the pith or whatever it is called. I have killed a bunch of deer and other animals but I still don't think I could do it that way.

    I understand your feelings but it gets easier as you kill more. Before long you will not think twice about it.

    Congrats on your first chickens.

  3. Lanissa86

    Lanissa86 Songster

    Mar 26, 2008
    San Antonio, TX
    There was a Thread posted not long ago today about pithing. Pithing is not for killing. It is used in most Biology courses to immobilize your specimen like a frog without killing it but just cutting the Central Nervous system by scrambling the brain. This way all organs are still functioning so it can be studied. I just culled my whole flock on Friday, so I know how horrible it can feel. My first one I culled I know suffered some because of me being so scared and unsure. But seeing it suffer is worse then just doing to deed quick and fast. Why don't you try the killing cone method and slice the jugular vein next? I think I might do it that way If I ever had to cull a bird again. I did it old fashioned way by axing off the head... We are human and we learn by doing and making mistakes. Sounds like you did great! And glad you made DD help out. Just remember when you eat those chickens, you can be thankful your birds had a beautiful life! [​IMG]
  4. Thanks guys [​IMG]
    I think next time, I'll cut the jugular after the pithing... after watching videos of others I really still feel like my birds didn't struggle as much somehow. I don't know. I think I went wrong just cutting off the heads right away... well.. like I said.. not sure... have time to reflect & read more for sure

    I DO know that we're going to have to figure out something SERIOUSLY different for the turkeys... this just won't work for the turkeys.
  5. picklespickles

    picklespickles Songster

    Oct 27, 2007
    oh, dear. you had quite the day.

    i kill it first by breaking the neck. i wait longer than i have to til i know it's dead. then remove head then hang up to bleed. they bleed out well that way, but there is no freaky part when i cut off head. either with still partly alive, reflexes or blood spatter.

    you poor thing.

    well, as sad as it is. each time gets better.

    when i have one that i feel like i botch, i remind myself that if it were being killed by a predator, it actually might have taken longer and been actually more traumatic.

    each time you'll be calmer and do it more quickly. this will make them stay calmer and it's a cycle so then you'll be calmer.
  6. Quote:Did you dip the birds in hot water to loosen the feathers before you started plucking?

  7. Hey Lazy J... no we did not dip them.. didn't you read my story?

    added: we chose NOT to do that because
    1. it's appeared to be an "extra" unnecessary step
    2. we don't really have any pans or pots big enough for a chicken & HOT HOT water
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 16, 2008
  8. Quote:If you don't dip you wil continue to have torn skin.

    We use 5 gallon buckets and heat water in stock pots as you need just enough water to dip the chicken in for about 30 seconds.

  9. Lazy J... don't you concern yourself with the melting plastic?

    Most plastic containers aren't designed to be reused and certainly not for food stuffs... I worry about chemicals leaching into my food
  10. The water is only 145 to 150 degree F.

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