Well. I did it. :( Graphic description and guts photo.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by itsy, Jun 13, 2011.

  1. itsy

    itsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    I just processed my first chicken. I feel like Lady Macbeth, but instead of blood, it's the SMELL I can't get off my hands.

    The chicken in question was the gross-butt 3 year old RIR from this thread . I'll include a photo and description of the organs. You tell me if she's ok to eat!

    First of all, let me begin by telling you that I hate handling raw chicken. It's a bit of a joke between the BF and myself. I can touch and cook most anything, but when it comes to cooking chicken - it gives me the heebiejeebies. So why on Earth would I want to process a perfectly good chicken? Right now, I'm asking myself the same question. I will tell you this, though:

    First time chicken-killings should be done on young chickens.

    I could use adult language to tell you how it went. Yeah, it was THAT good. [​IMG]

    Firstly, my upside down orange construction cone did not have a hole cut large enough and when I put that poor bird in there, she kind of got stuck. She got very still and I thought I killed her right then! Shaking, I pulled her out, apologized and put her back in her holding box. I proceeded to cut and rip the cone until it was larger. I put the bird back in and tried my best to slice her where I should have. I honestly couldn't tell if I went through her windpipe or not. There wasn't any gurgling, but the blood didn't flow as fast as I would have hoped. I tried making another slice, but there was lots of moving around at that point and it was only me doing this. At that point, I almost threw up. I held her head while she bled out until I was certain she was dead. Other than fish, I had never before killed an animal. I will admit, it was a little bit traumatic for me!

    I had water boiling in the kitchen and brought it outside. It was over 150 degrees so I cooled it down by adding some hose water. I had some dishwashing detergent in there and a little bit of salt from when I was boiling the water. I figured the salt would help it get to a higher temperature. I hope I didn't do anything wrong.

    When it hit 150, I put the bird in - HEAD AND ALL! That kind of disturbed me. In fact, the whole thing disturbed me! Her butt was gross. It had poo stuck to it and looked a little swollen. I may have burnt my palm a little bit with the water, but I didn't care at that point. I just wanted to get it done. I swished and checked the big feathers and I did it some more. When I felt they were coming out easy enough, I pulled the bird out and plucked it. It really wasn't that hard getting the feathers off. Next time, I think I'll move quicker. I may have had the water too hot because it kind of felt like the first part of the skin was coming off in areas - unless that is normal. There's still what looks like normal skin on the bird.

    Then came the worst most craptastic processing you've ever seen. I read through frugal's post so many times, I thought I had it down. Nope. No I didn't. The whole thing went right out the window. Let me also tell you that the inside of a 3 year old chicken looks a HECK OF A LOT different than these pretty insides of the young birds I've seen so many photos and videos of. There were things in there that I hadn't seen in photos, including what looked like several egg yolks. I didn't know what I was doing. I chopped off the head first - not in the right spot as I basically had to saw through the neck. I then tried to take off the legs. When I have seen this done in videos, it's so easy and quick. Nope - not me. I first puncture myself with the very large spur on this girl and then I begin to cut through bone. Yes, I know that's wrong. I tried finding the middle of the joint, and I believe I cut some tendons because I could feel what seemed like rubber bands snap, but it wasn't easy getting them suckers off.

    I then tried cutting the guts out by being careful and to not puncture anything. Her butt was still covered in poo. I hope I didn't taint the meat, because after the production of getting the guts out, I tried cutting more away before slicing off the tail and cut through something that let out a dark greenish liquid that seemed to have very small greenish solids. Was it poo? Who knows! I quickly lifted the bird to not get any on it (there was a tiny bit) and I hosed it off as well as my cutting board.

    I was surprised as to how the insides looked. I've never seen the inside of a chicken in person. I thought I was going to save things inside, but I really couldn't bear it. The liver, or what I think is the liver seemed to have pale white spots on it. Is that age or an illness?

    Ok, so the really red spongy looking stuff on the bottom is what part? Then we go up a little bit to the left to see something covered in fat. Is that the heart? This bird really has a TON of fat; much more than I'm used to seeing in these young Cornish X photos. Now as we move up some more we see something large and flatish and maroonish looking. That's the liver, right? If you look closely, you can see the pale white dots on it. I could try and blow the pic up if you like. It's from my iPhone and I was trying to be quick. You can see the white on the lower right portion of that object.


    OK, so I finally get all the guts out. I was really shaking at this point. I kept trying to tell myself that I just bought the bird out of the store and was trying to clean it. lol. I then put it in the first ice cooler with a bunch of sea salt. It sat there for at least 40 minutes. I walked the guts and blood back to our woods and then came back and cleaned everything up. I swear, even though I've used soap twice - everything still has an odor. Even the stainless steel knife smells. I stink, by the way.

    After I was done cleaning, I moved the bird to the second ice chest. It's sitting there right now, waiting for me to put it in a bag and stick it in the fridge to rest.

    So - Do you think she's safe to eat?

    ps. If you've read through all of this - you're amazing. [​IMG]

    pps. I do still plan on raising my meat birds. I think that butchering the young birds will be easier. I'm also not planning on killing the Barred Rock that came with her. After seeing the yolks inside of the RIR - I think the old BR is going to have to live out her last years with my flock. I'll post in another section of BYC about properly quarantining her and how to introduce her to everyone else.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  2. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    Congratulations on your first processing. I have to admit that I was giggling a little from your description since some of it was similar to when I processed my first chicken which was only a couple of months ago. I also used a web site to follow directions from. It actually went pretty close to how it was described on the other web site. I don't know about the spots on the liver but I am pretty sure the red spongy things are the lungs. I had some problems cutting the neck as well. I am pretty sure I needed a sharper knife and it sounds like your knife might have been a little dull too with all of the problems you had cutting the feet off. I used a milk jug for a killing cone and it worked better for me but I had already opened up the top some more to make sure the bird's head would fit.
  3. jenny_kap

    jenny_kap Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 20, 2011
    Quote:lungs, heart, liver, gizzard, intestines, fat. so, nothing wrong in there. seeing how fat that bird was, i would say it was pretty healthy. so, make a good soup or stew and enjoy it. if you still feel the smell, keep the bird on the freezer for a few days and cook it later, after you forget.
  4. Denninmi

    Denninmi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2009
    Ah, I think you did great. I've cleaned them before, just not killed them. My day (well, I guess its more their day) of reckoning is coming, they're a week old today when I account for shipping, so roughly 7 to go!

    I see little pale areas in the liver, but I don't think its anything major -- more likely just a bit of a "fatty liver" based on the amount of fat deposit on some of the other organs.

    Yeah, there is a bit of an odor to it. I don't think it "clings" to you as much as you think, once you wash up well. Some of it seems to be that the receptors in your nose get filled with these molecules and they persist there -- I have the same issue when I clean with bleach, can smell it for several hours after its long washed down the drain.
  5. BeccaOH

    BeccaOH Morning Gem Farm

    Oct 3, 2008
    east central Ohio
    I agree with dsqard. Your experience was much like mine when I did my first two. First I watched my aunt do an old hen (probably around 4-5 years old) from start to finish (chicken and noodles). She didn't even do the salt bath and resting period. Butchered that morning and ate it that evening.

    A couple months later I did 2 Dominique hens from my original flock that were about 2 years old. It is the "getting it dead" part that is hardest for me. [​IMG]

    Sounds like you did good. [​IMG]
  6. CowgirlJules

    CowgirlJules Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 26, 2010
    Atwater, CA
    Yup, looks good to me too. Older animals will have fatty livers. The first one is always a learning experience, isn't it!? And yes, the smell clings. I've found that a little shampoo helps with that. On your hands, I mean, not in the scalding water. I use dish soap for that. And I had to cut the bottom of my traffic cone twice before it was big enough for my first dual-purpose birds, and then again for my meaties.
  7. Renee'

    Renee' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2009
    Yucaipa, CA
    Something that may help with following Frugals' directions is to set everything up, in order, before starting. In other words, a mini assembly line so you don't skip/miss/forget a step. In addition to Frugal's steps/buckets, I added a bucket for organs and a bucket for feet. I just put a grocery sack full of ice at the bottom of the bucket. Seemed like I had a dozen buckets in the process but it was very effective.

    Something that you may want to consider is prior to the 150 degree water dunk is to dunk him/her in a 5 gallon bucket of warm water with dish soap, you can give him/her a "pre" bath to scrub/wash off the poo. If they are extra poopy then maybe a quick rinse in a separate warm bucket before the 150 bath.

    Good luck to you. My first buther day lasted 12 hours, there were two of us (not his first time). We butchered 8 turkeys and 25 meaties and yes, my hands stunk for a good 24 hours!
  8. chickens friend

    chickens friend Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 28, 2009
    Southwest virginia
    First thing is the smell does wear off after a day or so. You were having problems killing the bird in the cone with a knife, we use the traffic cone method and take a pair of pruning shears for pruning bushes and cut the head clean off, quick, effective, no pain, no chance of doing it wrong, and it bleeds out nicely. We scald with a kettle of water over a fire with the water at a rolling boil, put the chicken in and swish it around for 20 seconds and get it out and it has always plucked good. Restrict feed for 12 hours this will allow all the feed inside the chicken to be already go by the time you process, let them have water up to about a hour prior to processing, if you don't I have seen a hen drink so much water that it enlarges the butt area and during cleaning you will have water running everywhere.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011
  9. itsy

    itsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Firstly, thanks very much to everyone for commenting and for words of encouragement. I don't think I would've been able to do it without you guys. [​IMG] I'm nervous about processing my meaties that're coming in, but I'm going to make myself do it.

    Renee' :

    Something that you may want to consider is prior to the 150 degree water dunk is to dunk him/her in a 5 gallon bucket of warm water with dish soap, you can give him/her a "pre" bath to scrub/wash off the poo. If they are extra poopy then maybe a quick rinse in a separate warm bucket before the 150 bath.

    So I have a new question.... If the butt was filthy with poo and leftover rooster...and I scalded the chicken poo and all - did that scalding poo water taint the bird? Would you not want to eat it because of that?

    I don't know why I'm so worried about eating it. I guess I might still be worried about eating it even if it wasn't poopy. I told a BYCer that I'm even nervous about eating the farmers eggs for some reason. I have to get over the fact that it's still edible if it didn't come from the store.​
  10. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2007
    Ahhh... opened this up to taking a sip of my coffee. Nothing like chicken guts in the morning! LOL. Looks good from what I can see. I wouldn't worry too much about the liver like everyone else said. Disease usually will give really distinct ulcers that are white. Those pale spots could be a number of things, probably rejected by the inspectors but they will reject anything less than perfect on livers.

    As for the water, you will be fine... the outer layer of the skin comes off with the feathers. Like others suggested keeping your birds crated and without food for 12 hours will clean them out and also keep the feathers clean. Which all together creates a cleaner work area.

    It takes practice... stick to it. And the smell... comes with the territory.

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