Well.....todays butchering job did not go well. Please help!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by mmtillman, Nov 19, 2009.

  1. I really botched up today butching one of my poor roos. My cone was too small, so I tried to remove his head quickly with my sharp knife....BUT, I could not cut thru the feathers on his neck [​IMG] !!!
    I felt like he was suffering so badly and I felt terrible, as I was literally sawing at his neck with no luck at all ....his feathers were so much heavier then the last 2 I butchered. His cape probally was the reason??
    I finally did deed using the pull method with my foot on his head , but I know he died a horrible death, by then.
    I do NOT ever want to put one of my poor birds thru that stress and pain again.
    My hand strength is no good at all ( arthritis ) so that did not help matters either.
    Bless his heart, I kept telling him how sorry I was as I did it....and he probally wont be any good to eat if stress before butchering is a factor in tender meat??
    This was my 3rd time and I got the rest of the job done ok....but killing it has got to be less traumatic..... I will check the butchering forum tips again ....I guess I just needed to confess how awful I feel about it ...[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  2. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] Awww, I'm sorry for the experience, both for you & your roo. There's a chance that he was "mostly dead" after your first cuts and a lot of that flapping was reflexive. And also, he probably had less trauma at his end than many birds have in commercial operations. It's certain he at least had a better life.

    The stress shouldn't affect the meat, just make sure to let it rest for 1-3 days in the refrigerator before cooking or freezing. You owe it to him to enjoy every bit of it. And you've done a lot of other birds a great service by posting your problems so others can learn from it.

    You shouldn't have to slice through feathers to dispatch a chicken. Look for the place just below the jawbone where there is just skin. If you're cutting through feathers you'll dull your knife and, as you learned, make the job so much more difficult if you have a dull knife to start with. Next time have a good sharp knife -- I use a filet knife I got from the fishing dept at WalMart -- and slice through the bare skin just below the jawbone. It also helps to gently grab the head, pull the neck taut, and bend the head a little away from where you will cut, so the skin is stretched a bit.

    There's usually something to learn in every session to make the next time go even easier.
  3. Thanks sooooo much Sunny side up and Teacher! You both gave me some very good info and I will definately be better prepared next time. I hunt and eat squirrels, rabbits and other wildlife so this experience was not a new one except for the dispatching part. I usually use a .22 so hands on killing of an animal was a little too personal. I had help the first 2 times ...today I flew solo.
    I cant tell you how much I am learning from BYC ! Thanks again!! [​IMG]
  4. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    The first time I had to dispatch a bird I had the same problem, the problem was the knife. I pretty much ended up sawing like you described. I had to take care of a sick hen this morning, but this time grabbed one of our best boning knives and ran it across a kitchen steel a few times. The razor sharp knife had no problem with it. I also cut like Teacher described...
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2009
  5. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    These helped me tremendously:



    I have dial-up, and they load slowly, but it was worth the wait. I just clicked the "pause" in the lower left corner, and went to do other things while waiting.

    I don't have a lot of hand strength either, and drop things a lot. The slaughter method in that top link is the easiest and quickest I've tried. The birds were dead in seconds, and there was less flapping, too, because they bled out so fast.

    To pull the head down so the neck skin is taut, (bird either in a cone, or hanging upside down by the feet, I use a slip-knot loop) I found that if I hook my index finger around behind the head, and put my thumb against the underside of the beak, I can hold firm more easily than other holds I've tried. I can press the beak down with my thumb, shift the angle a little from one side to the other, to slice both sides of the neck. It also allows me to tilt the head slightly to open the slices up more so the bird bleeds faster. You'll see Grady (in the video) do that, too. The bare spots (with bird upside down) are just slightly above the beak and earlobe, so you'd be just below the jaw, if a chicken had a jaw.

    If the skin is loose it won't cut easily, and feathers will just dull your knife. Don't feel too bad, we've all had our butchering day fiascos. He had a good life, and will still taste just fine. Give thanks for his life when you cook him up, and use the experience to learn to do it better. That's all any of us can do. [​IMG]
  6. comp6512

    comp6512 Songster

    Dec 3, 2008
    Wow,just wow. Sorry your butchering turned out so bad. [​IMG]

    I am in a same boat. Four out of our five roos will have to be dispatched in about two months. As you can imagine, I am already all stressed out about the whole ordeal.

    What I was thinking - instead of using the knife and trying to saw the bird's neck, we would use some heavy duty shears, like pruning shears, and just cut off the head. I understand that this method will impede the bleeding, but I think (in theory) it will be instant for the bird and not too stressful for us.

    Opinions welcome!
  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I think it's worth it to learn how & where to do the cuts with the knife, and to obtain a good knife & an even better sharpener. These tools needn't be expensive, just effective. If you keep the knife sharp and make the cuts through the bare skin you can give your birds a quick and humane end. With the first cut they lose so much blood quickly that they die instantly. Don't let all that flapping & wriggling in that first video unnerve you, that's all reflexive after-death movement, those birds are not feeling any pain there. But their hearts are still pumping out the blood, giving you a much cleaner carcass.

    I've heard a lot of folks say they've had success with the hedge clippers or loppers, but I've been hesitant to try it. I've been concerned that the blades wouldn't make a good clean cut and it would be like trying to cut through a thick green branch. With the blades not making a cut but instead making the neck bend at an angle between the blades. Maybe I just have cheap ineffective loppers. Or perhaps Mister keeps dulling them by trying to cut branches too thick for them to handle.
  8. jaku

    jaku Songster

    Quote:I don't think you will have to worry about not eating him because of stress. However, you definitely need a sharp knife- I just use the blade of a utility knife for killing. Also, you have to kind of move feathers out of the way, so you are looking at SKIN in the area you're cutting. That makes a huge difference.
  9. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    A while back I had mentioned some hand pruners I had. I haven't tried it on a bird though. The pruners I am talking about are hand pruners that have a very sharp blade that come down on an anvil. The pruner I had would cut hardwood branches an inch thick with ease. These might work well:

  10. protodon

    protodon Songster

    Mar 3, 2009
    I recommend using a scalpel and changing blades as needed. A new blade is razor sharp every time. It cuts right through feathers and skin, no problem.

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