Went to a meat processor today

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by itsy, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. itsy

    itsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Well - Life happens. [​IMG] I still have a bunch of my meat birds left that are way overdo for processing. There's so much going on over here, that I thought it would be quicker and easier to have someone else do them for me. I found a local place that does them for $1.50 per bird. Dang - I was paying more than that for ice!

    My bf and I brought 4 roosters to have done, even though I have more to do than that. What an operation. Here I am thinking my house practices could be more sanitary. I'm so picky retentive about touching things at the house, where blood goes....all of that newbie stuff. WELL - you stop thinking that when you go to one of these places. I'm not saying they're dirty....but it was VERY DIFFERENT than what I expected. They've been in business over 30 years, so I suppose it's clean enough. Either way, it made me not worry so much about how clean things are here when I process birds.

    I was a little surprised about how they killed the chickens, though. There were a ton of dudes who didn't speak English, and I wanted to ask them questions, but they barely understood me to begin with. They kill the chickens right side up, slit their necks while holding them between their legs, and then throw them into a large garbage can. The garbage can was all bloody. They then take the chickens out and all go into a scalder at once. Nothing fancy, their legs aren't strung up on anything. They then pluck the chickens in a whizbang type plucker and gut them. It's a very quick process and not as neat as I do them at home. He asked me if I wanted the heads and I said no. He saved me the livers and the feet though, which he left attached for some reason. He also left the necks on. There was miscommunication for sure, because he took the legs off of the last batch of chickens and put them in the body cavity for the last person. When I got home, I just took them off myself.

    The farm itself is very interesting. They have all different breeds of chickens in pens, but they didn't have any broilers at all. They had goats, sheep, pig and rabbit. If you don't bring your own meat to process, you go to the pen you want and pick their animal. They were selling many chickens for $10 each or $2.00 a lb depending on the breed. You pick it out and the price includes them processing the animal right on the spot. They do it for everything there. I was tempted to buy a rabbit, but the experience was slightly traumatic for a newbie - especially my BF. They also sell eggs. They actually usually GIVE AWAY eggs, but they had a 19,000 chicken loss in our last heat wave and said they were charging for eggs at the moment to make up for some of their monetary loss.

    The same warehouse that does the chickens also processes the pigs, so we unexpectedly watched a pig be hung upside down and killed. I watched it's throat slit and blood drain and then they hung it over a scalder. We didn't watch the rest because I wanted to focus on my chickens who were next in line. My bf had a hard time watching that and had to go outside. I don't know if I'm numb, or more prepared for these things, but I stood and watched. It makes you appreciate where your food comes from. I'd like to start buying all of our meats from local farmers like this guy. I don't know if I'd want to go pick out the animal, but I might want to say - give me a rabbit and then I'd wait for it. Yanno? I watched my own chickens being done.

    Being there made me think of a couple things, though. First - if they are processing outside chickens - how do they know that people aren't bringing them sick chickens? Wouldn't other people's sick chickens contaminate things? Also - why don't they have killing cones? The chickens I brought home were definitely bloodier than I'm used to. I'd prefer them fully drained.

    Their cashier and one other dude spoke english and I was talking with them. They said that on the weekends, they let Jewish and Arabic folks come and either use their equipment or have their guys there to help so that they can be killed kosher or halal. I suppose they use killing cones then?

    I also asked them if they sold wool from the sheep there. They said yes and I was kind of excited to get some so I could spin it. They then told me it was still attached to the skin, so I passed. lol. They had about two sections of two foot high stacked pig skins in one barn stall. It really makes you think.

    After we eat these chickens, I'll decide whether or not we'll go back to finish the rest or if I'm going to do them here. I think if we go back, I'd bring an ice cooler with some salt water so I can stick them in there on the way home. When I took them out of the bag when we got back to the house, they were still hot and I'd prefer getting them on ice sooner. Anyhow, I just wanted to share my experience with you guys!
  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Personally, I wouldn't go back there. But not because of sanitation. You have a point about disease. You could have brought something home to your flock w/out realizing it. It's more about the way they don't bleed them. My dad didn't bleed them well when he killed them either and the meat was always darker than it should have been and it affected the taste. For flock sanitation you can always disinfect your boots. The rest doesn't sound too terribly 'unclean' to me. I'd hope they change the scalding water though when it gets dirty. Some other birds could have poo on them plus the blood and heat could contaminate the meat.
  3. itsy

    itsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Interesting thoughts.

    We're on different farms all the time and many of them have chickens. I should pay more attention to bio security, but I don't. I don't sanitize my shoes when we get home. None of us do, really. I hope that the meat doesn't taste too different that it didn't bleed the way I would have liked. We shall see once I cook em. Rigor set in almost instantly; they were much more stiff than my birds are, but I put mine on ice immediately.
  4. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Maybe I'm just snooty because I process my own lol. [​IMG] I'd imagine if I didn't, it might be difficult enough to find someone that I'd be more accepting.
  5. ScottyHOMEy

    ScottyHOMEy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 21, 2011
    Waldo County, Maine
    It can be a different experience. Each shop is different, but the reality is that any medium-to-large-scale butchering operation will look messy. A good one will always have plenty of water around and drains everywhere. All the water contributes to the messy, unsanitary look becaue all the small bits (especially feathers!) will stick until the place gets a scrubbing down at the end of the day. A good way to judge how clean they keep their operation is to get there before they start and see how clean it is.

    The place I use has a shed on the back. There are sliding doors into each of the two rooms used for bird processing, and another passing through the partition between them. The first room is where on e fellow does the killing and bleeding in cones. There's a tumbler-type scalder, and the plucker. As they come out of the plcuker he cuts off any remaining heads and will have asked if you want to save the feet. If not, he is the one who cuts them off, as well, before they go into a clean barrel with fresh chilled water to be staged up to go the the butchering room. He will have a helper who uses one of the several hoses to wash down the cones and will flush the feathers out of the pluckers as each batch of birds turns. He will sweep them up periodicaly. For being the cleanup man, he has an odd control over the pace of the entire operation, as he is also in charge of skimming the scalder and seeing that the water in it is gradually replaced. He's good at it, and any delays are minor. He has the advantage of one honkin' big burner under it to allow quick recovery if he has to rplace a lot of water to get things to his liking, but the birds don't go in until he's happy with the temperature and condition of the water.

    The birds from that room go to a crew of three in the next. The drawing takes place on a slab of Coryan (sp?). One of that crew will have asked what you want kept by way of necks, giblets. If the feet are still on, they will take that as evidence of instructions you gave the man in the first stage. They'll break up the work of each batch according to what you want. Before any cutting other than evisceration and removing the neck take place, the birds will have gone to a stainless table for any pinning that might be needed. Again, drains everywhere, and plenty of rinsing down. As they are done the pinning the birds go into another clean barrel of fresh chilled water and get a final check of the armpits and other areas for missed feathers. as that check is finished they get put into yet ANOTHER cfresh clean barrel of chilled water for a last rinse before the crew washes their hands to pack the birds into the owner's coolers or boxes the shop can provide, and iced down for the trip home.

    Knives go into a mild bleach solution, and all surfaces hit with a brush and squeegee with the same, and get a high volume rinse before starting on the next customer's batch. There's only one batch in the room at any time.

    I wtched perhaps 150 birds being done before they got to mine. They are good. Whether gutting or cutting out the desired giblets, they never knicked a gut with the knives. (Keep in mind the outside of organs are sterile, it's the stuff inside them that can make a problem.) From the way they do everything else I saw of their operation, I've no doubt that if they did cut into a crop or intestine, they'd have stopped and cleaned up before going any further.

    And the place could look a mess to anyone not accustomed to it. But I've seen it at the start of the day. I will show wear and tear but it is clean and sanitary. They are inspected. And they take their inspections and the quality and reputation of their work seriously. They pay to maintain and run both chillers and heater for their water. Chiled water for the brief storage periods during processing. Scalding water for flushing the feathers out as the plucker does its work, and for hosing down the entire place to clean up at the end of the day.

    This is not to go political. My opinion of the Kennedys is nothing I need to share, and any one else's is of no interest to me here. But I recall, on the death of Rose Kennedy, one of he grand-daughters s being interviewed. By way of conveying Mrs. Kennedy's efforts to remind her flock of that they are mortal, despite their wealth, the grand-daughter (one of Maria Shriver's generation) said that her grandmother always told the kids to remember that everyone will eat ( a loved this!) "a speck of dirt before they die.

    any of you who know the expression, it is a peck.

    Having satisfied my need to express my wry sense of humor, the point is that butchering is not a pretty business. It's messy. Even for those accustomed to it, it involves dealing with death on some level. But the mess of wet feathers is not exposing anyone to anything they weren't exposed to while the feathers were on the chicken. A cleanly eviscerated animal of any sort won't introduce any new hazard.

    And, getting back to that speck of dirt, there are germs all around us. Everywhere. Everyday. We actually have a resistance to most of them. when it comes to those that might be present or grow on our meat and other food, we refrigerate or freeze it to retard its growth. We then cook it to a temperature to kill any of it that remains.

    What you describe of your processor may be as effectively clean as my own given the nature of their work. if they were not, they wouldn't still be in business. Get your meat home quickly keep it chilled while the meat eases, if that's your preference. Freeze or can it properly. And enjoy.
  6. Noymira

    Noymira Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2011
    Chittenden County, VT
    Quote:If there is still blood in the birds you can brine them lightly to help draw it out, just keep replacing the water every few hours until it runs clear. I saw someone else, can't remember who, mentioning this on here. It's common among hunters processing fresh game.
  7. Tiffrz-N-Kidz

    Tiffrz-N-Kidz Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    Aledo, TX
    That sounds like the place we have here in TX. It was a whirlwind of activity, huh? Myu place does use cones, though but their scalder water was too hot I think and the edges of the meat got a little cooked. Also, after watching the careful processing videos on this site, I was pretty taken aback by the 'whack whack chop chop stuff slide" processing. They took ALL the skin off the necks so there was none covering the wishbone. :-( Next time I plan to just ask them to make them dead and naked and I'll do the rest. :)
  8. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    Is it normal that they would just hang a pig by its back feet and cut its artery? I would think they stun it first, don’t they? Sounds a little gruesome and stressful for the pig to me. I do my birds at home but if I had significantly more I might consider using a processor.
  9. becky3086

    becky3086 Crested Crazy

    Oct 14, 2008
    Thomson, GA
    This was a very interesting thread. I think I am glad that I do mine at home. [​IMG]
  10. ozark_chickies

    ozark_chickies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 19, 2011
    Quote:Not at all places. At the small slaughter house where I used to work, they are shot in the head with a 22, and then hung.

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