What age do I butcher?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Tiss, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. Tiss

    Tiss Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 8, 2010
    I have 2 SLW cockerels who are about 16 weeks old. At what age to I butcher them?

    Also, this is my first time butchering birds. How hard is it really? I've read a couple of how to's on it and I'm a little apprehensive.

  2. tonini3059

    tonini3059 [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]Luv

    Nov 6, 2008
    Southwestern PA
    I would think that it would be now or at least soon for those birds. Butchering chickens is not hard, but it does take practice and can be a little overwhelming at first if you have never butchered anything. Just have the book or whatever close by, but not too close, and just go along with it.
  3. Tiss

    Tiss Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 8, 2010
    Thanks! I think I'll give them another couple of weeks. Good idea about printing out my how-to guide. Do you think I need one of those cone things or can I just tie them up by the feet?
  4. tonini3059

    tonini3059 [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]Luv

    Nov 6, 2008
    Southwestern PA
    I would use a cone, but it is not required. I used to just wring their neck and let them hang until they stop flapping. However, this led to some slight bruising of the skin which manifested itself as a red color, no big deal, you cannot tell once you cook it but it is a less attractive carcass if you would sell it. You could do what I just did. I am having cones made but they were not done in time so I just used an old gallon bleach bottle, just cut off the top and bottom. Good luck, it is not that bad and you get much better with practice.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  5. jarcoo0153

    jarcoo0153 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2010
    Levelland, Texas
    It is not that hard to butcher! My grandpa and me butchered some roosters, and he does EVERYTHING the way his parents did it. This is the way he taught me. His way may not be the most humane way, but it does have its advantages. (This is the way his family did it during the great depression, so that is all he knows.)

    First, He held the legs and and wings. and placed its head in between two nails that are in an old stump.
    Then, holding the body by the wings, on the stump, he used a VERY sharp Axe to remove the head, he says this is the best way to do it because the majority of the blood gets pumped out. Then we scalled the carcass, and plucked the feathers. After that he started dividing the carcass up. I am not sure where he cut or what he cut, but I found a book that has great step by step process. Its called Storey's Basic Country Skills. I bought it at Tractor supply. I recomend it ,it has a ton of useful info! And is well worth $24.95! It tells you step by step how to butcher on page 417.
    Hope this helps!
  6. greathorse

    greathorse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2008
    Northern Colorado
    Quote:Is your knife sharp?? Its time.
  7. Tiss

    Tiss Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 8, 2010
    Love the idea about the bleach container. I imagine a gallon milk jug could be made to do the same thing.

    Looks like the two boys have a date with freezer camp next weekend.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    How hard is it? The first one will be difficult but the second one will be easier. You will learn a lot doing the first one. Don't get discouraged with the first one.

    There are different techniques to processing them after the deed is done. Skinning works well but it does take a bit of physical strength. If you decide to pluck, pay close attention to getting the scalding water hot enough. That makes all the difference.

    Good luck!!!
  9. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    A kill cone can be anything, like a traffice cone, or a bleach bottle as suggested.

    Get your water to 145-150 degrees, scald for 45-60 seconds, test wing feathers to see if they release easily, pluck, then take off legs, neck, and finally gut.
  10. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] Yay, good for you for being brave & willing to learn something new! While it's still not my favorite job on the place (especially during the summer!) it has made me feel more empowered to have mastered this basic human survival skill.

    You could process those birds at 16 weeks, or wait a few more weeks to let them grow a bit more. They won't get tougher, especially if you let them rest in the refrigerator a day or more, and cook them slowly with moisture. But they'll have a bit more meat on them. Some folks just don't want to keep pouring food into a bird that isn't going to efficiently turn it into flesh. It's up to you.

    Your first session may be challenging, but you will certainly learn things to make future sessions much easier. It would be ideal if you could find someone with chicken processing experience, or even with hunting/cleaning game experience, to work alongside you. If not, even a brave friend or family member to provide moral support, good company, fetch tools, lend extra hands, scratch your nose for you, etc, would be helpful. Even if you have to go at it alone, remember that all of us here will be cyber-cheering you on & are there to answer questions.

    There are a lot of helpful tutorials, and many that are not. Here's some of my favorites:

    http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/2006/08/processing-chickens-with-my-son.html This gives a good description of what to do though he makes you wish you had all those groovy gadgets he's invented & made.

    http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/2009/02/how-to-properly-scald-chicken-my-never.html This gives a great description of the scalding process, essential for easy & successful plucking.

    This shows how to skin a chicken, if you wish to do that. Even if you don't it shows a GREAT way to easily clean out the carcasses.

    You don't need much equipment to begin with, but most essential will be:

    A good sharp knife if you're slitting the throat
    Somewhere to hang the bird at about shoulder height by his tied-together legs for cutting/bleeding/plucking, like a tree branch or fence post or rafter
    Something for a cone OR just duct-tape around his body, you just want to hold the wings still while it's finishing its last reflexive movements after it's Crossed The Road
    A deep pot or bucket for scalding. Water can be heated on your stove inside, or on a grill or cookstove.
    A table.flat surface at a comfortable height (about elbow high) for working
    Hose with trigger sprayer close at hand
    Good poultry shears for most of your cutting and/or a short sharp knife
    A container for the blood, fleathers & innards
    A cooler with ice water for the finished bird
    Rubber gloves if you wish, I certainly use them!

    Also, be sure to put the birds in a cage with no access to food, not even grass through the wires, for 12-18 hours before you process. They can & should have plenty of water, but no food. This will make it easier when you're cleaning them out.

    Post any further questions & please let us know how it goes! [​IMG] Enjoy your well-deserved meals!

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