What am I doing wrong?

trudyg

Songster
Jun 3, 2013
887
677
221
North Alabama
I'm just not good (yet) at butchering. I did 2 cockerels this morning. I planned on skinning anyway, but as I pulled out feathers the skin was tearing right off the bat. They would have been 20 weeks this Thursday, so 19 weeks and a few days. Both crowing and bothering the girls (why do they pick on the smallest hen who is molting?). I had pulled them last night, so the crop was empty and I had no trouble finding the tubes, but I still had a fight getting them away from the neck. Empty crop, so not a big deal. The problem came when I tried to stick my fingers down into the breast to free up the guts. I couldn't get my fingers in there at all, kept cutting away flesh but it was so tight and slippery. Went to the vent end, cut around the vent an poked fingers in there. Went fine as far as on the breast side, but the back was so tight I just couldn't get anything loose/couldn't get a grip on guts to pull out. I was afraid I'd break the intestines or gall bladder, so just cut along the back and released the breast and legs. So, basically, I pieced the bird out. Any idea why I couldn't get in the cavity? It was so tight, but even then it was so slippery I couldn't get a grip. Not a big deal, really, but I'd eventually like to have a whole bird for roasting.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
Apr 9, 2016
13,734
18,325
782
California's Redwood Coast
but as I pulled out feathers the skin was tearing right off the bat.
If you scalded before plucking you either did too long or not long enough depending on how much force it was taking. If you didn't scald it... doing so helps a lot.

Guts should come out of the vent end... I've never gutted a chicken from the neck.

Sounds like you did awesome and just need to practice! :highfive:
 

sylviethecochin

Free Ranging
Jun 14, 2017
5,468
11,116
701
Central PA
An opening the whole way up from the tail to the bottom of the ribcage is your friend. Don't do it through the breast; just get out the crop. If looking at pictures of intestines doesn't bother you, I'd do it, just so you have a good understanding of what you're grabbing and where it's attached. You don't need to worry about tearing lungs, liver, or testes, for instance. Those don't smell.

Most of the stuff that does smell will just roll right out of the "belly" cavity after being unattatched at the tail, and you can follow the tubes from there and cut away the stuff at the neck. You can cut the windpipe and just leave it in there; unless someone has an especial fondness for neck, it's just going in the soup pot anyway.

The key is to not be shy. You might rip something that smells really bad; chalk it up to a learning experience and take a nice, long shower when you're done. Chickens aren't really large enough to contain too much smell. I usually hang the bird by the feet, so I can use both hands. It's much easier than butchering on a counter, IMO.

EDT: Definitely agree with EggSighted on tearing skin.
 

trudyg

Songster
Jun 3, 2013
887
677
221
North Alabama
I wasn't cleaning it out from the neck end, just reaching in to loosen it up a bit. I already had the tubes and crop loose and did cut them off before trying to gut. It was when I went to the vent end that the trouble really began. I did cut slits from vent to ribcage but, wow, everything was so tight. Are cockerels of this age just small and tight? I did an older cock years ago and the skin/tendons were also tight. Maybe it's just a male thing. I've never done a female.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
2,988
4,776
361
North-Central IL
Depending on the breed and individual, cockerels really can be that tight, yes. I have big man hands (lol!) and I have a lot of trouble with super young ones.

You really don't need to loosen that much from the neck end, it will come out.

When you're trying to gut from the vent, reach in and all along the breast bone underside, try to pull apart the membranes all around before you try to pull the guts out. Also, try to hold a bit of it open away from your main hand with your other hand, otherwise you can get a vacuum seal going and that makes it much harder.
 

trudyg

Songster
Jun 3, 2013
887
677
221
North Alabama
Oh Compost King, that was fantastic! I'm bookmarking that one. And Mosey, thanks too, because that's exactly what was happening--I was getting a bit of a vacuum going on. Didn't realize it until you said it. I had a big enough hole, since my hands aren't real big, but the opening was closing around it pretty tight and no air could come in from the neck end. Next time I'll do better! Thanks!
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
Nov 27, 2012
87,732
105,753
1,737
SW Michigan
My Coop
Empty crop, so not a big deal. The problem came when I tried to stick my fingers down into the breast to free up the guts. I couldn't get my fingers in there at all, kept cutting away flesh but it was so tight and slippery. Went to the vent end, cut around the vent an poked fingers in there. Went fine as far as on the breast side, but the back was so tight I just couldn't get anything loose/couldn't get a grip on guts to pull out.
It is not easy, the fascia(connective tissue) is thin but tough.
Even after 30 birds I still can have a hard time loosening the fascia to get the guts out.
I reach in the neck end to break the esophagus and trachea and everything else loose as far in as I can reach, once crop and tubes are out, cut off neck. Just gotta keep poking at it until you feel it start it tear. Strong fingernails can help. In from the rear, same thing reach into break fascia loose, breast side first then down along ribs, you won't get everything detached from back, feel for the heart then start pulling.
Takes practice and can be frustrating.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom