What are the best tools to process birds?


Crooked Creek Poultry
8 Years
Sep 20, 2011
I will be culling with a chopping block and using an axe. Dh and I have been shopping for some tools to butcher with. I have a cheap boning knife, and he has a cheap gutting knife. I bought a poultry set at wal mart too but none of the tools appear to be something that are going to last or do the job we want them to do.

I have a very old sharpening wheel ( the kind you sit on like a bike and push the petals to turn) but I had a hard time getting things sharp.

What does everyone use? I have looked around the internet and seen some really nice expensive knives but want some BTDT advice.

My feelings about slaughtering improved greatly after I shelled out for some quality knives and scissors. I use (and recommend) knives from Friedrich Dick, specifically their 6" boning knife, 8" double-bladed sticking knife, and poultry shears. The carbon steel holds an edge better than stainless steel, and the ergo-grip is very nice when things get messy.

I usually have a professional knife sharpener do my knives, but after two years I haven't had to have my F. Dick knives re-edged yet. I just use a regular kitchen sharpening steel before use.

If you're interested, I found Instawares restaurant supply to be a good online vendor of professional-quality items: http://www.instawares.com/cutlery.

(BTW, "culling" just means you're removing an animal from the breeding stock. It can also mean rehoming, keeping as a pet, etc. Slaughtering is slaughtering.)

Good to know, and thanks for the link I'll be checking it out and getting a budget together.
Well... I just use a very sharp boning knife... for the whole process. No special tools. Just hold bird, slice neck, bleed out, pluck/skin, gut, and part out. The key to it all though is sharp. You want sharp sharp sharp. Dull knives are a pain. And re-hone often. Feathers dull knives very quickly.
I pay someone to process most of mine but the ones I have done I used a boning knife that was razor sharp. I sharpen them myself. If you can't get a knife razor sharp you should pay someone to sharpen it for you.

I bought a Chef's Choice three stage electric sharpener for my mother for Christmas. They are awesome. Even if you can sharpen a knife, you will love how well they put an edge and rehab your edges. Well worth the money.
I agree. I just take my two favorite knives and a good honing tool. They sell lung scrapers; I use my fingernails.

And a decent clamp-on thermometer is handy, though not necessary, if you're going to hot water scald.
The sharpest knife you can get.
Killing cone - mine is homemade from scrap flashing.
Several buckets, clean one for dunking in hot water and one for feathers, one for guts.
I use the sharpest object I can find - stainless steel scalpels from havels.com
The only other knife I use is an older heavy butcher knife to chop the head off.

Only other tools are a bucket, cutting board, and my canning water bath pot to scald in. I use a Foodsaver to bag and seal, and maybe a bowl to put organs in that I want to keep.

If you'd like you can see pictures step by step in my blog:

As sharp and as inexpensive as you can find. This is my processing station, made from a reclaimed yard swing frame & etc:


The yellow 5-gallon bucket is for scalding, I heat the water on the stovetop and my teen son hauls it out when I'm ready to pluck. There are also wire hooks on that frame between the cones so I can hang my birds by their zip-tied feet for plucking, and have 2 hands free for the job.

For the dispatch I use a fish fillet knife that I got at WalMart, for cutting between the bones to remove legs & necks I use my Joyce Chen Unlimited Scissors (bought on clearance at my grocery store), and for cutting into the cavity I use a paring knife I bought at Sam's Club. For removing lungs I use my fingers or a grapefruit spoon.

To keep my knives sharp I use this little sharpener I bought at the hardware store.

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