What do we need to process???


9 Years
Sep 21, 2010
My husband and I are planning to start processing our own chicken. What all do we need to do this? What is a good way to learn how to do this? Is there anyway to get the materials needed to do this in a way that is not really expensive? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Nov 23, 2010
St. Louis, MO
The sharpest knife you can find is foremost.
I recommend a killing cone which I made with some scrap aluminum flashing and pop rivets.
With a killing cone you can cut the jugular and they bleed out well with little pain.
If you want the whole carcass you need a way to heat water to 150 to pluck it. Otherwise you can skin it like a rabbit. If you skin it, you can hang the bird's feet from a low branch with twine or wire to skin it and part it out.


12 Years
Aug 12, 2009
BuCo, KS
My Coop
My Coop
A sharp knife is all you really need. What I do is take the chicken and wrap it securely in an old towel (kind of like wrapping a baby up so it feels secure). At this point, its body is contained in the towel, and I can position the legs so they are together, while the head is sticking out from the towel. I sit in a lawn chair, and hold the chicken between my knees, mostly upside down. In this position, and with the help of the towel, I now have both hands free. With one hand, I hold the head and neck and can stretch it out so that it is in the correct position. With the other hand, I hold the knife and using the forefinger from the knife hand, feel for the jugular. Having the close contact with the chicken securely between my knees versus in a cone, I can feel it relax. My goal is for the chicken to be as relaxed as possible, partly for humane reasons and partly because my understanding is that all animals will bleed out better and the meat will be most tender if they don't have stress hormones streaming through their bodies in the minutes before death. I stroke the jugular area and talk to them until I feel them relax, and then slice quickly across the jugular. I wear muck boots so any spray can be easily washed off. When the wings start to flap, they are contained by the towel and my knees. It is quick, easy, and while I will never enjoy the task, I at least don't feel that they are suffering.


9 Years
Jan 2, 2011
Wartrace TN.
Cheapest way is buy a turkey fryer for around 40.00, I got mine at walmart and it is 30qt. perfect for scalding. A 1/2" drill from harbor freight for 39.00, a plucker from me for 39.95 plus 12.00 shipping, and a sharp knife.
Heat your water to 150f (turkey fryer comes with thermometer), you can take a empty feed sack cut small corner off so head can be stuck through and cut neck veign to bleed out. Scald in water swishing up and down for 30-40 seconds then pluck with my plucker for less than 90 seconds and your ready to clean insides, rinse, chill for hour or so in ice water then age in refridge for 24-48 hours then eat or freeze.
Less than 150.00 be harvesting chickens. Or go 650.00 tub plucker plus 190.00 scalder and then kill chicken. Either way is guaranteed to work.


12 Years
Aug 12, 2009
BuCo, KS
My Coop
My Coop
a plucker from me for 39.95 plus 12.00 shipping

Where did you get your plucker? I've been looking and haven't seen one for anywhere close to that. The thing I dislike the most about processing is the plucking and I'd love to have a plucker but can't justify spending hundreds for the handful of birds I do each year.


9 Years
Jun 19, 2010
San Diego, CA
I bought everything I use to process for less than $50 bucks.

1. Sharp fillet knife
2. Large cleaver knife
3. Table
4. Turkey Deep fryer/ cajun cooker (got it off craigslist for $20).
5. Two small buckets
6. Small cooler
7. Few bungee cords
8. Bleach
9. Tree loppers

After I got chickens I decided to hatch eggs and then decided to process extra roosters that I had hatched. So I started by looking up EVERYTHING I could find on the internet. There is a wealth of information out there you just have to dig for it a little bit. I looked at all the different methods, different styles, etc that I could find. I researched for a few weeks. Then I got everything I needed to do it, and then honestly just went out and did it. As long as they die quickly and humanely it doesn't matter what you do with the body afterwards, you can totally mess up processing it and it doesn't matter really, they are dead and it will still be edible.

Here are some of my thoughts and experience. It is DEFINITELY worth your time just to do a few here and there. I usually do about 3 or 4 at a time, but with one friend to help the most I have done at one time was 15. I do them all by hand and don't have a plucker so I think it takes me a little longer than other people because I am very scrupulous about doing a good job and getting the carcass as clean as I can. Older hens that are done laying or close to it are perfectly fine to eat, but you will probably want to cook them in a crock pot. Here is a wonderful article I highly recommend you read, it will tell you all kinds of stuff about meat chickens:


So after much research and trial and error here is how I do it. I have found this to be the quickest simplest way. First thing you will need are 2 knives, one fillet knife and one chopping knife. The fillet knife will be used for skin and the chopping one for cutting through the joints. You will also need two small buckets (mine are 2.5 gallons) with some fairly dilute bleach water. One bucket will be for the utensils to sit in or to be dipped, the other for dipping your hands or washing them. You will also need a pair of tree loppers, a turkey deep fryer (got ours off craigslist for 20 bucks), a few bungee cords, and a small ice cooler.

First of all you will want to not feed the chicken for 24 hours beforehand. Water is fine. This makes it so there is no half digested food in the intestines and makes it easier to clean. Then I catch the first one. I usually like to remove the food from the pen they are in instead of taking them out, that way they are less stressed. I catch the first one and sit and hold it for a few seconds to a few minutes to ensure it is relaxed and calmed down. Once I do this I lay it on it's side or back on my lap and tie a single bungee cord around both legs, I make sure the bungee cord is snug so the legs can't slip out. After the chicken is calm again I take him over to a tree where I already have the other bungee cord looped over a branch to where I can hang him. I then hang them upsidedown by the feet. As long as they are calm the usually do NOT struggle and just kind of hang there. I then get the tree loppers and place them around the neck close to the head. I make sure they are fully around the neck and give one good quick strong clip. This cuts the spinal cord and the jugulars instantly, which means INSTANT death for the chicken. There is no waiting around for it to bleed out while it looks helplessly at you. This is sudden, simple, quick and painless. The chickens wings will flap around a bit. You can use a cone nailed to the tree to minimize flapping, but I don't. I usually wait a couple minutes for it to bleed out and the take the knife and chop through the rest of the skin. Take it down and remove bungee. After all this I submerge the bird in the turkey fryer which has been heating up with hot water. (Use hot from the tap instead of trying to heat up cold hose water, works much better), usually for about 30 seconds. I put the bird on my table and start plucking away. Usually the feathers come right off but sometimes you may have to re-dip a few times. The water should be just below boiling, too hot for you to put your hand in, but if the water is TOO hot you can slightly cook the skin and it will slough off (still ok to eat though). Make sure you get all the pin feathers and hairs out. Once you have the bird de-feathered you will make a cut from the underside of the chest through the neck back up to where the head was, only cut through the skin. I find if you pull up on the skin it's easier than trying to cut it while it's laying flat on the body. Once you have this cut you will look on the right side under the skin and find the little "bag", it should be empty, this is the crop. Sometimes it comes out really easy but sometimes you have to cut it out. It will be attached to the esophagus so you will cut through that. Once the crop is removed I cut away any extra skin and I also re-cut the neck about 1/2" back from the original cut (this makes a much cleaner look for my friends and family). Ok once all this is done take your fillet knife and cut across the "bottom" of the chicken from back leg to back leg. The cut will be in the soft area, not on the hard part, but just about and inch or so under the vent. Make sure you are cutting ONLY through the skin and peritoneal wall, not INTO the chicken because you will cut into the intestines. Once you have a big enough slit you can get your hand in, you will just start grabbing and pulling. First you will see the intestines, the gizzard, then the liver and then the heart. You will spend some time pulling everything out and looking in there and pulling more. There are bright orange things that lay flat against the ribs, those are the lungs and they are kinda a paint to get out. I shape my hand like a scoop to get them out. Once you have gotten all the lungs tubes and everything else out is should pretty much look like the grocery store chicken. Last step is to cut around the vent and cut it out. Make sure you rinse inside and out very well and put directly into your cooler with ice water. Once I am all done I take them into the house and do a final re-cleaning and "go over"... I then seal-a-meal them (if the aren't too big) and you will want to "rest" them in the refrigerator for a few days before you freeze or cook them. You can also brine in salt water if you choose. You CAN eat them right away though, in fact I just did last night and it was delicious!

And I think that's about it! Hopefully I didn't forget anything! If you have any more questions or need to know more about a step please don't hesitate to ask!
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