When to butcher?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by BCollie, Oct 17, 2014.

  1. BCollie

    BCollie Songster

    Mar 22, 2013
    Redding, CA
    Hi all. I have 2 or 3 Blue Laced Red Wyandotte cockerels. You can see the two here that are for sure cockerels and one that is for sure a pullet. The pullet is on the left and the two cockerels are on the right. Their saddle feathers are waaayy too long for them to be pullets. There's another one, not pictured, that I'm also thinking is a cockerel.


    They are Blue Laced Red Wyandottes.
    About 6 months old.
    Weight unknown...can weigh them tomorrow or Saturday.
    No crowing or eggs from any of them yet

    What I'm wondering is this:

    1. When is the best time to butcher them? We are going to do it ourselves at home...Should we do it now, or should we wait until they start crowing? Once they're crowing they for sure have to be butchered because roos are illegal here.
    2. Can we break their necks before slitting their throats to let them bleed out? Seems so much more humane. Instead death then bleeding out, vs. slowly dying through a large cut in their necks... My utmost concern here is that their deaths are as quick and painless as possible. I've raised these guys since they were day-old chicks. I will not be around when they are killed and I will not eat them(vegan), but my family will. I can, however, help process them...getting off the feathers, etc...as long as the heads are gone. I know, you all must think I'm weird, but I need to be able to emotionally disconnect to be able to help with that. I will probably be crying but I think I can do it.

    Thanks in advance for your help, everyone...any tips would be greatly appreciated, we've never done this before.
  2. mtngirl35

    mtngirl35 Songster

    Dec 10, 2013
    I usually butcher anywhere from 4-8 months old. I have found that any older than that doesn't necessarily mean extra weight. If they dress out kinda small I use them for dumplins or soup. You could feed the roos a corn only diet for about a week to try to fatten them up if you want. I usually don't. I usually butcher first thing in the morning so the crop isn't full. Not necessary just less in the crop in case I accidentally slit it during processing. I have tried the hatchet, neck wringing, and bleeding them out. I prefer to hang them upside down in a cone and cut the artery in the neck. It seems more peaceful to me. They stay very calm if hung upside down. It is a little more difficult because sometimes its hard to cut the artery without cutting the windpipe. You can make a killing cone out of cardboard, or wire mesh, or even an old jug. Its easier to pluck them if you dunk them in scalding water for about 15 seconds then hang them up for about 10 minutes before plucking. Its ok to cry. I do sometimes because I truly respect the life I am taking to nourish my family. I love all my chickens, hens and roos.
    1 person likes this.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    You can butcher and eat any chicken at any age. The difference is how much meat you get and how you cook it. I have not raised Wyandottes but for dual purpose I normally wait until at least 16 weeks and preferable a few weeks older. It varies by individual cockerel, not just by breed, but I find that the cockerels grow fairly fast until maybe 20 to 22 weeks old, then the weight gain slows down. Those six month olds should be ready. I’m surprised none are crowing yet. It’s certainly time for that to happen, at least the most dominant one.

    How to kill them is a very common question. I never enjoy that part but it’s something I have to do if I’m going to eat them and my purpose of having them is meat. My general answer to the how is however you can. There are several different methods out there that work. A chopping block and something sharp, cutting their throat, the broomstick method, wringing the neck, and others. What’s important to me in all of them is that you need to be able to do it without flinching or closing your eyes. You want a clean kill, not an injury. And you don’t want to hurt yourself. So instead of worrying about the actual method, try to make sure whoever is doing it is comfortable with the method and can do it cleanly.

    I don’t see you as weird at all. We all have different experiences and feelings. I was raised on a farm and grew up processing chickens for the table. If I ever find myself enjoying the killing part I’ll start to worry about myself.
  4. BCollie

    BCollie Songster

    Mar 22, 2013
    Redding, CA
    Thanks you guys. My stepdad will be the one doing the killing, and I think whenever he has killed birds in the past(such as putting pigeons out of their misery when we've found them injured, etc.) he's broken their necks. I think that would be probably be the best way to go then, since he has some experience doing that. What is the best way to break a chicken's neck, though? I don't know if he's ever done it to a chicken before.

    I assume that after the neck is broken you'll immediately want to hang it in a killing cone and cut the head off to let it bleed out(and because I can't help if there's a head on the bird. Will not be looking at their faces while pulling out their feathers)
    After they've finished bleeding out, dunk in scalding water for 15 seconds
    Then hang them for about 10 minutes
    Then pluck/take out organs/etc
  5. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    I've heard the broomstick method works well - put chicken on the ground, put a broomstick over it's neck, stand on broomstick, pull on it's feet until it pops.

    I don't kill my birds this way, so I've got no actual experience with it.
  6. tadaen sylverma

    tadaen sylverma In the Brooder

    Jan 9, 2014
    Bit messier but I'm going for taking the head off with a cleaver nice and quick. Going to do 2 birds tomorrow actually. Will post back with results. Been a very long time since I've done it, I'm hoping I still have the stomach for it. You aren't strange. If you felt nothing then I would be worried about you. Taking a life, even a livestock animal is not easy for most people. In the end though you are talking about feeding your family. Something has to give. I am trying to make it easier on myself now by thinking of it as my only source of meat / food at the moment. It's not but who knows what life in this world will bring tomorrow. Gotta do what you gotta do.

    *EDIT* I better have the stomach for it. I got 15 chicks on the way next week and their sole purpose is freezer camp.

    *EDIT ( next day) *

    Well, I got a nice heavy cleaver, stump. Set up a table, water source, the works. Got hold of a chicken... yea I couldn't do it. It doesn't help that the birds we have now have names, they were purely for eggs and have had them 3 years give or take. I dont know what I'm going to do about the 15 that will be here next week...
    I'm debating the cone method, what freaks me is knowing its going to be all over the place, possibly trying to fly with no head and that is to much to deal with.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
  7. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    The cone method is definitely more ... calm.
  8. maggiemo

    maggiemo Songster

    Sep 1, 2012
    Front Range Colorado
    I get up before dawn and put the birds in a dog kennel. Then I get everything ready, the table with knives etc, boiling water, table...everything I need. Then I just grab a bird from the kennel and immediately hold it by its feet. It flaps a few times but settles down almost immediately. While it is upside down I put it in a cone or hang it by it's feet from a fence. They are very calm upsidedown . There is no chasing around or drama.
    Good luck.
  9. Fetch33

    Fetch33 In the Brooder

    Feb 18, 2013
    My method is to place in a cone and use a very sharp filet knife to quickly cut off the head. It is easier than looking around for the area to cut an artery. I can literally have the head off in 1 second...instant death. You do have to settle your nerves, pull down slightly on the neck and make a swift, decisive cut. The couple times I have cut the neck artery, it broke my heart to see the bird looking at me and blinking.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2014

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