Which ones are gonna "Get It" first


In the Brooder
11 Years
Sep 12, 2008
I've had some Cornish Crosses going since August 6th. I've never done meat chickens like this before... some of them are staring to to look pretty large. They have very well developed combs and they seem quite large to me. I figure they are probably males.

I had planned to do them all on the second weekend in October when they would be nine weeks old, but now I'm thinking maybe I should spread the work out over a couple sessions and do the bigger ones now.....

Are they ready to go? Is the comb any indicator?

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I do the processing by myself, the "boss" does the packaging. I spread the event over a couple of days. The last 7 birds are going to be done this Sunday if it's nice out. I usually start earlier also, at around 6-7 weeks. I'll keep a few for the 8+ lbs range for family & company.
OK, I did the deed.... processed six today. I think I should have only done four for the first go. I was by myself and it seemed like those last two took me out of the "this is kinda fun" zone into the "hey, this is work" zone!

I went slow and took my time. I have butchered birds before but never chickens. Always used a good sharp hatchet in the past. Today, I tried the "pithing" thing I read about in so many other threads here. Gotta say it didn't work for me. I don't know if I had my knife pointed in the wrong direction or what, but I didn't get a "lights out" response. Not even close. As the bird suffered I felt like an a$$. I quickly went back to what I knew best.

I also tried a killing cone screwed to a tree. I used a one gallon water jug.... it didn' cut it at all. The birds were too big. I needed to use a more heavy duty plastic bottle or something if I was going to use a killing cone effectively.

I read on the other threads where people said the ones they pithed plucked way easier... I let my birds soak in the hot water for 90 seconds and they seemed to pluck easy enough to me... of course my comparison is to ducks and geese. A full grown goose can take a while.

I didn't really know for sure that today was going to be a go, so I didn't take any of them off their feed.... the first one was a mess but after that bad experience I was able to clean all the rest without any extra mess. I just needed to be smarter with the knife. From the size of the inards, I think there appeared to be enough feed inside each one of those birds to feed my entire laying flock for a week!

As I was working on the first one, I kind of thought to myself that it probably wasn't going to prove to be worth all the work when you can just go to the grocery store and buy chicken on sale for reasonable prices. But when I finished cleaning that first one, I was surprised how big the carcass was. I don't have a scale but it appeared to be significantly larger than what I normally buy at the grocery store. In fact, as I looked at it, I concluded that if I bought that bird at the store, I would think it had been given hormones or something, and I probably would not buy it for my family twice.

Ultimately, all six of the birds I processed today yielded pretty large carcasses in comparison to grocery store chickens. Of course, I fired up the BBQ and put one right on for dinner. During the processing, I thought there seemed to be an abundance of fat on the carcasses, but that did not really prove to be the case after the bird was cooked and cut up. It seemed to me that there was less fat than I am used to from grocery store birds. My wife agreed with that assessment, and she also agreed with me that the bird was significantly larger than we are used to. And of course, it tasted just like chicken!
I guess that's probably a tired joke on this forum.

From our dinner table, you could see the little outdoor kitchen I set up to do the processing. It was a gas stove to warm the water, a large plastic table for the cutting, and a smaller wooden table to do the wrapping. My 8 year old son looked out the window and saw pretty much ALL 16 of our laying birds under the plastic table scratching around. He said, "Hey, why are ALL those chickens under there like that?" My wife replied, "They're hiding from daddy." My son, then seeing they were under the table I had done all the cutting on said, "That's not a very smart place to hide." We all got a solid laugh out of that.

So at this point, it seems likely that I will regularly raise meat birds in the future. I liked the way they turned out. I liked knowing that they were not given anything "unhealthy" for our family. And most of all, I like the way it feels when you say the dinner prayer over food you worked so hard on. Much more meaningful.

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