Worried about slaughtering...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by PineBurrowPeeps, May 29, 2008.

  1. *sigh*

    I am making leaps and bounds in this whole farming lifestyle I've jumped into with both feet.

    As said in other posts I have 25 Jumbo Cornish chicks coming for dinners, the first week of June.

    My husband and I will have to process these birds ourselves as their is only one butcher in our state and they are EXPENSIVE to the point where it isn't worth it to us to raise our own meat.

    I have never killed anything bigger than a large spider. LOL [​IMG]

    I have been reading all sorts of things online about slaughtering and I geniunely feel like I can do it, moreso I feel, than even my husband. I am much more adept at going into a "zone" than he is and just doing what you gotta do.
    We have decided that at first I will kill the bird, and then he will scald and pluck and I will probably deal with the innards at first.

    Can you tell me about your first experiances with "processing" your birds? Is it fast?
    I am trying to weigh which methods are fastest for the bird, not me. I just want it to die as quick as possible. I'm not sure at first that I could break necks with my bare hands... I was thinking about cutting their throats and letting them bleed out like that, is that fast for them compared to just getting whomped in the head or having it lopped off? [​IMG] God excuse my choice of words, lopped, whomped...
    The other post title is great at summing up how I feel "Hold My Hand"
  2. bheila

    bheila Songster

    Feb 8, 2008
    Kent, Wa
    We just did our first batch of Cornish by chopping their heads off with a hatchet. I personally can't watch the whacking. I hide behind the fence with my fingers in my ears. Once their heads are off it doesn't bother me a bit. I didn't realize that the chickens kick around for so long afterwards though. I would much rather have my head chopped off than my throat cut. I suppose it depends on what you are most comfortable with. We just did 2 birds at a time. Dunked them in hot water, plucked and then gutted. I couldn't believe that it only took us an hour and a half for 6 birds. I'm sure we didn't break any records but it was fast for us. I can't imagine doing the process by myself. For me the longest part seemed to be getting all of the pin feathers out. I just ended up using needle nosed pliers. Now that we have raised our own meat for chickens I won't be going back to the grocery store for chicken again. It was somewhat time consuming and more expensive than what you can get a the store. But much more rewarding knowing that my birds weren't pinned up in some tiny cage never to see the outside world.
    Last edited: May 29, 2008
  3. FutureChickenMan

    FutureChickenMan Songster

    Oct 29, 2007
    Ok, here's my first timer experience...

    I used a good sized industrial meat clever (a big one, it weighs a couple of pounds don't try it with those wuss cleavers from wal-mart) and severed the head from the body in the traditional manner. Make sure, lemme repeat, make sure you get a good swift hard swing so that if you do hit a bone in the neck the force of the blade will go right through the bone. You don't want to have to make a second swing. Make your sever point as close to the head as possible, this will limit how much blood is available to the brain making the death of the brain much faster.

    Having two people will make it easier. I did it by myself and found that holding the chicken and doing the whomping was a little precarious. When you sever the head, the death part for the bird is pretty much instantaneous. You may or may not see the beak move a couple of times.

    The body however will flap around and sometimes hop if you let it fall to the ground. (go to youtube and search for chicken butchering you'll see what I mean). This is the central nervous system freaking out becuase it's no longer being controlled. I chose a different method. I used some string to loop around the chickens legs (while it was alive) which was much like tieing your shoe strings together. I used another string around the bird neck. Not tight enough to choke but enough tension to keep the head in place. I heald the neck string down with my right foot. With my left hand I pulled the string on the chickens legs, stretching the bird out over the chopping block. With my right hand I used the cleaver to separate the head from the body. Then I quickly hung the bird by the string on it's feet on a stick stretched across the top my big garbage can with the bird hanging inside the can. (keeps the blood from getting everywhere)

    The flapping will go on for a couple of minutes, but you kind of ignore it, your mind is in another place. The first time you do this you'll get an adrenalin rush and you'll be a bit out of sorts for a couple of minutes, but it does get easier. I've only done 4 birds so far and by the time I got to the 4th one, it wasn't a big deal. Grab the bird, string him up, whomp! hang 'em have a cold drink come back and finish the job.

    If you don't want all the flapping and all that, you might want to try the kill cone and using the artery slitting method. But I've heard that the death for the bird isn't as immediate with that method.

    Other notes: be sure to wear good rubber gloves, smock/apron and dark colored clothes/shoes. Be sure your blade is very very sharp and resharpen/hone after every couple of birds. Lots of clean cold water handy. An ice chest full of icewater for the cleaned birds to go in to.
  4. FutureChickenMan

    FutureChickenMan Songster

    Oct 29, 2007
    Quote:I've heard of some folks using one of those plumbers torches (used for soldering copper pipe together) to burn the pin feathers off. I'd think this would take a bit of practice though.
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    It gets easier everytime you do it. And you will get better each time. I'd suggest planning to do no more than 5 in a day, so you have all the time you need.

    Emotionally, it's always difficult for me, even to this day. But, I remember how chickens are factory farmed, and the conditions, then realize I should be feeling good inside because I made a difference on a small scale.

    Since I sell meat birds, I have to use a processor. It makes the whole process easier on me.
  6. LilRalphieRoosmama

    LilRalphieRoosmama Officially Quacked

    Oct 15, 2007
    Elyria, OH
    I just did it for the first time too and it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Took Dad and I 4 hours to do 3, so don't expect to do a ton your first few days. Here's how I did it:

    Yes, definitely use a good, sharp hatchet. Nail two long nails in a block of wood (you'll have to guesstimate the width, but not too close and not too far) [​IMG]

    We used a big fishing net and cut a couple snips at the bottom, just enough to pull the head through. Tie the legs together, then holding the feet in one hand and the bird in another with someone else holding the net, lower the bird in head first, then pull the head/neck out through the hole. Lay the head on the chopping block while holding the feet in the other hand. Once you get the head in, hold the feet and then have the other person whack off the head. IMMEDIATELY (and we learned this the hard way...) grab the bird but don't let go of the feet and stick it neck-down in a bucket, still holding the feet. It'll flap but at least the blood won't spurt everywhere. Only takes a few minutes. Then I rigged up my step ladder as a hanger - lay a board across that little shelf thing with a brick in the middle. I used chain and S hooks, and hung on the S hooks using the rope already tied around the feet. Use buckets underneath to catch the blood. I was surprised how little there actually was, of course most of it ended up on me and the garage floor...so have that bucket REAL handy so you can grab and plop it in as soon as the head's off.

    We used canning pots and heated them on the grill. Keep a couple going at all times, and heat the water to about 145-150. If you get the water going before the do the above, it should be ready when you are. Just don't let it get too hot.

    We did 3 in a row and got them hung. Let them drain for about 20-30 minutes (or more), then dunk and pluck. This, for me, was the longest and worst part. The rest was easy.

    I needed to really be mentally prepared to do this, and I found it wasn't so bad. Don't overthink it like I did...you'll be fine. Good luck!
  7. FortPatriot

    FortPatriot Hatching

    May 29, 2008
    Cutler, IN
    We just did 11 cornish x in about 4 hours. It was our first time, so it was kind of a learning experience. We used a water softner salt bag (cleaned out of course) in place of those killing cones that you see sold at poultry supply places (poor man has poor ways). Let them hang (drain) for around 20 minutes. A turkey fryer for a scalder - 145 degrees for one minute (2drops of Non/toxic biodegradable soap). We built one of those Whizbang Chicken pluckers - which worked great (30 seconds to pluck)! The hardest and most time consuming part for us was the Evisceration, to which reading the following link at the modern Homestead was a big help!


    Put them in Ice water for awhile and then we used the foodsaver!

    It was definetly a learning experience. The killing part was kind of hard to do, but we understood before hand that it would be. The boys went to grandma's house and did not participate this time around.
  8. hdchic

    hdchic Songster

    Apr 12, 2008
    We did a 'test run" of our speed and learning on 2 older birds we had. We used the cone, but found it was harder than people make out. I think we will still use it, but cut the head off instead of slitting the throat. We tied the feet together, and used a turkey frier with 145 degree water. We would dunk the bird in for 6 seconds, bring it out for about 5 then back in...we did it about 5 times. I purchased the gardening gloves that have the textured rubber and when it came time to pluck, these gloves did the trick. They got the pin feathers and all in no time! (the textured rubber grabs them all).

    The hard part for us was gutting. I didn't want to rupture anything inside and rish contamination of the meat, so we really took our time with it. We know now for next time where to cut and make it more efficient. Over all, it wasn't a bad experience at all, but we are not so bothered by blood and that type of thing as others. My sister won't come near the house if she even thinks we might be butchering! lol

    *note...sharp knives are key, and the icewater in the cooler...I was also told to get a good pair of kitchen shears, as they will reall help, too.
  9. kees

    kees Songster

    Feb 5, 2008
    Grab a firm hold of the bird and put the head inside pages of a large newspaper if you don't want to see it. I use a sharp fillet knife and make a quick cut and then stick it upside down in a blender that has the bottom removed over the sink so that the bird doesn't thrash around. (That freaks me out.) If you break the birds neck, it takes longer and the bird may still suffer. (Tried it, never again...kept hearing peeping sounds.)
  10. Shaun Hagan

    Shaun Hagan In the Brooder

    Apr 16, 2008
    Northern NH
    Does anyone stun them by swinging them hard against a tree? This is how we do grouse when we hunt them and don't kill them with the first shot. I would think this would make the whole process easier. (particularly if you are going to have to do it without assistance)

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