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special equiment needed for 25 chicken harvest?

 
Beth Mouse
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I ordered my first batch of meat birds--25 Freedom Rangers. I am wondering if I need special equipment to butcher all of them at once? I could purchase a killing cone and attach it to a wall and set up a table outside. That just seems like a lot of birds and I haven't butchered before. Just trying to come up with a plan. I could give 5 to 10 of them away to neighbors (we trade a lot) and maybe 15 to 20 would be more doable.

Thanks,
Beth
Idaho
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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bee chicken fungi solar trees
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When I butcher chickens alone, I usually only do about 5/day. More than that is a chore. Watch youtube videos including Paul's 2 part Respectful Chicken harvest. Off the top of my head you need:
A sharp knife
Killing cone is optional
A way to boil water for dunking prior to plucking.
A bucket for feathers and offal
Bowl/Ziplock bags for giblets
Bowl/Ziplock bags for feet (or feed 'em to your dog)
Large container/cooler with cold water to cool down the carcasses.

 
George Hayduke
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I'd suggest you butcher them over a period of months and not all at once. You're going to want to practice on a few to get it right. Like most things, butchering is a skill that needs to be learned, and you'll want to experiment with the right way to 1) kill, 2) scald, 3) eviscerate, 4) pluck, 5) chill until not stiff. I'd recommend you start with one or two birds. A week or so later do a few more, etc. After a while you'll be a pro, but it takes some trial and error. There's no way I'd jump in with 25 at once unless you have professional help.
 
Beth Mouse
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Thanks CJ and George...does anyone know if Freedom Rangers can go one or two months longer after 9 to 11 weeks without suffering broken legs and such like Cornish Cross. I could aim to butcher 5 each weekend.

Beth
Idaho
 
George Hayduke
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Freedom Rangers allegedly are derived from crossing heritage breeds, and I assume they can grow out to an old age. They have the body type of long-lived chickens. I wouldn't hesitate to keep them for months and then butcher them. Bresse chickens, the ultimate meat breed, are frequently slaughtered at an advanced age.
 
Cj Sloane
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
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2 years ago I had a slow Cornish Cross who somehow escaped my clutches when I was in slaughtering mode. I didn't get around to putting him in the soup pot till he was 9 months old. He didn't have any health troubles at all so the Freedom Rangers should be fine too.
 
Jeff Mathias
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Location: Westport, CA Zone 8-9; Off grid on 20 acres of redwood forest and floodplain with a seasonal creek.
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Beth,

5 a weekend is an excellent idea. For that many birds you will appreciate a killing cone. Also if you are going to pluck them some form of powered plucker is really desirable. I searched around before we did our 25 last year and this product came pretty highly recommended for a small number of birds; http://stores.powerplucker.com/power-plucker/ . It is messy as hell so be prepared for that in advance. Otherwise you can skin a chicken without plucking which seriously reduces the work involved.

Good Luck,

Jeff
 
Beth Mouse
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Thank you so much for the advice. I am going to get that Power Plucker! Can the waste I can't use after harvest be put in the compost along with the blood if I bury it deeply? I have covered a dead lamb in wood chip bark and it decomposted over the summer and didn't attract any pest or predators, so should probably be fine.


Beth
 
Darin Colville
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Amazing scratchers also. A great chicken tractor/compost turner! You'll never be able to eat chicken elsewhere. I've had maybe 3 per 100 die from overgrowth. The more free range food the better.(health & flavor)
 
Phillip Swartz
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Location: Upper Midwest - Third Coast - USDA Zone 6a/b
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Honestly, I think you're better off doing all the birds at one time. For starters they will all be mature at roughly the same time and you'll start losing money to feed birds which are no longer gaining muscle mass. If you absolutely can not find anyone to help then maybe do a few birds each weekend. I like to do all of the birds in one shot because I've taken the time to set up all of the equipment and after doing about 5 birds my crew really gets into a groove and 25 birds will be done quickly. Also, you'll only have to clean up feathers once If you decide to do the birds in increments you may find that the overall time involved is much greater and you will have to relearn the technique each time.

Watch a lot of videos about the correct procedure. Maybe invite over a friend who has experience. Get a crew of at least three people together. If you decide to pluck by hand try to have at least two people doing that job. You'll need one person for catching/killing/scalding plus the pluckers, then one person for eviscerating and final clean up and chill down. Scalding properly might be the most important part of the process - a good scald helps the feathers release easily. Rubber gloves help hand pluckers grab the feathers. A garden hose with high pressure spray is excellent for washing away feathers and cleaning out the insides of the bird after eviscerating.

You'll want a sharp knife for cutting the throat because feathers tend to get in the way. I stopped using a knife for anything else except maybe cutting the joint between leg and foot. A high quality pair of stainless scissors does a much better job for eviscerating a chicken. You may want a larger cutting tool for snipping off the head and neck.
 
John Pollard
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Location: Ozarks
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If you're going to do this on a regular basis, then a tub plucker would be best. Most are pretty expensive but you can make your own. Do a web search or youtube search for whiz bang chicken plucker.
I'm wanting to get some of the red rangers/broilers and although they come from 4 grandparent lines and are not supposed to breed true to type, I have read where some people have bred them and still end up with good meat breed properties.
 
Suzanne Gossett
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I agree with the five a weekend, especially if doing alone. I like both plucker ideas. However, on the cutting or snipping off of the head...definitely watch joel salatin. He just pulls the head off, and cuts the feet off. He talks you through the process. And he shows how to remove the windpipe, esophogus and all. I have watched a lot of his youtube videos, and learned a lot! Good luck!
 
I agree. Here's the link: https://permies.com/battery
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