• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

How to butcher a chicken?

 
Justin Rhodes
Posts: 75
14
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I recently published a somewhat controversial article, "How to Humanely Butcher Your Own Chicken Dinner".



I say it's somewhat controversial because some folks are offended by animal eating and even the method of kill (someone was bothered by slicing into the neck as opposed to chopping the head off).

I agree with my mentor who taught me, "every day something dies so that you can live".

It's never fun to kill animals, but if I'm going to eat meat I'd much rather do it myself than buy from the industrial farms and slaughterhouses.

Here, a commercial Chicken farmer reveals the truth:



Also, I thought you guys might appreciate a few of the videos I watched while researching the article:

Here's a high-quality video. Not sure about stabbing the brain? Love the drill bit plucker set up into a tub though:



Here's a really calm and quiet kill posted by Paul Wheaton:



Lastly, here's the incredible speed and enthusiasm of Joel Salatin:



You can read my article here.

What kind of methods or tools have you found useful?
 
John Weiland
Pie
Posts: 703
Location: RRV of da Nort
23
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"What kind of methods or tools have you found useful?"

First, our chickens are VERY free ranging. This ends up impacting what the meat is like as well as how to immobilize them. As noted elsewhere, it's rare to be able to catch one as they are fit, wily, and tend to stay out of your path. For the most part, we need fewer roosters, so one obvious way is to wait until 2 are fighting and just club one or both of them in the head. Otherwise from longer range, a .22 or .177 rifle or pellet gun is used to drop them and then they are immediately decapitated or whacked on the head to knock them out.

After decapitation, they are hung to bleed out. We've found this can be done over several days with no negative effect on the meat; less of a concern in the winter, but also in the summer if you hang them in a cool root cellar.

I've tried both plucking and skinning. Don't know if it somehow is due to the "toughness" from free-ranging, but I find skinning them rather difficult...have used several YouTube videos as a guide, but certain parts on the back and elsewhere just don't want to "peel" very easily. (Yet my dad always just skinned ringneck pheasant's after hunting, so I can't say being more wild contributes to this difficulty.) We rarely pluck/process more than 3 birds at a time. Plucking is pretty easy: Use a big Tupperware tub in one sink and fill the other sink to about half-way with cold water. While water is boiling, clip off the wings, but leave on the feet. Technically the water should be scalding, but it's often boiling when I pour it over 1 - 3 birds laying in the Tupperware. Using their feet as handles, slosh them around in the hot water for several minutes, then pour the hot water into the other sink 1/2 full with the cold water. Start with one bird, drop it into the cool water, then rest it on the edge of the sink and start plucking...a rubbing and plucking action starting from the legs and moving towards the neck. The sink with the now warm water is a great way to remove the feathers from your fingers...the feathers will collect in the water and, when done, just scoop the wet feathers into a discard/compost bin and when the sink drains, collect the residual feathers in the drain strainer. (Without this latter addition, we had feathers all over the kitchen.) Some parts will be more difficult than others...around the wings and tail, I just trim with a knife or poultry scissors. Second to the last step is cutting off the tail with a knife, then finally breaking the legs at the main joint and cutting through the sinews to release the feet.

Now the best part....hand them over to my wife for the evisceration! My excuse is that my hands are too big, but actually she'd rather do this part than the plucking or skinning, so it works out. In any event, she uses a poultry scissors to open the cavity and remove the innards, cooking the liver and other parts either for herself or the dogs. Do just a few birds at a time, and before you know it, your chest freezer is pretty full.
 
John Master
Posts: 512
Location: Wisconsin
7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
People tend to forget the animal will die regardless of whether it is eaten by a person or not. Rather for them to live a good life in an environment natural to them and be harvested on our schedule and make it to our dinner table to nourish us than of natural causes and just become coyote food or compost. Humanely raised critters are highly nutritious, too few people are aware that Vitamin A, Retinol is only available from animal sources.

Hoping to see the end of confinement animal production sooner than later, there's nothing good about any of it.
 
Julia Franke
Posts: 66
Location: Berks County, PA
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I recently processed my first batch of birds that were raised to be specifically meat.

I also butchered 3 laying hens that turned out be roosters.

I found it pretty empowering. To see our project from beginning to end and to also know that our chickens were raised happily and had one bad day. I feel like we are further along on our journey into the homesteading world.

One question: I have heard that you need to let the birds sit for 3 days after processing before eating. But in the second part of the "respectful chicken harvest" video, she says that she may be eating that chicken for dinner. How long do I have to wait from the time I harvest the chicken to the time I can cook it up?

 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1261
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
16
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Julia Franke wrote:I recently processed my first batch of birds that were raised to be specifically meat.

I also butchered 3 laying hens that turned out be roosters.

I found it pretty empowering. To see our project from beginning to end and to also know that our chickens were raised happily and had one bad day. I feel like we are further along on our journey into the homesteading world.

One question: I have heard that you need to let the birds sit for 3 days after processing before eating. But in the second part of the "respectful chicken harvest" video, she says that she may be eating that chicken for dinner. How long do I have to wait from the time I harvest the chicken to the time I can cook it up?



So it depends on your timing. It's rigor mortis that you have to wait to pass, 3 days, before eating. However, if you process your chicken quickly and get it right into the oven it won't go into rigor before you eat it. Also, if you freeze your birds directly after processing you have to wait 3 days (i wait a week in which I defrost slowly) for rigor to pass before eating.

I mean you can eat it with rigor but it will be so tough you won't like it.
 
D Cooper
Posts: 22
1
duck
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I have a rooster or bird to cull out. I get up before day break and pull them off roost. There is very little stress or fight at that point. I take them straight to the kill cones and get started. It is also nice to do them early in the morning because their crop will not be so full with food. If the bird has free ranged or is past 15 weeks or more they are often a little tough and the skin seems to be thicker. People are so use to the store chicken that are much more tender and thinner skinned. There is also a big difference when a bird is plucked via a plucker machine vs hand plucked. The plucker tends to clean the skin off as it tumbles and is sprayed with water leaving a cleaner whiter skin. On older tougher birds I often just breast them out and forget many of the other steps, unless you plan to use the carcass for broth or soup. I still personally prefer the cornish cross for the grill or smoker just due to the tenderness.
 
Niele da Kine
Posts: 45
Location: Zone 11B Moku Nui Hawaii
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
At one point we had a chicken guillotine. It was a kill cone fixed to a post with a spring loaded sharpened hand sickle blade below the cone. Set the blade, put the chicken in the cone, pull the string and then the headless bird would bleed out with out flopping around bruising the wing tips. We don't have that anymore, though, it got left when we sold the house.

Currently, I'll tie a bandanna around the bird's feet and hang it from a branch. Then with a thin sharp knife, insert it in the crevice at the roof of it's mouth and pierce the brain. Then slice the jugulars and let it drain. I'll usually hold the head and wings while it's doing that so it doesn't fling blood around. As soon as it's still, then the big wing feathers and big tail feathers will be plucked out. Just several at a time by hand works pretty well. After the bird cools down, they don't pluck easily anymore.

Hot water that is just on the side of too hot to put your hand in works for getting the rest of the feathers off. Using tongs, dunk the bird in the hot water for about ten to fifteen seconds. When it's done right, most of the feathers will almost brush off. They come off real easy.

After it's cleaned, it will usually be stored in salted water in the refrigerator over night.
 
It's just a flesh wound! Or a tiny ad:
Got Permaculture games? Yes! 66 cards, infinite possibilities::
www.FoodForestCardGame
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic