Return to the Harvest Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Butchering and canning some chickens?

Posted by tracydr 9b (My Page) on
Fri, Jun 10, 11 at 0:09

Mcmurray Hatchery sent me a batch of the wrong chickens! They are jumbo Cornish X meat Pullets, fat blobs! I'm going to try to sell them on Craig's List but assuming I can't, I have 25 Pullets that I need to butcher and can pretty soon. It's obvious they can't tolerate the heat much longer. They are 4 weeks old, about 2-3 lbs. I've never seen anything like them!
I could use any and all advice on processing these poor girls, I've never done this before. I cut up whole chicken to cook but have never butchered a live one, removed the feathers, bled or gutted it. Much less done ten of them!
The hatchery is being fantastic, sending me new chicks at no charge. Wish I'd figured this out sooner though, these girls are eating machines!


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Make a "killing cone"--we have done it with a section of chicken wire lined with a torn strip from a feed bag. We now have one made from a rectangle of thin sheet metal. Essentially you just take durable material and fold it into a cone shape--narrow at the bottom, wider at the top. The narrow opening must be large enough for the chicken's head to fit through. Nail to post or tree. Pick up bird and set in cone upside down--head coming out the narrow end at bottom. Slit throat and let bleed out. The chicken will slowly fall "asleep"--no flapping or violence. Once it is fully bled, remove from cone and process. With 25 birds I would suggest using an air compressor to blow off the skin rather than dipping and plucking. It is much faster and preferable if you are not selling the broilers but keeping them for yourself, and especially if you are canning them anyway and don't want the skin.

HTH


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

If you've never killed and butchered chickens before, get help if you can. I've killed and drawn many a bird (thousands actually--I was the gutter in a pastured poultry operation), and I can tell you that it takes some skill to do it right. Yes, the killing cones are great, but you have to make sure you slit only the artery and not the breathing tube. Plucking is relatively easy if the water is the right temp. If it isn't--too hot or too cold--it's a nightmare. And drawing the bird is easy once you know what you're doing--and a real mess if you don't.

There are undoubtedly some videos on the internet on drawing the bird--study them well.

And make sure you're using the sharpest knives you've ever had.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

tracy,

You are probably more enterprising and skilled than I, but if it were me I'd find a local expert to do the processing for me. There are places that will do small batches (or even one or two animals) for a fee, and I'd figure that would still be a pretty cheap price for the meat.

Good luck! I can only imagine your surprise, expecting layers and getting these chubby little things!

Z


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Tell me about using the air compressor. Since I'm canning, I was going to skin them.
Dogs are getting heads, feet, backs, gizzards and livers since they eat only a Raw meat diet anyway. They should enjoy a freezer full of goodies!
I'm assuming I should kill however many I can fit in the canner, get them on ice, cut them up and can them.
Repeat the next day.
Poor girls are suffering in the heat and I would like to take care of this before they start dying of heart failure. Besides, they eat a lot. A whole lot!


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

When I first moved in with my husband and cooked the first chicken meal for him he literally didn't recognize it! He walked in the kitchen and said "what's that?"
I found it hard to believe that someone could go fifty years never having once cut up a chicken carcass. He'd of course done the once a year turkey, but as far as he was concerned, chickens were boneless, white meat filets that come in packages from the store.
This chicken adventure is sort of my slow introduction for him to farm life. He's also getting used to taking care of the horses as we now have them at a place where we take care of them, rather than having them completely cared for.
We plan to move to either OK or TX in a couple of years when he finishes his doctoral degrees and I'm hoping I have him prepared. I've had to teach him things like how to use a t-post driver and put up a proper fence. (for an engineer you'd expect a little more common farming sense!)
My biggest concern is that he treats all living things as pets. That's fine with horses, cats and dogs but not so good with chickens, cows and other livestock, especially when i'm hoping that we can become more self-sustainable. I'm really hoping to raise all our meat and meat for the dogs.
Little steps. He said if I butcher the chickens, just don't let him know about it or see any of the remains and he'll be fine.
Now I know what it must be like to farm when you have toddlers to protect from the realities of farming!


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

tracydr,
DON'T try to butcher and can the same day. Waaayyy too much.
DH & I did 9 in one day (we're aren't very experienced, only 2nd year by ourselves and only a few each time).
We don't use a killing cone.
HE just holds them by the feet, lays just the head on the wood chopping block and "does the deed" with an axe. They flap around the yard for a couple of minutes (we live on 12 acres, no neighbors to be offended).
We do about 4 at a time. Then they get dipped in near boiling water (turkey fryer base with my big water bath canner on it). We pull feathers outside (a small kiddy pool worked great to contain the feathers), have cool running water near by for quick rinse.
We take them inside to clean and cut up.
DH guts/cleans, I cut up and freeze.

You can bone out the big chunks of meat and freeze them.
Can it another day. Works fine.

Roast the smaller pieces, enjoy dinner and make stock from the remains.

All the waste gets buried to keep wild critters out of it and not stink up my trash can since I only have once a month service.

There are several websites with differing instructions and plenty of Utube videos.
Good luck, sounds like lots of work!

Deanna


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Thanks Deanna. My freezer is pretty empty right now, although it may start filling up with tomatoes this week as I start storing up for a canning batch. I can always do a batch of tomatoes before I do the hens, to make sure I have freezer space. I'll take your advice. I'll kill one day, can the next.
Was already planning on not doing broth the same day as meat, just sounded like way too much processing.
These poor chickens are suffering in this heat and they're only 3 1/2 old. My Banties can still squeeze through the panels of the dog ex-pen so can't go outside yet and the jumbos weigh close to 3 lbs already! I went through 50 lbs of food in the first week. At first I didn't realize the mix-up and hadn't raised chicks in about 8 years. I thought something was wrong with my memory or the feed, I couldn't believe I didn't remember chicks going through so much feed before. I kept going what is wrong with these chicks?
Anyway, I feel sorry for the poor girls. They just lay there and pant. I've been placing their feed a little farther away and forcing them to walk a bit to make sure they stay strong but the heat is really hard on them. I would never have brought this breed to AZ on purpose, especially not this time of year.
I'm not looking forward to killing chickens but it's the right thing to do and I know I need to just buck up and do it. Just wish I had a helper. I'm going to have to do this on the sly. My husband doesn't even want to know about it!


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Tracy, Go through the phone book and see if you can find a processor to do it for you. It is a bad, hot, stinky job. It's not only the heat that is a problem, but those chicks are bred to become overweight and be butchered young. When that doesn't happen soon enough, there hearts just give out. I wouldn't let them go a day longer than necessary. We just had a beef done this week and I noticed on their brochure that they did pork and chicken as well and I'll bet there is one in your area too. They can wrap and freeze it for you and you can eat chicken all year without having to remember the processing. Tell them which parts you want to have frozen for the dogs. I thought our packing fee was quite reasonable. I hope you gave the hatchery a hard time.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

There are no processing places within an hours drive. I have them advertised on Craig's List and the RAW dog food list but I think I'm going to have to do it. They are 4 weeks old so doing ok still, I think they are supposed to be butchered between 8-10 weeks as Pullets, although I won't wait that long because of this heat. Besides, they eat more than all my dogs and my 4horses, combined!


 o
A little off topic... sorry!

"I'm going to have to do this on the sly. My husband doesn't even want to know about it!

Boy, does that bring back memories! Had a mini family reunion 12 days ago when I drove 500 miles to Minnesoter to "help" my 91 yo mom plant tomatoes and peppers that I started for her. (she puts me to shame when it comes to energy and work output) We reminisced about my chickens. Had my own garden space and a chicken coop even before started going to school. The local hatchery would almost give rooster chicks away in the spring. 4 cents ea I think. Just before winter my chickens disappeared. A couple months later my mom served roasted chicken for dinner. And it hit me! Put down my fork and left the table.

Anyways, it was an annual event for my mom's sisters and their husbands to gather at one of my aunt's farm and butcher chickens each fall. They set up special tables and had an assembly line where each person did a certain thing. The heads were chopped off with a hatchet. You can believe this or not, but I remember completely headless chickens running around for hours after their heads were chopped off.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Poor John, what an awful, traumatic memory, to see all those chickens running around for hours with their heads cut off!
No wonder the killing cone is the way to go. Cuts down on PTSD and nightmares!


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

I'm really not trying to argue, but I have trouble believing the chickens ran around for hours. We use an axe, they don't "run" at all and they stop moving entirely in about 2-3 minutes.
Is it possible that it seemed like hours because there were many being processed?

I'm sure it was very traumatic as a child, I'm sorry.

Deanna


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Cornish Cross birds are butchered at 4-6 weeks. Much older they start to die of heart attacks. If you chop their heads off, stuff the bodies immediately into a pail until they stop flapping. Keeps the meat from being bruised. They do not run for hours. Impossible. But they do get bruised and it's not pretty on the meat.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

I have one today that can't walk. They just passed their four week old birthday yesterday. I guess it's nearly time for some of them to go.
I've watched some videos and read some stuff. I'm pretty prepared. Wish it were cooler out. Going to get some bags of ice, make a make-shift killing board, rather than a cone. Will get to it next day that my husband is at school, probably the next day or two.
It's a good experience, just wish it wasn't in the heat of the summer and here in the city where some options are limited. It'll be fine. I've delivered horses, calves, puppies and done a lot of gross stuff while farming. I'm sure I can handle this.
Just hope they taste good!


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Tracy, they should be delicious. And all your work will be worthwhile.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Wish I were closer Tracy, I'd come help (in trade for a roast chicken dinner of course! LOL).
I don't envy you doing it the heat.
Right now I wouldn't complain about heat though, we've been so cool and cloudy all spring, everything is late! I'm normally eating snow peas before Mother's Day, but I am just now getting lots of flowers. Sigh........

Deanna


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Tracy, How is it going with these voracious guys? I've been wondering. (And I confirm, btw, that you are DEFINITELY more enterprising and skilled than I am to take this on by yourself....)

Good luck,

Zabby


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

> Poor John, what an awful, traumatic memory, to see all those chickens running around for hours with their heads cut off!
No wonder the killing cone is the way to go. Cuts down on PTSD and nightmares!

Tracy,

My mom said was more like minutes and not hours. Sheesh my rememory sucks! Sorry abt that.

PTSD... I've spent all too many hours at the VA hospital in Leavenworth, KS the last couple of years (not for PTSD) and you wouldn't believe how many veterans suffer from this. Heartbreaking.

Hope things went well!

john

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.miketheheadlesschicken.org/index.php


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Thanks Deanna and Zabby. Had to butcher the little crippled one yesterday. She was going downhill fast. I'm going to feed her to the dogs, she wasn't looking to good but the meat looks fine and smells fine.
It went ok and didn't take long at all. I just set up in my future lasagna garden bed so that I could cover any mess with browns and ran the hose over anything real quick to rinse, used sharp knives and skinned her.
I'm letting the others go at least two or three more weeks, unless they dont look good. My husband even offered to make a cone for me! I think his warming to the idea and won't have as much problem as he originally thought he was going to have.
I won't be repeating this experiment here in Urban AZ, but I wouldn't mind doing it when we move to the country in a couple of years. I've always raised my own beef and purchased FHA pigs for my meat so this would be a natural extension. Especially since I've had poultry of all kinds for probably twenty years. I've had all sorts of game birds, peacocks, guineas and laying hens, plus bantams.
BTW, my new batch of the right chicks came this week. They sent a full 28 to replace 17, a mix of 5 breeds and they are just the cutest. A bunch of smaller breeds that should be very heat tolerant, although possibly flighty. Hopefully won't be flying all over the neighborhood! I got Egyptian Fayoumis, buttercups, golden penciled hamburgs, silver leghorns and some aracaunas. Plus, the old English bantams that I already have from the first order. (I missed my little, cocky old English bantam Roos!)


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

"My mom said was more like minutes and not hours. Sheesh my rememory sucks!"

I had to chuckle, because to an impressionable kid.......it would seem like they ran around for hours.

"He said if I butcher the chickens, just don't let him know about it or see any of the remains and he'll be fine.
Now I know what it must be like to farm when you have toddlers to protect from the realities of farming!"

No......your farm kids get exposed to the facts of life about where meat comes from right from the get-go. I once asked my g'son which one of the new feeder calves was his fav? His answer was #24 and he said "G'ma, we don't give them names.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

After reading Charlotte's Web to my then 4 year old, I asked her what she wanted for breakfast the next morning. Her answer - "Wilbur and baby chicks" - or bacon and eggs to the rest of us.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Ah, you are a much braver woman than I!

I have a biology degree, so I've dissected a lot of animals, and I also cut up whole chickens to eat. Which freaks my mom out. She's one of those people who can't handle eating meat that has bones in it because it reminds her that it came from an animal.

But I still have never actually killed an animal, just cut up ones that were already dead. I'd be afraid I'd do it wrong so either the animal would suffer or the meat would get messed up (or both). I'd feel much better with an experienced person there to show me how to do it rather than watching YouTube videos, but I guess those sorts of people are hard to come by these days.

I hope they taste delicious! And maybe now that you know how to butcher chickens you might buy some meat birds on purpose some time.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

  • Posted by natal Louisiana 8b (My Page) on
    Sun, Jun 26, 11 at 15:50

Deanna, if you're around check your email. It's regarding the pic you posted with your address.


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Yeah, the killing is the only part I'm nervous about. I mean, I've gone to medical school, done surgery rotations and before that I did animal science.
My husband, though, won't even eat chicken until I debone a breast off the carcass for him. He'd like to think they come from the grocery store boneless and are somehow made that way.
Mellyofthesouth, that is so cute!


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

I'm around, but my gardenweb email goes to my work computer and I can't access from here.
Ann_T called me early this morning to talk about it.
So far it hasn't disappeared, but I'm ready with an updated photo.
I'm not overly worried, but it was still a pretty stupid move on my part. Thanks for the heads up and "watchin' out for me". I need all the help I can get!! :)

Deanna


 o
RE: Butchering and canning some chickens?

Well if you think you can't do it you can look for an expert farmer that can help and teach you on how to do it the right way, well that's what I did

Here is a link that might be useful: Chicken Farm


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Harvest Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here