Butcher Day: Meat Chickens

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Attention Readers: Some pictures contain blood.

Yesterday was butcher day for half our flock of meat chickens. They are Cornish Rocks. The key is to have hot water or the rotten chicken feathers will not pull off.

My father, my husband and I processed 13 chickens in 2 hours. And for our first time butchering, I thought we rocked it.

Our birds weighed roughly between 5 – 7 pounds after 8 weeks of raising them. They are not filled with hormones and other growth stimulators. They were raised on a natural blend of grains (from a local feed supply) and for the last two weeks of life, they foraged grass inside our chicken tractor. When you buy a rotisserie chicken at Meijer, it will weigh 2 – 3 pounds, and you will pay $5.00, which would mean that my 6 pound chicken would cost $15.00 at the store. But because we raised our own, when we subtract feed and bedding, they costed us roughly $6.50 a piece! Between the cost of savings and the knowledge of what I’m actually consuming, I’ll keep raising my own chickens.

Now if you’re thinking you’d like to do it too, let me walk you through butcher day, so you will know if you can handle it.

Step One- Take out all food 12 hours before the butcher.

Step Two- Get all your supplies and equipment set up. Needs: Sharp carving knives for slicing the throat and gutting the bird, metal bucket, 6 ft. table, cooking thermometer, salt, 3 totes (depends on amount of chicken), bags of ice, 2 gallon freezer bags, hose with a spray nozzle.

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Step Three- Get the fire started and water close to boiling in the bucket. Water should read 180 degrees.

Step Four- Slit the throat of bird and hang upside down for three minutes to bleed it out.

Step Five- Dip bird in and out of hot water for thirty seconds. Pluck out all feathers. Then blow torch off the small hairs.

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Step Six- Put bird into cold, saltwater. (Helps draw out blood)

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Step Seven- Cut off the legs. Put bird on its back with chest facing up, slice under the top of chest cavity (breast). Pull out all the organs until bird is clean within (the gizzard and heart are good eat’n if you’d like to keep). Cut off the oil sack on the tail. Hose the inside of bird. Stick into bucket of ice.

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Step Eight- Continue procedure for all other birds and then double bag the birds in Ziploc freezer bags.

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Step Nine- Celebrate and eat those good chickens!

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This is a quick version of the process. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Also one book you ought to purchase is “Pastured Poultry Profits” by Joel Salatin. It has everything you need to know about meat chickens and egg laying hens.

We are on the road of small hobby farming. One small step for the Cordero’s, one giant leapt toward self-sustenance! 

 

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3 thoughts on “Butcher Day: Meat Chickens

  1. Good job, Catie. 13 in 2 hours sounds like a pretty good pace to me. First time I tried with 2 birds, I ended up making a total mess of it. I still don’t enjoy the process, but I can do it. Good job documenting it delicately, but still providing a lot of detail.

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