Warning Graphic Photos!: My weekend Learning to process Chickens

I actually debated on if I should post these photos or not. Many people are very sensitive about butchering animals. But my goal here is to share with everyone things I have learned through our adventures in homesteading. Too many people now a days are disconnected with their food. They would rather buy meat from factories where the animals have no quality of life whatsoever and are pumped full of antibiotics and medicated feeds. These birds that we butchered were free ranged in EVERY sense of the word(NO chicken tractors for them) even though people will swear up and down and left and right that you cannot free range meat kings that their hearts and legs cant handle it or that they are too lazy and wont range. The methods that I was taught were both ethical, fast, and respectful. The birds that were lovingly raised weren’t stressed by a long trek to a facility and they were killed in a way that they only thrashed after their hearts actually gave out(Death throws).

we processed. All 25 birds with no issue at all thanks to the plucker our friend borrowed. I’m hoping I might be included in a co-share on a plucker in the future if all goes well!

Our friends dog enjoying processing day!(Chicken feet are GREAT for dogs teeth!)

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WARNING: Graphic Photos Below!

The first thing you need when Butchering chickens is a SHARP knife. A dull knife makes it hard on you and even worse for the bird. A killing cone really helps. Ive also seen it done with a noose to hang the feet.  In the following photos you will see one person held the feet. You can also use zipties from what I was told or tie the feet. This is so the chicken cant get his feet down and get a grip to pull his head back after the throat has been cut to bleed out(Which could result in the throat closing off and the chicken suffering instead of going swiftly and quietly.

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You pull the head down through the killing cone and move the feathers until you see a blue line(Vein).To cut the throat you need to slice on an angle on the side of the neck and not be hesitant about it or you will not cut deep enough. If it doesn’t bleed enough you can make a second cut on the other side of the neck.  Also an extra step that we did was to hold the head back to help in the bleeding out. Its messier but it really ensures that the bird goes fast and doesn’t risk getting his head back up and stopping the flow.

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I know it seems a bit disturbing to some but most natural chicken keepers will give organ meat and blood and feathers right back to their chickens. This is proof right here. These red sex-links were like vultures around the bleeding station trying to get every drop of blood. Chickens are NOT vegetarians. Their Omnivores and if you want that nice orange tasty yolk they need their protein.

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Once the chickens are finally dead we cut their heads off then scalded them in a pot of water between 140-150F Three swirls in the pot

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Then they got a dunk in cold water to cool down fast and stop any cooking that might happen. At this point you check to see if your feathers are easily coming off. If they do On to the plucking!

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A plucker is a godsend! If not you are spending a LOT of time on each bird plucking them.

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Once their fully plucked they go into ice water while waiting to be gutted.

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First thing to do is cut the feet off(And throw some to any dogs waiting below)

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Sadly none of the photos of the gutting came out as it was too dark. When I process my own excess roosters I will post a few photos of that part. But once their gutted you put them back on ice water until your done all the carcasses. Then in the refrigerator they go for 48 hours. Once the 48 hours are up you can eat them, freeze them or chop them up into breasts, drumsticks, thighs etc to make your delicious chicken last longer. I hope you enjoyed the photos and knowledge I learnt over the weekend. We were lucky and got to bring home two chickens that I butchered myself as well as all the hearts and gizzards for stew. And the chicken was Delicious.

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2 thoughts on “Warning Graphic Photos!: My weekend Learning to process Chickens

  1. Ugh… Butchering is my least-favourite part of keeping chooks. Actually, I don’t do it anymore – I make Dad do it. He’s a bit set in his ways and I object to those ways (it involves a chopping block and an axe. It is not quick. It is not painless. It is quite frankly, disturbing to watch. And if he does it in view of the other chooks, they’re suddenly VERY difficult to catch. But he learnt by watching on a farm in rural Brittany when he was twelve, so he *must* be right…). If I had a cone and a sharp knife, I’d be fine to do it myself. I can even deal without a plucker-machine. Now you know what’s on my Christmas wish list!

    Just out of curiosity… how did the actual butchering go? Gutting and such? I have trouble with that because I’m always afraid of breaking an intestine or the liver.

    Interestingly, modern homesteaders re-learning these skills today often assume it’s the man’s job to butcher chooks. However, the reason my father never learnt at home was because it’s the woman’s job – my grandmother wouldn’t let him, although she taught my aunt and probably would have taught my sister and I if she’d lived long enough.

    • Once my friends taught me how to gut it went super fast and simply you just need to know where to cut and such. Our mottled houdan hen was killed yesterday(Hubby found her just as she was dying) So I took her and butchered her in record time thanks to my friends who taught me. In our household there is no such thing as a “man” or “Womans” job ;). Hubbys profession is a cook and he cleans even more than I do lol. and I tend to be handier mending and fixing things. Yes I love to bake and sew. We just share tasks mainly and are pretty equal on different tasks.

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