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Stoopid Chicken Processing ???

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  • Stoopid Chicken Processing ???

    For the life of me, I cannot get a search function to answer the question I am asking.

    I have 3 roos who need to go. All of the instructions on killing and processing talk about scalding before plucking. Is this a requirement or a recommendation?

    Also, is there a difference in the results if you decapitate vs. cutting arteries? Being new to this, I can't believe that I would be able to quickly and efficiently cut only the arteries. I think one swift blow would be kindest in my case.

    Any other tips are greatly appreciated.
    "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams

  • #2
    Go to the backyard chicken forum on meat birds processing. Very helpful group. I cant fill and gut one to save me if it is cold dead from the grocery store it seems I can chop it up.



    • #3
      We process ~100 birds per year. My husband uses a knife to take the head completely off (he puts them in a cone first) but my family always used a hatchet and a block. Neither method leaves the head on and it's worked well for the 1000s of birds I've helped with in the past 25 years.

      If you want to pluck the bird you will need to "scald it" - essentially dip it in 160 degree F water until the feathers loosen. I usually start with 10 seconds and adjust as needed - you're looking to loosen things enough that the breast feathers come off very easily and you can pull the wing/tail feathers. If you don't scald long enough picking feathers is a PITA. If you scald too long the skin will tear. Of course, you could always just skin them and not worry about it.

      Before we had our full set-up I processed a few roosters using my enamelware canning pot on a camp stove (instant thermometer to check temp). It's a tight fit, but it worked. I just bleached the pot really well once I was done.

      I've got a photos series up here that shows the gutting process.


      • Original Poster

        UrbanHennery - That was extremely helpful, thank you.
        The pictures are wonderful reference!
        I have a big canning pot and a camp stove. It doesn't seem so intimidating when I know I have the stuff
        "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams


        • #5
          We had a block with two nails to hold the head and stretch the neck for the, well hatchet job. For scalding, a washtub with an immersion heater; dry plucking can also tear skin and dry plucking was saved for geese and ducks. My biggest problem was always gutting the damned birds because I have wide hands and always managed to cut myself on ribs. Save the heart, liver and gizzard to make gravy but the gizzard requires careful knifework to remove the sack in the centre - cut through the muscle carefully until you can see the sack inside then carefully remove. If you cut through the sack, discard the gizzard as it will be contaminated.
          Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

          Member: Incredible Invisbles


          • #6
            If you pick the feathers immediately after death, while the body is still warm, there's no need to scald.. The feathers come out pretty easily. If the body has cooled a bit then you'll tear the skin.
            I can pick two roosters in a short amount of time. Your granny did it


            • #7
              If you do scald, make sure you're standing upwind. Steam saturated with eau de wet chicken feathers is one of the more unpleasant memories of my childhood. We also singed our birds after plucking to remove the scattered 'hairs' that didn't pluck out with the feathers.

              That's funny about the gizzard. My dad always cut it open like a clam, turned it inside out to remove the ground-up food, and then peeled off the inner membrane that makes up the sack. He didn't let the gook touch the meat, of course, but it seemed like a pretty easy way to do it. I had the smallest hands, so I was always busy pulling all the innards out.


              • #8
                Originally posted by leaf View Post
                If you pick the feathers immediately after death, while the body is still warm, there's no need to scald.. The feathers come out pretty easily. If the body has cooled a bit then you'll tear the skin.
                I can pick two roosters in a short amount of time. Your granny did it
                We tried this but it did not work. The book we read suggested it also had to do with nerves/muscles that either "hold" the feathers or die "relaxed" and feathers come out easily. It suggested piercing the brain either before or immediately after cutting jugular arteries to ensure that the muscles did not tighten and hold the feathers.

                Anyhow, probably did a bad job explaining but it didn't work. We tried with 5 roosters - cut arteries using a killing cone, pierced the brain with a knife, etc. Maybe we missed the brain, it's not very big! I understand the need if you want to save feathers for some reason, but we were amazed at how much easier it was to pluck after "scalding" them. And I put quotes around the word scald, because the water does not have to be very hot (in fact, we could do it with our bare hands) and only a few seconds made a world of difference.

                I helped a friend process some roosters a few months ago and we were all novices. It wasn't hard. They crated the roosters together at bed time so they were pretty sleepy and it was quick and painless for them. We were terribly slow in the butchering process but otherwise it wasn't difficult.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by UrbanHennery View Post

                  I've got a photos series up here that shows the gutting process.
                  thank you for these fantastic pictures! very informative. I have never processed a bird but I have 32 layers and someday will probably have to do some culling. Your pics showd me it's not that scary.

                  i am following your flickr now


                  • #10
                    ArabDiva - glad it was useful. The bird I demo'd with was actually a scrawny old layer. The broilers are easier as their body cavities are bigger. It's certainly not scary to do - but I remember doing my first grown up batch, 1800 miles from home, with friends that had never done it before. Hard to be the expert when you'd never led the charge before. Every bird you do it gets easier.

                    Of course, if you're lucky your grandfather leaves you his antique plucker when he dies. Speeds up the plucking process immensely.



                    • #11
                      This lady is the "pink sweater" angel of death for chickens, she goes through the whole process.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_S3P0eU0lE part one
                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ExGRrwlhldA part two


                      • #12
                        My experience with old roosters:

                        Take your favorite chicken soup recipe.
                        Substitute a generous handful of rubberbands for the chicken.
                        Viola! Try to enjoy.


                        • Original Poster

                          Thankfully, these are young roosters.
                          Thank you all of the information. I think we will definitely scald. Today is the day...wish us luck.
                          "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams


                          • Original Poster

                            Three roosters, 16 weeks old, dressed out at ~3# each.
                            It was not nearly as hard or messy as I'd thought. We tried the hatchet the first time, then discovered that decapitation with a hunting knife worked best for us.
                            "In the beginning, the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has widely been considered as a bad move." -Douglas Adams


                            • #15
                              UrbanHennery that plucker is great, thinking never eat chicken again LOL