Monday, July 12, 2010

Chicken Butchering

My friend Tess raised some meat birds this spring. We butchered them a couple weeks ago. She had three hens and a rooster. They were only a few months old and were already huge. They were so big that they didn't move much and when they did they waddled. The rooster was terrifyingly big. I was scared of him. I was happy that Tess was the one to grab him from the cage. It was a fine trade off for me to be the executioner.

Neither of us had killed or butchered chickens before so I did some research online. Two sources were particularly helpful. WARNING: Both these links show graphic bloody chicken death in picture or video form. The first had very detailed pictures of the whole process from killing to cutting the meat into pieces. We decided that we wanted to skin the chickens instead of plucking because we thought it would save time and energy. We were right. To get information on skinning I found a video on I assumed that the people in this video were interested in efficiency more than using the whole bird because they discarded some parts that were worth keeping such as the organs and neck.

Most of the sources I found showed people using a metal cone to secure the chicken upside down so its neck could be cut and it could bleed out without flapping its wings about. I wasn't able to find one or build one of my own. Instead I held both legs in one hand as Tess held the head and a wing. With my free hand I slit the artery under the jaw. Inevitably the birds flapped about a bit as the blood drained out. After we were sure they expired, we hung them up to finish bleeding.

We each butchered two chickens. Tess gave me the rooster. Fully cleaned and gutted he weighed in a 11 1/2 lbs! Almost as big as a turkey. You can see in the picture below how big his body was.

Tess began the skinning process the same as with any animal.

In this picture both of us cleaned our second bird.

The rooster fully skinned and gutted. Keeping the neck on made it easy to carry and rinse off with the hose.

Killing something is never easy to do emotionally and I was nervous about it. It was especially challenging to kill at close range and hold the animal as it died. Now that I know I can handle it, I plan to raise some meat birds next spring. I really like the idea of eating meat that I am responsible for from egg to oven. I'll probably buy baby chicks, but "egg to oven" sounds better.

So far I shared one delicious baked chicken breast with a friend. My roommate and I grilled up two legs and I made some stock from the carcass including the neck, hearts and livers. Its probably not the best season for chicken stew but I'm going to give it a try anyway.


fooiemcgoo said...

i clicked on that first link. that guy did a tremendous job of documenting a chicken butchering. what a great resource.

this is pretty cool. if i had the time and resources, i might do it. i'd rather eat the meat then the eggs....

Abo said...

Nice blog. Thats one chicken well taken care of.

have a look at mine if you have time

cheers Abo

Sassmouth said...

Thanks, Abo. I checked out your blog. Looks like you have some beautiful landscape over there.