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Sunday, August 3, 2008

How to Butcher and Process Meat Bird Chickens (WARNING - GRAPHIC)

I'm going to at least get a start on this tonight....we took a LOT of pictures...some background info....These meat birds are Cornish Giants and we raised them till they were 8 weeks old (one day short, to be exact, when we started butchering).
The Gman lit a fire in the woodstove down at the barn.....and we put a canner full of hot water on there to boil....we want 160 degrees minimum (not Much Hotter tho!).








We used a cleaver, and put the chickens on a wide stump...wide was important to us, because if the stump or block of wood isn't wide enuf, they can fall off later.







We took the birds one by one....and I held their legs while the Gman had hold lightly of their wings, holding them close to their body.

Laying the bird on the log and with me in the back holding the legs together and the Gman holding the top wing down with one hand.....in the other hand is the cleaver and when we lay the bird down, its natural inclination is to put it's head down.....and down went the cleaver.





It's important to hold onto the bird - maybe for one minute. We messed up last year and didn't hold down on the wings and the result was the birds broke many of the wings. It's a natural bodily reflex to twitch and shudder, and it does have to happen, but what we want to do is minimize any damage, like broken wings or legs....and we did only have one broken wing in the birds we processed.

OK, after that stops, the bird can be hung to bleed out for several minutes.... you can see we did 5 birds at a time. Don't be too quick in taking them down...but too slow will result in some rigor setting in....we did 5 becuz we figured we could get them done in time, and we did.






Take each bird and dunk it totally (feet out ONLY) for 30 seconds at 160 degrees....25 seconds at 170 degrees.....swish it around a bit if you can.....




And as Soon as you get the bird out of the water, start plucking....and just don't stop....it is sooo much easier to do it when the bird is still warm from the water.....






Everybody has their own techique....I tended to start with the outside leg feathers, then quickly moved up to the inside upper portion, then left to the breast. And worked my way to the left side of the breast, then back down over the other leg, up the back....you see what I mean? There must be lots of different variations...
Working my way up the back and over the wing feathers.....


I did notice that I really slow down when it comes to wing feathers...so I tried to make sure I stripped those feathers before the bird cooled down very much.




It seemed to help to pull the feathers upwards and away from the body....
here I've done one leg and right breast and working over the left side....
Working on pulling those blasted pinfeathers out....
Here's the finished (so far) result....ready to go into the house for the final processing.
Next year we will revamp the butchering process, but this year is already a great improvement over the way we did it last year.....
The next post will be about the gutting, final cleaning, weighing, etc....
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10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hiya Annie...can you dunk the partially-plucked birds back in the hot water if they cool off too much before you've finished?? Thanks! Patty

Annie said...

Hi Patty, yes we did that....maybe for 10 seconds, it helped to rinse the birds and losoen the remaing feathers.

Annie

CeeCee said...

I wandered over here from Seasons Eatings.
Hooray for you!! Thank you so much for posting pictures and telling what works and what doesn't.

I grew up hunting, and we just skinned the birds we shot. I will be raising meat birds this fall for the first time (I have laying hens). I want to keep the skin on, otherwise I envision freezer burn and dry meat.

Thanks especially for the tip about not doing too many at one time and having rigor set in. Very good tip that I hadn't seen before.

JJJ said...

Great pictures, helpful for us first-timers! Thanks.

Annie said...

Thanks! Ceecee and JJJ, do you have blogs we can go take a look at?

I am So glad that big job is over with....

Annie

miss lyn said...

Hey, Annie. I live in Bastrop, Texas and we've humped over many of the same learning curves you've humped as newbies (http://txfarm.blogspot.com). We made a Whiz-Bang chicken plucker (a barrel, a round cutting-board-like plate, a motor with a switch and rubber chicken fingers) that plucks the birds in 20 seconds. And our killing method used to be the axe, but the chickens saw it coming (and stiffened). What I do now is catch the bird and immediately pull it to separate its head from its body and put it on the ground to thrash around (open ground, no broken wings). But I still have my axe out, just in case. We hang the birds with wire from t-posts that are also supported by t-posts and let them bleed into hay (in a wheelbarrow) or into buckets to collect the blood for the compost pile. Hang in there and good luck with all you do in this wonderful, hard life.

Annie said...

Hi Miss Lyn, thanks for your comment and leaving your blog address, we will check it out!

We've heard of the WhizBang, and you know, the Gman fully intended to get one built for this year, but you know how time gets away from ya? Yeah, here tooo! Maybe this winter, that project will get done!

Annie

Linda said...

Oh gee, here I thought I had found something new for you!

Anyways Here is the link again! Hehe

http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/2006/09/whizbang-plucker-story.html

Robin said...

Hi Annie, This will be our first time ever to butcher our own chickens what is the best way to do the cooling process, I thought you could just freeze them after you butcher them. Great information and thank you for all your posting.

Annie said...

Hi Robin, no you don't want to immediately put them into the freezer.

Best to let them sit in the fridge for 24 hours. Or, what we do is put ice blocks in coolers and fill up the coolers with the chickens.

After 24 hours, then you can freeze them. If you freeze them immediately, you will find they taste tougher....hope this helps