I am going to jot a quick note to get some information out to y’all. Many people have asked how I process my meat birds without killing cones, axes or hot pots of water: all very distasteful things to many.
My secret is that I not gut or pluck my chickens. What?! The reality is, I do not need the skin. I don’t eat it. I don’t need whole birds. They take up so much room in the freezer. If you are like me, then this is the perfect technique for you!
I do not cut their throats nor do I use an ax. In fact I don’t even look! I use the broomstick method many European women use.
So let’s begin! Get your tools together. You will need:
- Table and if you want to sit, a chair or stool. I stand.
- Sharp scalpel sized knife
- Sharp, clean garden shears. Something you can clip small branches off with.
- Butcher knife
- Surgical style gloves
- Dish pan with rinse water for the chicken pieces.
- 5 gallon bucket lined with bags for refuse. I use dog food or feed bags because they are so sturdy and plastic.
- A few dog food or feed bags cut open, flat, for table top liner.
- Duct tape
- Cooler with ice big enough for all the birds. You may have to use several.
- Shovel; put it over by the bleeding area.
- A shady place to hang the birds to bleed. I use a clothes line between two trees. Make sure a hose can reach this area. You’ll be rinsing the blood down, later.
- Slip knot foot hangers from twine. I use my hay bale twine. Attach to the line where they will hang.
Please note! Withdraw feed the night before but never keep them from water. Keep chickens in a clean place because dirty feet make dirty work spaces. I know it is hard. At this age, they poop like crazy but you do the best you can.
1. Line the table top with your plastic feed bags and tape. You will be rinsing them down from time to time. Line your buckets with the bags and make them ready for the refuse. Set up your work table in a way that works for you having your tools within reach.
2.Create your slip knot hangers and tie to the clothes line. You will be slipping a foot in there to bleed out chicken.
3. Now for the hard part; the killing. Take the chicken and swing her by the feet to lull her. Her neck will dangle. Lay the bird down, and put the shovel over the neck. Place a foot on each side of the shovel, and stand with a bit of a squat over the shovel, weighing it down on the neck. Look away and give it a quick, hard snatch. Be aggressive about this, you only want to do it once! There is a good chance the head is detached and on the ground. Perfect! The neck muscles are only weeks old and not strong at all. It will flap and make a fuss. That’s normal. It is dead.
4. Go hang the bird on the slip knot. If head is still attached, quickly cut it off with a butcher knife so it can bleed. Repeat, up to about 5 birds. Sometimes less. It depends on how fast they stop bleeding and how warm it is outside.
5. At this point, stop to process what is hanging on the line, if the first butchered has stopped bleeding. Process the birds in order of hanging and begin the process of making them in shape for dinner.
Lay the bird down on it back and as you process each part, dip in the rinse water and then into the ice cooler.
6. Cut off the feet. Do this above the “knee.” Toss or if you keep them, put them in a separate bucket. They are super dirty and will have to be thoroughly washed. You’ve seen store chicken. You know what all these pieces should look like.
7. Cut off neck. Get close to breast bone and rib bones and cut neck off with the garden clipper.
8. If there is a windpipe or something around neck area, remove and toss.
9. With scalpel, cut the skin down the middle of the breast bone not cutting the flesh. Get your hands down under the skin and peel the skin and feathers from the carcass. It comes off fairly easily. Toss in garbage bucket.
10. Cut off the legs and wings. If you weren’t able to peel the wings very well, you can either toss the meatless wonders or try to peel them a bit cleaner.
11. Cut off the breasts. Using the scalpel, carefully get as close to the rib as you can and cut away the breast, pulling it aways from he bones to show the meat section.
12. Cut off the thighs. Same as above.
You now have a bony carcass with guts in them. Toss that thing into your trash can. You are now done with our first chicken.
I keep processing while my husband keeps killing, not keeping too many on the line at a time. You really don’t want them to get too warm.
13. When your chicken is all rinsed and in the meat cooler, drain the water that may have collected, add more ice and leave it fully iced in a cool place for 48 hours. It really helps it taste better and be more tender.
14. After the 48 hours, rinse them again in cold water, put pieces into gallon zip loc bags or use your vaccum sealer. Separate as you wish. Freeze.
You are done! This really is the least traumatic way, for man and fowl, to process birds. You never miss an ax whack, you don’t have to look at your birds as you kill them and you will never smell that awful scent of boiling feathers. You will get faster as you learn to fillet the meat. If you want to pluck and gut for some reason, there are many tutorials out there so I won’t go into that.
Happy Homesteading! Scarlett