Author Topic: First time butchering a chicken...  (Read 1097 times)

Michelle Ogden

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First time butchering a chicken...
« on: October 01, 2015, 12:06:52 PM »
Okay folks, I took the plunge and butchered a chicken this morning (while all my kids were at school). I butchered the one that had split wing, then I thought it was growing out of it, then it turned out to be a cockerel, then it turned out to still have split wing on one side.... So yeah, he's gone now.
I decided to do a method I saw on youtube where they skinned the whole bird instead of plucking it. Here are my thoughts:
What I did wrong:
- I didn't make sure my knife was sharpened before cutting the jugular, so it took way more cuts than it should have :(
- I didn't have sharp enough scissors to cut through the wing bones as they showed in the video
What I feel I did right:
- I took it far out into the woods so it wouldn't invite predators to my property
- I brought a card table with me, which proved to be helpful
- I strung it upside down from a tree, which helped drain it and also made it easier to do a few of the steps of de-skinning
- I gave up on cutting down the backbone (as shown in the video) and instead simply sliced off the leg quarters and the breast meat, this made it so that I didn't have to deal with the internal organs at all

I would love to hear thoughts or tips on my process. I was also curious- my cockerel was 4-5 months old and yet I only got 1.5 lbs of meat (leg quarters and breasts), is this common? Or should I have let him grow a little bigger? I've read that the meat is tougher if you wait too long, is that true?

Mike Gilbert

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Re: First time butchering a chicken...
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2015, 12:53:45 PM »
Yes, the older a chicken gets the tougher it will get.   I suggest aging the parts for a few days in your refrigerator, and that will help tenderness.
I also skin mine when I butcher.   The neck and body make great chicken soup!   I sometimes save the liver and fry it up for breakfast or a snack.   I used to do the gizzard also, but no longer feel it is worth the trouble to skin it out. 
Mike Gilbert
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John W Blehm

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Re: First time butchering a chicken...
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2015, 02:02:02 PM »
YouTube is a great way to get ideas.  Having not only the right tools for a job makes it easier, but having them sharp is a big help. ;) 
My bother does his own meat birds, but he has everything needed including an electric plucker.  I tried meat birds a couple years ago and took them to a processor, but they didn't do as good a job as we would have.  The last time I butchered (several years ago) I just filleted the breasts from the bantams. 
We don't eat much meat at home anymore and I'm not fond of butchering, so I just make calls to folks I know that are waiting for birds to butcher. 
I feel they need to be 5 to 6 months old to be filled out enough to butcher, but my customers will take them younger and are happy to get them.  I sold 25 LF cockerels a month or so ago for $10 each and gave them 2 for free.  I generally don't charge that much for cull/butcher birds, but I had a lot of feed into these guys and supply and demand said they were worth it.

Michelle Ogden

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Re: First time butchering a chicken...
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2015, 08:41:32 PM »
Thanks!
I don't plan on making butchering a big part of my life, but I wanted a way to get rid of imperfect stock without it tainting the breeding pool in someone else's hands. Even if I sold a bird for meat, what's to stop the person from saying "you know, I might just like having a lavender cockerel for my flock!" and not actually killing it when they got it home?
So, I don't plan on doing it often, just when needed... :)

Sue

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Re: First time butchering a chicken...
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2016, 05:54:07 PM »
Bob Rennolet gave me the best tip for older birds ever...after you kill and clean them...put them in a pressure cooker.  They come out divine.

Myrna Hall

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butchering helps
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2017, 02:49:28 PM »
Hello, my name is Myrna Hall,

I have been breeding ameraucana's since 2013.

I have butchered several birds.  At times I just leg and breast them out without the skin and other times I use the whole bird.

I cull them by pulling their heads with a broom stick.  This seems to work very well without pain or suffering.
 
When using the whole bird:

I lay the bird on its back on the table I'm using and use spring clamps to clamp the wings down to the edge of the table.
I have had great success in just pulling the feathers off without any process.  You can wet the bird if you want to keep the feathers from blowing around but they pluck off real easy.  Just pull off small patches at a time.  I start on the legs and work my way up the bird.  I do not use the wings, too hard to pluck, I cut them off after I have plucked and gutted the bird.

I use a sharp knife and pruning shears to cut through the bones.  This works great!

Leg and breast only:
Remove skin and guts then break the thigh joint from the body and either cut the thigh and leg off as one unit or use your pruning shears if you have to cut thru any bone.

Then just cut off the breast and your done.  Throw the rest the bird away.  Takes very little time.

Great way to cook:
Crock pot, pressure cooker, or bake.  It will soften any meat no matter what the age.

I hope this  gives you some help.

Yours truly,
Myrna Hall at The Chickinn

Tailfeathers

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Re: First time butchering a chicken...
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2017, 08:04:00 AM »
The first year I butchered a few birds I tried the knife thru the roof of the mouth into the brain.  After almost sticking a knife thru the palm of my hand I decided against that.  I've also tried slicing their neck.  But after all that I finally went back to the old tried and true.  Probably similar "broomstick" method Myrna mentioned.  I hold the bird upside down until it calms down and goes limp.  Then holding the bird by the feet, I lay the head on the ground and in one quick move I put the outer ball of my foot behind the neck and pull up.  Unless you wnat the skin on the neck you can just pull the head right off.  Thus the old saw "running around like a chicken with its head off".

Whether I skin or pluck depends a lot on how many I'm doing, whether I'm by myself or have help, how much time I have, how much chicken broth/stock I have on hand, and especially the condition of the bird.  If it's full of pin feathers I definitely skin.  One thing I will mention is that if you're plucking it really works best if you have one of those outside propane stoves where you can keep a big pot of water on at 150 degrees.  The feathers literally come sliding off.  I prefer to do about 10-20 birds at time.

Since I never cook a bird whole (unless it's a guinea or peahen) whether I skin or pluck I do the same thing to butcher.  Have two 5gal buckets.  One for innards and the other with some ice water.  The first thing I do is remove the neck and the crop.  Neck in the ice water and crop in the innards bucket.  Then I remove whole tail and the vent area.  That creates a nice little opening for the innards to come thru.  Then I take the legs and thighs off in one piece from the back making sure to keep the oyster with the thighs.  Then I slice the skin on the abdomen along the fat lines below the ribs and then thru the center to open up the gut cavity.  Hold it over the 5gal bucket and they'll drop right in.  I don't eat gizzards or liver so they go to somebody that wants them or the catfish in the pond.  Same with the heart later on.  Then I remove the back from the breast, pull the lungs out, and that's it.

From there I take it in the house, clean all the pieces up good, separate the legs from the thighs, split the breasts, and the vacuum pack it all.  You can pack them by bird or by parts.  Personally, I like to package them by parts.  8-10 legs in a pack.  Same with thighs.  Maybe more with wings.  1-2 breasts per pack.  Backs and necks go together for broth and stock.     

One last note, I rarely cook since it's just me so normally I'll use the crockpot, stack the piece in, cover it with water, and let it cook overnight.  If I'm making chicken noodle (or rice) soup I'll use legs, thigh, and wings.  If I'm wanting meat for fajitas or enchiladas or something like that I'll use breasts.  I just cook it until the meat literally falls off the bones.

I know I've butchered roosters that were more than 2yrs old and cooking it in the crockpot until the meat falls off the bones is about as tender as you're gonna get.  I recently read about "bone broth" and think I'll give that a try.  I also read somewhere that chicken feet make for some good broth so I may try adding them next time.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 08:06:06 AM by Tailfeathers »
God Bless,

R. E. Van Blaricome
Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God, and all His Righteousness
- then these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Russ Blair

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Re: First time butchering a chicken...
« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2017, 02:19:33 PM »
Royce my wife makes a lot of bone broth. We raise meat chickens every year as well. She was given a rotisserie from her grandma so after cooking whole birds she always saves the bones. She simply puts them in a crock pot full of water, adds some various seasoning like bay leaves, celery or onions. Let's it cook roughly 24 hours then strains all the liquid off. After that she adds the hot broth to quart canning jars to use later for various soups, it's way better than the store bought broth with less sodium as well.
S.E. Michigan

Tailfeathers

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Re: First time butchering a chicken...
« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2017, 02:43:32 AM »
Russ, I do sort of the same thing.  I put my chickens in crockpot and cook 'em until the meat pretty much falls off the bones and I can easily pick it right off.  Then I save the broth/stock from that.  Gonna give the bone broth a try the next time.  Here's the article I read on it:   https://wellnessmama.com/5888/bone-broth/
God Bless,

R. E. Van Blaricome
Seek Ye first the Kingdom of God, and all His Righteousness
- then these things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)