Friday, October 14, 2011

Butchering Chickens

I butchered six chickens yesterday.  I still have 13 more to do.  I didn't take pictures because I didn't want to get nastiness on my camera!

I've butchered chickens before, but it's been awhile and here are some of the things I noticed.  Warning:  You may find some of it to be gory.

#1  Chickens STINK.  It doesn't matter how fluffy and white the feathers look, when you put them in a pot of hot water it's going to smell awful when you pull them out AND you can see the nasty bits of stuff stuck in their feathers.  

#2  It takes forever for a pot of hot water to get hot to about 170-degrees.  I use our propane turkey fryer outside to boil the water.  Why don't I do it inside?  See # 1  (smile).

#3  Be prepared to jump back when you cut the chickens throat.  They will flap their wings and spray blood everywhere.  I hang my chickens by the feet and it's supposed to lull them.  I don't have a killing cone, so they flap.  It's pretty gruesome.  

#4 It might freak you out when their toes move when you cut the tendons to remove the feet.  It's just the tendon releasing.  

#5  Having the chickens go without food for at least a day makes the process much cleaner.  It's nice to have an empty crop instead of a crop full of seeds.  I don't even need to mention the back end... much nicer.  

#6  Do not have a bag of grass seed within two feet of where you have the chickens caged.  They will get to it, rip a hole in it, and start eating it.  

#7 The videos and books make it look easier than it is.  There's membranes that hold everything inside the chicken in place that you'll have to cut or pull apart.  The membranes are not that strong and they're easy to pull apart, but they are there.    

#8  The guts come out fairly easily, but the lungs are a little harder to get out.  You have to kind of get your finger up under them and then they'll come out in one piece.  

#9 I see a Whiz Bang Chicken Plucker in my future.  


#10 Butchering chickens is not that difficult.  Once you work your way through the internal workings of the first chicken the process becomes easier and easier with each chicken you do.  

On butchering:  It's messy, it's time consuming, but it's a good feeling to provide good, wholesome food for your family.  I know that my chickens lived the type of very, very good life that a chicken should live.

In an interview with Joel Salatin, chemical-free farming pioneer,
by Gaby Wood, in "The Observer":

 I ask him if I were from Mars how he would explain why I should eat his meat. Salatin offers five reasons.
"The first thing is," he says, "it's safer from a bio-security standpoint. If you eat our stuff, it's gonna be only sold real close right here. There's a short chain between field and fork, and the shorter that chain is – the fresher, the more transparent that system is – the less chance there is of anything from bio-terrorism to pathogenicity to spoilage. You wanna get diarrhoea? Eat industrial food.
"Number two is what I would call your own personal immune system." The more antibiotics are given to the animals we eat, he explains, the less responsive we become to antibiotics when we need them for medical reasons. "You've been drugging yourself at dinner every day."
Thirdly, he goes on, they've had their meats checked, and they are unequalled in their nutritional density and power, however you want to measure it – "Omega 3, omega 6 ratios, riboflavin, polyunsaturated fats, vitamin A…"
Four: it tastes better.
"And the fifth reason," he concludes, "is: it's better for the environment. It's a very landscape-therapeutic production model."


  1. Yikes!!! I think I will let someone else do the work if we do meat birds again. You are brave.

  2. Sharon great post I know some stuff we homesteaders do is not necessarily pretty stuff but it is better for the environment and for us!