Monday, November 2, 2009

Harvesting Chickens....some things will surprise you!

Butchering day...turned out to be incredibly fun!  We had several friends show up to learn.  One family brought some of their own chickens so that we could teach them what to do.  One young lady came because she wanted to learn to butcher but also because she felt she needed to be willing to harvest the chickens if she was going to eat them.

Friends to help!

We started out by watching this video...and we learned a few things that we thought might make things go much quicker.  Thanks Allen!

We set everything up that morning, Joshua sharpened all the knives we planned on using and we began about 1:30 in the afternoon.  We had placed our chickens on cement 24 hours before and removed all food sources.  The purpose of this is to empty their crops which makes butchering much less messy.  If they are on grass, they will still scratch and eat.  We did provide water.

The..ahem...waiting room!

Next step....the killing cone.  This was a bit different this time.  We butchered our friends birds first...then some of our older roosters.  These will make wonderful chicken soup.  Next it was time to do our meat birds.  We had never done meat birds before and we weren't prepared for how BIG these birds were.  Josh and Leah manned the killing cone.  This is a cone shaped piece of metal (picture a traffic cone turned upside down) that holds the bird upside down.  The head and neck come out of a hole in the bottom.  One quick cut to the jugular vein in the neck and the bird dies a calm and painless death.

The cone prevents bruising of the meat (from flopping around) and also allows the heart to continue to beat and pump the blood out of the chicken.  This does not happen if you just chop off their heads. We placed a bucket of sand under the cone to catch the blood.  This is wonderful to add to the compost bin or garden. It is also much neater to use the cone - blood stays in the bucket rather than going everywhere.

On the first meat bird, because of the difference in size, we had a hard time locating the juglar vein.  But once Josh saw where it was, the rest of the birds were "easy".

Jeremy manned the scalding tank...three slow dips while "swishing" the bird.  This loosens the feathers for the plucker!

3 dips and you're done!Dunking..

Nothing smells worse than wet chickens!

Elijah and a friend manned the plucker..with occasional help from Josiah!

Team work!This is how it's done!

I took off the heads and feet, and did the final clean up and bagging of the birds.

And Josiah did the eviscerating.  He's good and he's fast...really fast since watching Allen's video!  It was hard for him to get his hand into the smaller birds but the meat birds were easy! easy as eviscerating can be.  He also took the time to teach his younger brother and a friend.  Josiah is a patient teacher.

Josiah's station!

There was plenty of fellowship and fun!

Good friends!

and then....the most amazing thing happened.  In all the years we have been butchering, I don't recall this happening before.  It certainly took us all by surprise.....take a look....

We laughed So hard....and for SO long.....whew!

We ended up processing 27 birds that day and we were done by 6:00 that evening!  A record for us.  Each year we get a little faster.  We will definitely raise meat birds next year.  These birds are HUGE!  We are very grateful to these people who butchered all of their birds that they needed and passed the extra ones to our family.  Love ya'll...we'll have many wonderful meals from these giant birds!

We placed the birds in our kitchen fridge, our laundry room fridge and my Mom's fridge for a couple of days to "age".  It works sort of like hanging beef for a couple of weeks.  Enzymes are released that help tenderize the meat and make it deliciously wonderful!  They are now all safely tucked into our freezer waiting for our first meal....chicken with stuffing, some of our own mashed potatoes, gravy and home made yeast rolls....yummy!

I'll leave you with this thought on matter how long you have been doing it...or perhaps it's your first time...just be prepared...anything can happen when you least expect it...don't freak out.....go with the flow!

On the serious side, we are so thankful to our Father for His provision, for our friends generosity, for the helping hands and for the fun and fellowship we experienced that day. Although we worked hard all day, we had so much fun doing this job.  What an awesome God we serve!



  1. We have had our birds sing to us as well. Glad the day went well and you had fun!!!

  2. We harvested chickens today as well! This was our first time, and we did everything manually--Now we have 6 chickens all ready to eat!


  3. We've done a lot of chicken butchering, but this is the first time I've heard about the refrigerating of chickens before freezing them. I think I'll try it next time and see if I can tell the difference. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Better you than me, my friend!!! Apparently your Joshua is better at the whole chicken thing than my Joshua!!! Let me know how you like the meat.
    grace and peace,

  5. I've been waiting for this post! Would like to say sorry I missed the fun - - but it's not true. We raised chickens 3 or 4 times. Only piece of advice I can pass - make killing cones from 1 gal milk jugs. Cut the whole bottom off and enlarge the pouring neck. Attach a coat hanger to opposite sides of the bottom. We cut the whole head off then hung them up to drain. Cheap cones. Someday I will tell you about Stan taking the chicken "guts" to the dumpster and why it took him so long!
    How big are these birds? They look huge.
    I also did not know about refrigerating the birds - but it makes sense.
    Happy eating!! Maybe you should do a few turkeys next year!!
    Love you guys - -


Related Posts with Thumbnails