Processing Meat Birds: DIY

Today we decided to do our first trial run slaughtering and processing meat birds.  Our intent is to do take all 25 from our pasture to our freezer ourselves, but as first-timers we thought we’d start modestly, with just two.

WARNING!  WARNING!  WARNING!  The following contains graphic images of chickens being killed, plucked, and cut up.  If that bothers you, look at cute pictures of goats instead.  

We picked two this morning, on the basis of who was easiest to grab when we let them out for the day.  An empty digestive system is preferred, so when everybody else got to go out to graze for the day, these two went to hang out in a shaded crate with some water.  They weren’t too bothered.

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We set up the killing cone in a cool spot in the woods.  Here’s Josh, moments before the first bird was killed.

chicken cone-1

The next step is to scald the birds in hot water for a little bit.  This loosens the feathers so they’re easier to pluck.  Because we were just doing the two, we used a big stock pot of water on the kitchen stove;  in general this step will happen outside.

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Then it was back outside for plucking.  We bought the Power Plucker drill attachment, which worked pretty well (though steadying the drill is a bit tricky):

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Then back to the house for evisceration.  Again, when we’re doing this for larger numbers of birds, this part will happen outside.  I should mention that the kids were willingly going along (though Ben preferred to look away while the actual killing took place).chicken harvest 1 june 30-6

Molly was very interested, and was willing to help in whatever way we’d let her:chicken harvest 1 june 30-7


So was Nora.  She helped Dad throughout, and was very interested to learn about the different parts of the bird.  Being a six-year-old, she found the removal of the digestive system hilarious.  She also talked Josh into cutting one of their skulls open so we could see a chicken brain.chicken harvest 1 june 30-9

Finally, we’re all done and ready for the freezer:

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