Need chicken butchering advice ASAP! : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

I'm sorry to be a dolt, but I've tried scouring archives & I've tried doing the Ctrl F thing to find info on cleaning a chicken. I must be an idiot b/c I get zero results no matter which method I use. . . pointers?

Okay, here's the schpeel. Found a headless chicken this morning when I went out to do chores & wanted to clean her to have her for dinner. I don't want to waste more valuable time searching for this info, while she lays out on the deck-railing in the rain, awaiting butchering & decomposing! Ick! & I'm very new to this, having just bought our farm 6 months ago & deciding to be self sufficient "farmers"! (Jussssst in case that wasn't blatantly obvious & someone needed an explanation . . .)

So here are my questions:

1) What predator does that & should I be taking proper precautions for no repeats?

2) Is there anything WRONG w/ eating her? I don't know how long she's been dead, but it was some time in the night between me shutting the non-Idiots into the coop for the night (9:30ish) & me doing chores this morning - 6:30-7:00.

2) How should I clean her? She was given to me (along w/ another bunch of chickens that have been banished from the coop & labeled as Idiots b/c Pre-Gift-Chickens, we were getting 7-8 eggs/day w/ 8 hens & Post-Gift-Chickens, we got 2-3 eggs/day. What's wrong w/ this picture?!) I think age might be relevant here & I can tell you that I have no clue how old she is. But she was a big, nice-looking barred rock. I'm thinking that the smell of dipping a whole, feathered chicken into a pot of boiling water is a less-than-pleasant one & wouldn't mind avoiding it, if at all possible. I'm also thinking I'd read there is a way to skin chickens that's supposedly quicker & easier than plucking . . . ?

3) How should I cook her? I usually roast whole chickens in a LaCloche (clay) roaster, that's a shallow pan (approx 2" tall) w/ a big dome that goes over the top - tons of garlic & onions - & they turn out deeeeeeelicious. This is, of course, pre-butchered chickens either from the store or from a chicken-raising friend, though! I want to be sure she's tender!

Thanks in advance for your help! Sarah in the Boonies, Michigan

-- Sarah "Dolt" Sanders/MI (, June 06, 2001


Sarah- If the head is missing it was probably a racoon. Cannot help you with the butchering- beyond my level. As for predator control, after raising my beautiful RIR/Buff Orpington x hens for 5 1/2 months, one week and 12 eggs after they started to lay I lost all 3 of them to a fox. I had previously lost the rooster to a neighbor's dog. So, when I got my new batch of Anconas I did not take any chances. I put a single strand of electric fence wire around the perimeter of my garden (I keep my chickens in a chicken tractor in the garden). I then added a strand of wire on 5" insulators around the bottom of the pen. I just took a piece of scrap electric wire and twisted it around the original strand of wire that was around the perimeter. Now, when I move the pen I can just reattach the pen wire to the perimeter wire. This makes my system very flexible. So far, so good. No racoon, fox, dog, or cat problems to date.

-- Elizabeth (, June 06, 2001.

Sarah bury the hen and doin't eat her skunks and opossoms also eat head off for mainly the blood. When you want to process one for table the chicken should be bleed and processed soon and chilled in ice water. Then frozen or cooked soon. I skin or some times scald and pluck feathers depending on chicken and pen feathers some times hard to get all of them. hope this helps coaltrain

-- coaltrain (, June 06, 2001.

I don't think you should eat that chicken either. You want a fresh killed chicken. Such as wounded, crippled, or mean. If it's older than 12 wks., it will be a tough bird, so clow juicy or pressure cooking will tenderize it.

We don't pluck ours. We live on a river, here and butchering a chicken invites a whole host of predators. We hang them by the feet from a tree, cut their heads off and drain the blood in a bucket, however, a few drops ALWAYS gets on the grass, hence the predators....

After bleeding, we skin them, starting at the breastbone, just like you'd skin any bird. As soon as it's skinned, we remove internal organs, being careful NOT to puncture or damage the ball bladder at all! Then cut the feet off, and wa la! chicken for supper. Wash and put in salt water and ice for a couple of hours until dinner.

-- Louise Whitley (, June 06, 2001.

Don't eat that chicken, wild animals sometimes have rabies. Especially skunks and raccoons. We skin our chickens, I tried plucking; stinky, gross, and I never even wanted to eat them afterward. Skinning isn't so bad. The advice to watch out for the gall sac attached to the liver is wise. If that breaks you may as well toss the bird. Marinating helps for tough older birds as well as pressure cooking. If you're looking for a great resource for homesteading I recommend Carla Emery's book, "The Encyclopedia of Country Living". It costs about $30, but it is worth every cent. I hope this info helps.

-- Sharon Spangenberg (, June 06, 2001.

I have found for older birds, seal in a vaccum packaging bag and cooking it right in the bag works wonders.

-- Maylene (, June 06, 2001.

First rule: Never eat any animal unless you know how it died. (Once knew of some people who witnessed their horse kick the steer in the head and killed it. They rushed right out and butchered the steer to save the meat.)

Butchering and cleaning poultry is not that hard. Just messy. Hold the bird upside down with both legs in left hand and wait until it stops beating it's wings. Lay its head over a chopping block and quickly and deliberately chop its head off. With a short piece of twine that you have already handy, tie the legs together and hang the bird from a peg to let the blood drain. Unless you love the skin, don't bother with plucking. Cut off the wing tips and then the feet right at where the feathers start. Split the skin down the breast starting at the neck and then peel the skin back over the wings and legs. When you get down to the tail, cut than off as well and discard the skin, feathers and all. Carefully cut into the body cavity below the breast bone and around the anus. Do NOT cut into the intestines. This is the trickiest part. Carefully reach in and pull out the intestines and stomach and discard. Pull out the wind pipe and then remove the gizzard, heart, liver and kidneys. Save these for the cats or dogs. (Cut the gizzard open and clean out the gravel first.) The kidneys are tucked into recesses on either side of the spine below the ribs. Go into the neck and carefully remove the crop. It is a tough sac that may or may not be filled with air. The last thing to come out are the lungs. They are usually deflated and plastered against the ribs. Just scrape them out with your fingers and then flush out the body cavity with lots of cold water. Refrigerate or freeze the bird until you are ready to cook.

I do guineas, ducks, and geese the same way. Turkeys are the only birds I pluck. You really need the skin on a bird that big so the meat doesn't dry out when roasting. I have never scalded or anything. I just pluck them dry. It's not hard, just time consuming. You have to be carefull in some areas not to tear the skin.
-- Skip Walton (, June 06, 2001.

Aside from not knowing how long the bird was dead, what killed the bird and what might be transferred to you, the taste of tainted meat that hasn't been hung to bleed immediately after the kill, is really disgusting in my opinion.

But when you have a properly killed critter, this might help. Two butchering sites:

-- ~Rogo (, June 07, 2001.

Well, I just butcherd my first chicken today--hung it by it's feet, slit the neck--was over quick, and I put it in 150 deg water for 4 minutes--feathers came out *quite* easy, then I took off the head, and legs, and went in to the kitchen, slit the vent area open, and pulled the viscera out. wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, and it was *tender*.

-- Brendan K Callahan (, June 07, 2001.

Don't eat any animal that looked sick or you didn't kill yourself. It isn't smart to take chances with your health. I also recommend Carla Emery's book. Her instructions for butchering are very clear. I finally got the book a few years ago (silly me, I kept waiting for the price to go down!), and it has been a great help.

-- Bonnie (, June 07, 2001.

Wow, thanks SO MUCH for all the advice, everyone! I was in mid-pluck when my mom called to tell me to get to the hospital b/c I was about to be an aunt, so . . . Project Chicken was aborted. I wanted to at least PRACTICE on her, even if I DID end up just cooking her up for my wolf. BUT - she got a little . . . um . . . shall we say "RIPE"? & is going to become compost here, pretty quick.

I saved all the information you folks gave me & put it on disk for when I actually DO butcher one, though. Thank you so much!

Also, I'm looking for colored egg layers, so if any of you have any to sell or hatching eggs & are near south-central MI, please email me! I'm specifically looking for the rarer breeds like: Marans, Barnevelders & true Araucanas.

Thanks again! Sarah/MI

-- Sarah - Question Asker (, June 08, 2001.

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