Processing Chickens : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

This information is from the book, "Butchering, Processing and Preservation of Meat". by Frank G. Ashbrook

Domestic birds ready for killing should be deprived of feed for 24 hours. This will clean out the feed from the crops and intestines. The dressed birds also will keep longer and will be of better quality. During the period they are not fed they should have water, which will wash feed particles out of the digestive tract. This "starving before killing" is very important.

Poultry maybe killed by beheading, dislocating the neck, or sticking. Cutting off the head is the common home-and-farm method. Dislocating the neck is rarely practiced. Sticking involves severing the arteries in the bird's neck and is most commonly used commercially.

One of the best ways to kill a chicken is to bleed it by severing the arteries in the neck. The fowl is suspended by the feet at about the height of the shoulder of the plucker. A particular kind of killing knife is desirable. The blade should be a heavy piece of steel, about 2 inches long. It should be grounded to a sharp point with a straight cutting edge rather than from the front. The head of the fowl is taken in the left hand and the knife in the right hand. With the thumb and forefinger of the left hand, the mouth is forced open by pressure and the knife is inserted into the mouth with the blade pointing toward the back of the head. The knife is then forced up to the juncture of the head and neck where the arteries come down on each side of the neck; these are severed and the fowl bleeds freely. Immediately afterward the knife is forced into the roof of the mouth and forced into the brain cavity so that the brain is pierced. When this is done properly it will make a convulsion movement which tends to loosen the feathers in the feather muscles. If the brain has not been properly pierced, the feathers are hard to pluck and the skin is frequently torn badly.

The feathers can removed by dry plucking, scalding, semi-scalding, and wax plucking. Scalding is accomplished by immersing the bird for a few seconds in hot water (150 deg. to 190 deg.). Young birds scald best in temperatures 150 deg. to 160 deg.; and older and tough ones require temperatures of 180 deg. to 190 deg. The best time to pluck a bird is shortly after it is killed.

After the bird has been dressed, the bird is put into a cool place, because it is necessary that the heat pass out of the body as soon as possible.

I hope this answers a lot of questions.

-- r.h. in Okla. (, September 03, 2001


Another good one is Chapter 5 in Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, by Gail Damerow. I ordered a copy through the hatchery in Lebanon, MO, and I've also seen it in McMurray's catalog. Not very expensive, maybe about $11 to $15, which is pretty darned cheap in comparison to what I've paid for some of my other books. It's also available at a number of libraries.

-- Claudia Glass (, September 06, 2001.

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