first time butchering chickens--help! : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

My dear city-bred hubby is being so sweet to learn how to butcher for me. A friend came down to show him how to do rabbit, which he did very well. Today he did his first chicken (just one, to practice and learn, before doing the other 14). He basically read some stuff on the internet and also a library book. Killing the chicken was easy. The hard part was the plucking. He finally decided to skin the bird, the same way he skinned the rabbits. Now we are asking all of you, what is your favorite method, skinning or plucking, and how do you do it using the least amount of time? While waiting for your answers, we are going to enjoy our very first home-raised chicken dinner. (The first rabbit was very thoroughly enjoyed and was declared better than a friend's home-raised rabbit.)

Thanks a bunch!!

-- Cathy N. (, October 01, 2001


When we have done our chickens we skin them right then and there. My husband kills them by cutting their throats, puts them into a bucket ( we have the kinds the bakeries give or throw away ) and wait until they stop kicking. Usually by the time we are done 10 or 20 we can begin to skin them. It takes very little time to do this and usually within a few minutes I have them in the kitchen skin cleaning them up while they are still warm. He takes everything out of them outside and gives them a quick rinse before I bring them in. If you want them really juicy use one of those cooking bags for cook them in. I boil the "innards" for the barn cats. Very little pin feathers left and don't forget to use the livers ..great fried with butter and fresh garlic...a real delight !! But yet again I love those fancy "snails" too. Good Luck and Enjoy !!

-- Helena (, October 01, 2001.

My dear aunt married a farm boy when she was 15- nana had never let either of her girls set foot in her kitchen-he took her back to his old widowed mom's farm in Mo. MIL told the young bride she had to cook a chicken for sunday dinner. "All right", she said wondering if there was a cookbook around. Then MIL pointed out the chicken, still scratching around the yard. Well! Aunt Patsey had seen Nana kill chickens many times and felt a little more like she might be able to impress her dour MIL. So, she got the wash tub, turned it upside down in one hand, grabbed the chicken by the neck in the other, and proceeded to whirl it round and round and round over her head and WHUMP! threw it under wash tub and slammed it down atop the chicken. Then she listened, but heard no thumping noises as the chicken fluttered and died. Slowly she raised the wash tub off the dirt, peeking under, and there was the chicken, peeking back at her. Well, sometimes, but rarely, Nana had to do it twice too. So she reached under, grabbed that chicken by the neck again, and set to whirling it above her head even more rapidly this time, and WHUMP! back under the wash tub. Again, silence. Again she raised the wash tub, and there, peeking back at her but a little unsteady from dizziness, was the chicken. She couldn't stand her MIL laughing at her, just a city slicker wife, so she grabbed that chicken and whirled it again, etc. This would've gone on all afternoon had not her sister in law arrived, observed, and tipped her off to the fact that Nana gave an imperceptible JERK! snap! to the chicken neck at the end of the whirl before slapping it under the washtub. I was telling this story to MY MIL when my husband arrived and said-I didn't know you had heard that story about my Aunt Francis! Apparently this used to be a rite of passage for the city slicker brides!

-- Mitzi Giles (, October 01, 2001.

I don't eat chicken often, but I can't imagine eating it without the skin ~ that's where all the flavor is!

-- ~Rogo (, October 01, 2001.

What a hoot! Poor "Aunt Patsey"! Reminds me of my mother trying to kill a goose she found. She found it trotting down the road one day, and after advertising for a while, with no owner found, she fattend the poor unsuspecting thing up. On "D" day, she had us kids catch it, and we held it down for her to chop off the head. She chopped and chopped, barely breaking the skin! Poor thing, I think it died just to end the trauma! Next time, I think she started out with a sharp axe! I skin all our chickens now, since it takes me a couple hours each to pluck them, and I just don't have the time or patience to do it! Jan

-- Jan in Co (, October 01, 2001.

I also find skinning much easier. btw, the chicken will taste much better if you chill it down really good first. I refrigerate for 24 hrs before cooking or freezing.

-- mary (, October 01, 2001.

Hmmm...well not to gross you all out, but when my hubby butchers a chicken, he skins them...but first he fills them up with water til (careful here!) they just about loosens the skin and makes it easier to remove. CJ

-- CJ (, October 01, 2001.

depends on what IM doing with it. skin it most of thte time,, pluickiong just takes WAY too long,, and the feather soup stinks

-- stan (, October 01, 2001.

We like to keep the skin on, so we dunk the freshly killed chicken in some hot water (140 degrees) swish it a few times in the water, and then hang up to pluck. This is definitely the most time-consuming step in the process, but if you want the skin on, that's what you need to do. You can use rubber gloves to grab the feathers easier. Mary

-- Mary Fraley (, October 01, 2001.

Hello Cathy, After you butcher and dress the chickens you should put them in the refrigerator for about 48 hours before freezing them. This allows the muscles to relax and makes for a more tender chicken. Sincerely, Ernest

-- (, October 01, 2001.

Cathy, I agree with a lot of the suggestions already made. We like to keep the skin on so, after hubby kills them, we swish them around in a bucket of hot water, then hang and pluck. It is time consuming but I think it's worth it. I also agree about keeping it in the fridge for 24-48 hrs. before freezing. We have learned from our mistakes regarding the above. Once, we didn't have the water hot enough and once it was too hot! The first time we butchered, we didn't know to keep it in the fridge for a day or so before freezing and the taste just wasn't the same. Now we have excellent meat!

-- Lisa (, October 01, 2001.

I pluck. I dip the bird into a pot (canner size) of hot water (150 degrees)with a small splash of dish detergent added to allow the water through the feathers a bit better, until wing and tail feathers are loosened. You'll want to be wearing good rubber gloves because of the hot water. I have newspaper on a table and pluck with the bird on the newspapers...I find it much easier than hanging the bird up and am able to do a better job in the plucking. Then comes the cleaning, washing,and chilling for 48 hours. It takes me about a half hour to 45 minutes per bird from hot water dip to fridge.

-- Alison in N.S. (, October 02, 2001.

We do it by cutting the head off, then putting the headless chicken in a new (we get a new can each butchering season) plastic trash can. Putting the lid on until the flapping stops. Then I pluck usually....sometimes skin, I hold the chicken up with my right hand and pluck with the left usually. Your arm gets really tired though. I had about 10 that were 9 lb. dressed out one year. I gut them out into a 5 gal bucket and then cut off the legs and singe the hairs if I have plucked them. Then I wash them really well, and cool them in the fridge for 48 hours. I cut some up and keep some whole and freeze. We didn't raise any meat chickens this year, but will for sure this next spring. I missed it. Don't skimp on the cooling before freezing.

-- Jenny Pipes (, October 02, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ