butchering chickens for the first time

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I've never butchered chickens before and I've waited too long on some roosters.

I've read that killing cones are the best way, but the price for them is horrendous!

I've gotta do this tomorrow morning, so now it's too late for cones anyway. What's the next best method?

-- Paul Wheaton (paul@javaranch.com), November 10, 2001


Maybe not the best way, but the easiest for us.....put the chicken's head under your foot and give a good yank by the feet. The head kinda pops right off. I can't bring myself to do it that way...the boys have to do it for me. Oh.....you want to wear rubber boots if you do it that way;~)!!! We have also used a couple of 16 penny nails in a stump just far enough apart for the neck but not for the head to slip through. Then whack it with an ax. Not very appetizing just before lunch! YUCK!

-- Nan (davidl41@ipa.net), November 10, 2001.

Cut the bottom out of a plastic milk jug, then cut the top off just enough to get the chicken's head through. Slip over the bird. You want it to be snug to control the flapping. Hold onto the bird's legs and the jug with one hand, cut off the head with a cleaver with the other, and hold on! It helps to do this on a tree stump that you've put 2 nails into a couple of inches apart to hold the head in place. Or hang the bird upside down from a branch by the legs with baling twine and cut it's throat on both sides with a very sharp knife.

-- Paula (chipp89@bellsouth.net), November 10, 2001.

I meant to mention that it is much easier and faster to skin the birds than it is to pluck them. After the head is off by whatever method and the bird has bled out, put the end of a water hose under the skin left on the neck, hold tight so it doesn't leak, and turn on the water - the bird will blow up like a balloon, separating the skin from the bird and making skinning much easier. Some people use an air compressor. We thought when we tried this the first time that the meat would dry out during cooking without the skin, but it doesn't as long as you don't overcook it. We even grill it, works fine.

-- Paula (chipp89@bellsouth.net), November 10, 2001.

The way my Ma taught me to do it over 40 years ago was to grab both of the feet and both wing tips with my left hand, you have to hang on tight, and then put the birds head between two nails driven into a stump just far enough apart to slip the neck in. And then take an ax and make a swift, clean cut through the neck. I then quickly put the bird on the ground and hold it with both hands till it quits spasming. It takes a minute or so. I still do it that way today and I always thought that hanging them up by the feet and cutting their throat with a knife was a little more torture than I was willing to impart on the poor things. Good Luck. Oh yeah, wear some old clothes as you will probably get some blood on you. Motz

-- Motz (borgia@northernnet.com), November 10, 2001.

I use a stump with nails in it also. Just chop the head off and let them flop. (some people use cones to keep the chicken from flopping. They can bruse from this but I have had very little problems.) Give them a few minutes to settle down. I have a post in the ground with nails on each side and use twine to tie the legs and hang the chicken up (head down). Cut the head off and bleed out. I also skin and have found it the best way. Skin first - take the chicken down - cut off the feet - clean out the inners - and put in a bucket of water. Butchered six chicken today.

-- Tom S. (trdsshepard@yahoo.com), November 10, 2001.

Hold the chicken by their feet and spin them in circles quickly for a few minutes. It dazes them momentarily giving you time to lay them down and cut their necks. We've used the nails too before and they work well, but I still recommend making them dizzy first, they are less likely to escape. We bought and tried killing cones. We found them to be a nuisance and messy to clean up afterward. We don't pluck anymore either (too gross), we skin our chickens, much quicker and tidier. It still isn't a job I like. I wish you success.

-- Sharon (spangenberg@hovac.com), November 10, 2001.

My husand uses a 5 gallon metal bucket. He takes the chicken and lays it on the ground, holding onto it's head. He places the bucket over the chicken, leaving just it's head and neck exposed, then WHACK with the ax. The head is on the outside, and the body is on the inside of the bucket. It's quick and easy, and blood doesn't get everywhere.

-- Cheryl in KS (cherylmccoy@rocketmail.com), November 11, 2001.

My dad always used to use a 5 gallon bucket with a chicken head-sized hole in the bottom- same idea, but lots cheaper than a killing cone!

-- Sarah K. (ladynuala@hotmail.com), November 11, 2001.

We butchered our first two chickens today. We used a 1 1/2 gallon bleach bottle with the bottom cut out and enough of the top to get the head through. We made a hood to put over the chickens head with a draw string closure. All birds are quiet if they cant see! I learned this from documentaries about falconry, covering a parakeet cage to quiet the rascal etc. Works great. No chicken trauma. Will try the trick with the nails in the stump next time.

God bless country life

-- Gerald Lee Collatz (gcollatz@nc.rr.com), January 19, 2002.

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