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Butchering Chickens, The Basics

Butchering Chickens, The Basics

In a highly urbanized society such as the one we live in, we often depend on the grocery stores or supermarkets for our food needs. However, as more light is shed on how meat is commercially produced, the conditions the animals are subjected to, and the chemicals given to them before they make it to our table, we are getting more enlightened. Now, more and more people have come to realize that it is much better to grow our own meat chickens and butcher them ourselves. This way, we know what goes into the food we’re eating.

First-timers will not find butchering chickens pleasant but with time, it will get easier and you will become more adept at butchering your meat chickens.

Prepare the materials you will need so you have everything within reach. Ideally, you should have an outside table where you can eviscerate the bird, two or more knives 4 to 6 inches in length, a killing cone designed for butchering chickens(available in farm supply stores) positioned above a bucket to catch the blood and other pieces from the meat chicken, running water, a scalding tank or a huge pot with water over a burner, thermometer, cutting boards and zip-close plastic bags.

Next, grab the meat chicken by the feet and let them hang upside down with their heads placed inside the killing cone. Pull the head through the bottom of the cone and firmly holding it with one hand, cut about three inches below the beak, severing the jugular vein and the carotid artery completely to speed up the slaughter. Drain the blood completely.

Dunk the meat chicken into the scalding tank to make plucking the feathers easier. An ideal scalding temperature is 135 degrees Fahrenheit. Try plucking a feather and if it easily comes off, you can remove the chicken from the tank and begin plucking the rest of the feathers. Tiny feathers can be removed easily by rubbing your palm against the grain of the feathers. The wing and tail feathers must be removed a few at a time to prevent tearing the skin. Smooth the skin further by scraping at the surface using a pinning knife. Rinse the bird with water from your hose.

You can then begin removing the parts of the chicken that you don’t need. Remove the oil gland found at the chicken’s tail. Hold one end of the gland and using the sharpest knife you have, slice it down, ensuring that you remove the entire gland(the yellow colored tissue you see). Remove the feet by cutting at the joints. Cleave the head from neck. Remove the trachea and esophagus by slitting the skin at the back of the neck. The crop should also be freed from the body.

Cut open the cavity of the chicken by inserting your knife about an inch above the vent. Open the skin right up to the breastbone without cutting the intestines. Then, carefully cut around the either side of the vent and pull it from the body. If you have cut the vent well, the intestines should come after too. You can then eviscerate the bird by removing the entrails and other internal organs. Hose the inside and outside of your bird before submerging it for an hour in cold water. You can then pat the bird dry before storing it in large Ziploc bags in your freezer.

Butchering chickens is not the most appealing part of raising chickens, however it can be done in a humane way and is an essential part of producing your own chicken meat. If butchering chickens is something that you just can’t bring yourself to do, consider finding someone else willing to do it for you. You may be able to set up a barter situation, where someone does the butchering for you and maybe gets some of the meat.

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