Chicken Butchering & the City Girl

Mother’s Day Chicken Butchering

I think I need to be more careful about what I share with my friends about my new endeavors. I told them all about my blog and what I was going to share on each day, well this is definitely something new, and something they thought I needed to try.

On Mother’s Day this year I had the opportunity to participate in a back yard process of butchering chickens with some friends of ours. It was an eye-opening experience for this city girl; one that I will probably never forget.

Inside the chicken coop

My friends raise chickens every year and on each Mother’s Day they butcher the whole lot. The total number of chickens butchered this year was about 100.

Butchering began early in the morning, long before I arrived. They had stations set up for the different stages in the process.

Decapitation Station

The decapitating process began with a metal cone nailed to a wooden column with the small hole pointing downward (for the chicken’s head to go through).

Boiling Water Dunking Station

There was a dunking station which was a large pot of boiling water to dunk the chicken in after it had bled out on the pole.

The boiling water helps with the feather plucking.

Plucking Machine

They had a plucking machine set up that sped up the process of plucking the feathers.

Hand Plucking

There was also a table set up where my friends would stand to continue to pluck the feathers and the hair from the skin of the chicken.

Singeing the hair

Once the plucking was done the chickens went through a singeing process where a blow torch was used to singe off any remaining hair.

Before removal of digestive tract

Then the chickens went to the next station that was removing the crop and the rest of the digestive system.

Removing the gizzard, heart, and liver

Removal was done in two stages the crop was removed first then another person would remove the gizzard, the liver, heart, and carefully remove the gall bladder.

Gizzards,Hearts, & LIvers

If the gall bladder was punctured as it was removed, none of the organs could be used. Many people use the chicken gizzards, hearts, and livers as delicacies or to feed their pets.

The Cut-up Station

The chicken then went to a chlorine wash to get rid of any other dirt of lingering germs. After it was washed it was then cut up and bagged for freezing.

I learned so many things from this experience. I learned what is meant by the phrase “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.” Because the chickens would move around after they were decapitated.  I also learned something that I not only never knew, but really did not want to know. As the chickens were being butchered, the live ones would eat the feathers, drink the blood and even peck at the severed chicken heads.

I also learned that while these chickens were free range, antibiotic free and organically fed, they were still hybrids. Hybrid chickens are designed to grow faster and bigger compared to non-hybrid chickens; something to think about when purchasing organic chickens in the future. Another question to ask farmers “Are the chickens hybrid?”

It costs roughly $9 a chicken, from tiny delivered chicks to butchering time.  If you aren’t inclined to butcher the chickens yourself, like my friends did, there are places that will butcher them for you, but at another cost to you. One thing is for sure, I now understand why organic chicken is so much more expensive to buy.

The question still remains, “Will I do this process again?” The answer is probably, but I will only do the plucking, and maybe the singeing.

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