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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tools Used for Butchering and Dressing Out Poultry

This is Part 7 of the Series Tools (used on my 'stead) Parts 1-6 can be found here.

ButcheringThis picture was rigged for dramatic effect, and I thought it was funny.


Butchering, a pretty picture it does not make. But would look good on the cover of a horror novel. When it comes to butchering your bird, there is relatively few tools involved. Your hands will be important in many different aspects, from catching to the actual butcher, be it done by hand or man made objects.

For the process you will also need rope, and a high enough place to allow your bird to bleed out. We use a tree. A machete, or hatchet can be used. A board, or in our case a piece of railroad tie that has two nails hammered in about 2 inches apart. The most important of all your tools, nerves.

Dressing out/processing your birds.

Depending on the size of your bird you will need either a large garbage can (only thing that would hold our turkey)
or a large pot.

Water and a heat source are needed. Also a place to dress out the bird, such as a tarp on a table

or in the case of our ducks and chickens, a trash bag and a piece of ground. (Another thing on our list to build is a slaughtering house) running water and a hose should be close by. A pair of excellent field shears and knife. Pliers, small torch, instructions if it your first time, a husband or male that is willing to do the dirty work for you, and a stomach made of steel.

Storing is a matter of cooking and eating, canning or wrapping for the freezer.

For more on how-to do these things, read Butchering your Rooster, Butchering your Ducks, and Butchering your Turkey.

And please, I already know all the arguments against eating meat, remember I was a vegan for a very long time. So please, no outlandish comments about how evil I am.

Also I am requesting that my fellow homesteaders that blog to please write a list of tools that you use for butchering and dressing out the type of livestock that you keep. Tim, looking at you for rabbits. It doesn't need to be a how-to, just a list of tools, for this is my limit on butchering. Please leave a comment here with the link, thank you.

12 comments:

farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Phelan I will do a post soon to help you out since we will be butchering a few roosters. But as a quick "aside" here---we don't worry about the feathers. We don't eat skin---so we strip the whole thing off, feathers and all, and throw it in the compost pile. Easy schmeezy.
Monica

Tim Appleton (Applehead) said...

Yeah I do the same thing. Hang it up by the feet, and strip 'er down. Very easy.

Phelan said...

Thamk you Monica.

hands hands handsy Tim.

Stephanie said...

I was completely grossed out the first time we did chickens. Tim gave me the holding job while he did the chopping. One got away from me after the chop. YUCK! I don't normally think of myself as having a weak stomach, but I am sure glad Tim does all this work! :)

About the tools for rabbits he uses pretty much the same tools as with the chickens. The only thing different I can think is that he place a small board between the hind legs to keep them spread to make the work easier.

Celeste said...

To make it easier to cut heads off I had a board 3 feet long with 2 one penny nails in it a little over midway to the top, wide enough for neck to lay in and body to stay below.I would then place a loop around birds neck, stretch neck and whack. Oh yea the feet are tied too. MOst times I had someone hold feet to help stretch neck and to keep bird from flopping.

nt moore said...

I used the axe/hatchet/knife method for a few years and was always frustrated by how messy and uncontrolled it seemed.

Lately, I've decided that, though it seems a little more unpleasant, the most efficient way to dispatch a chicken is to hold the feet in my right hand and bend back/pull down the head with my left hand. As the books suggest, the rooster's head really does pop off, and to me it seems more humane than the chopping method (which often requires a few chops).

I also skip plucking and skin the birds. Then I fillet out the breasts and joint the legs at the hip socket. If I need stock I can stew the legbones. It probably seems wasteful, but I don't bother with the wings. With this approach I can do a rooster in about 5 minutes.

Note, I've tried, but as of yet, I can't get this neck-breaking technique to work on ducks (muscovies and pekins).

Phelan said...

Thank you Stephanie. A friend of mine that does rabits explained to me in detail how to kill and skin a rabbit using only your hands. hhmmmm...

Celeste, that is similar to what we use.

nt, we haven't found it too be to messy, gutting is what gets us dirty. I do not leave the skin on because of starage and how some of my chickens will be prepared. If a plan on canning, like I do the bannies, then I do not pluck.

nt moore said...

Yes, gutting is dirty, and more than that, chicken guts smell like chicken guts. That more than anything else put my off of dressing out the whole bird.

The roosters I'm talking about though are 6-8 month old roosters, which either totally, or partially red star strain. There's really not much to the wings, so it doesn't seem like a huge loss.

I tried caponizing this spring, but that was just too brutal, after 4 failures in a row I gave it up.

Phelan said...

I bought my husband a caponizing kit last Christmas. ( I am just so romantic that way) We have yet to do it. He is a little concerned about death of the bird. The books make it sound so easy, but they do that with most things. I was ready to burn the book when we dressed out a turkey for the first time.

nt moore said...

I bought the NASCO kit this spring and tried the procedure on 4 birds. As memory serves, the birds were roughly weeks old at the time - just starting to feather out in the mature way. I thought at this point that I'd be able to sex them by their comb, but one of the birds I opened up had no testes (a hen), so that theory only sort-of works.

We withheld feed for roughly 3 hours before trying the procedure, but the birds still had some volume in their intestine. I'm guessing that they ate their litter.

Actually opening up a bird is distressing. The bird squaks (obviously!), and there's a lot of intestine between the incision and the area of the spine where the testes are located. Additionally, the rib spreaders that come with the NASCO kit are fairly slippery, and the skin incision often bleeds enough volume to make distinguishing anything inside the bird nearly impossible.

The thing to do would be to learn from someone who's done a few hundred birds successfully. Unfortunately for me, I haven't found a local grower that's willing to teach. I may send an email to Wapsie in Decorah later this spring.

I've also thought about contacting my local 4-H agent.

If you figure out a procedure that works, I'd love to hear your approach!

Phelan said...

I don't remember the brand I bought, I purchased it from the McMurray Hatchery. It came with a disposable scapel, that annoyed me. For the amount it costs, nothing should be disposable. I have thought about contacting the local extension office and see if anyone there could teach me how to correctly sex and caponize birds. The sexing thing is ridiculous. There are so many ways to do it, yet none of them seem to be working for us. I thought about just buying sex linked birds to make my life easier. But what fun would that be?

If you do get someone to explain it, and you do accomplish it successfully, please, notes and photos (Photos always help if you can't be there in person)

nt moore said...

From: http://www.soilandhealth.org/03sov/0302hsted/030205ellis/030205poultry.html

To make Capons.--This operation belongs to the country housewife. I know a yeoman living near Hempstead in Hertfordshire, whose estate is but about fifty pounds a year, that makes (as it is credibly reported) ffteen pounds a year by the sale of capons; his wife and daughter cut the young dunghill cocks, but I don't suppose they were all bred on his farm, for some for this purpose make it their business after harvest-time to go to markets for buying up chickens, and between Michaelmas and Allhollantide caponize the cocks, when they have got large enough to have stones of such a bigness that they may be pulled out, for if they are too little, it can't be done; and to know when a cock is fit for it, he should be pretty well grown, have a good comb, and be well fleshed, for these signs shew they are bigger than those of leaner fowls. To cut them, the cock must lie on its back, and held fast, while with a very sharp knife she cuts him only skin-deep about an inch in length, between the rump and the end of the breast-bone, where the flesh is thinnest; next she makes use of a large needle to raise the flesh, for her safer cutting through it to avoid the guts, and making a cut here big enough to put her finger in, which she thrusts under the guts, and with it rakes or tears out the stone that lies nearest to it. This done, she performs the very same operation on the other side of the cock's body, and there takes out the other stone; then she stitches up the wounds, and lets the fowl go about as at other times, till the capon is fatted in a coop, which is commonly done from Christmas to Candlemas, and after. Now if the stones are but big enough, as they lie to the back, they may be safely taken out with a greased fore-finger, without much danger of killing the creature, but when they are too small there is danger. This way of caponizing a cock, I have had done at my house for my information, by a woman deemed to be one of our best capon cutters, else it would have been a difficult matter for me to give a description of it; for they that never saw such an operation, and venture at it, must expect to kill one or more, before he or she gets master of the science. And indeed it is for want of this knowledge that the art of caponizing fowls is not so much practised as formerly; but as I have given a pretty good account I hope of it, I am of opinion the art will be revived, and capons sold in greater plenty than ever.

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