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Butchering/Slaughtering
March 15, 2011
8:31 pm
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kdubbs
Big Chicken
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March 2, 2011
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I see there's been a lapse in the butchering discussion, but I'm looking for chicken butchering newbie tips!  I'm excited--I just ordered a dozen Cornish X peeps, so we're about to try butchering chickens for the first time.  We've got a fair bit of slaughtering/butchering experience under our belts (lots of deer, plus the lambs we've raised the past couple of years, and some wild turkeys).  You would think the turkeys would be good practice, but my husband has ended up skinning all of them because he quickly got frustrated with plucking and skin tearing.  He didn't try scalding.  I'm thinking that some of our birds will end up in skinned pieces anyway, but I'd like to leave the skin on some of them--for roasting whole, as well as for making soup or pot pie, since I think skin and fat make for a nicer stock.  Does anyone out there have some tips on scalding and effective plucking? 

 

Thanks!

March 15, 2011
9:22 pm
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Flatlander
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We only handplucked the first year..after that we used a chickenplucker and that is a huge difference.

If you can find/borrow one, please do.

To do it by hand we killed the bird, plucked it by hand..and then with a gas burner quickly over the body to loosen the last pins.

Best is to use a paring knife and just scrape, they will come up and you can remove them.

But like I said..we only did it one year, now we have use of a chicken plucker and that is a time and marriage saferlaugh

I'm ordering mine this week, about 50 Cornish cross and 25 turkeys.

March 15, 2011
10:17 pm
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Ruby
Upstate NY
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I am certainly no expert and have not done it since I was a kid. My grandfather lived with us and was a butcher. We would dunk the chickens in really hot water, pull the feathers off by hand and then my grandmother and mother would sit at the table with tweezers and pull the pin feathers. For large animals, a neighbor called "The Killer" would come with a flat bed truck fitted with a large boom and block & tackle. The animal could be hoisted with that, slaughtered and gutted/skinned. Pigs would be dunked into a 50 gallon drum filled with boiling water. It was set up on cinder blocks with a fire underneath to heat the water. A few dunks in the water and it then placed on table and scraped. I don't remember my father or grandfather complaining that this system didn't work. Obviously the key was the special truck and boom. The Killer had a small side business going from farm to farm in the fall  and spring with it.  Hope this helps.

March 15, 2011
10:56 pm
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gakaren
S.W. Ga., USA
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January 16, 2011
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I'm like Ruby, I haven't done it since I was a kid but some times we singed them & some times we dipped them in hot water.  I think we would dip if we were doing a bunch at once & singe when we were just doing one for Sunday dinner.   Just like sometimes we rung their necks & sometimes we chopped it off...?????  I have no idea why!  But either way, singe or dip....they stink!!!!!!!!!!

If I learned something today, the day wasn't a waste!

March 15, 2011
11:09 pm
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Ross
Bel Air Maryland
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if you scald them in water at about 180 and then cool them so that they don't cook under the hot wet feathers they pluck fairly easily. There will remain some hair just fine strands rather well spaced that can be singed either with a gas burner on the stove or with a propane torch.

March 16, 2011
10:35 am
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zita
northern Illinois
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March 16, 2011
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We have butchered many chickens.  the key is hot water.  If the scalding is too long it changes the color of the skin.  Next bird just scald slightly less.  We hand the scalded birds by their feet and pluck several in succession.  We also have a cone  to butcher and drain the blood.  Much better than just cutting the head off and letting the bird flop around, which damages the meat.We now use a plucker but still scald.  Hope this helps a bit.  Zita

March 16, 2011
11:31 am
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Flatlander
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I didn't mention it in my former post, but yes of  course we scald too before plucking.

We don't really measure the temperature, but when the water comes to a rolling boil, we add one pot of cold water and then dump the turkey in there.

We take the bird out before the color of the skin changes and don't hold him still but move while holding the legs.

Hand plucking works, but I find it a huge chore, specially if you butcher a lot in one day.

We chop the head of, but before we do, we put them in an old grain bag, with a little hole in the bottom to stick out his head..

Hubby chops, I hold the bird by the legs and the bag prevents the bird to flap and bruise himself.

 

March 16, 2011
3:39 pm
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gail
Pike county Illinois
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Hello, My Grandmother taught me to kill, scald, pick, pluck  and butcher chickens. Belive it or not it is a chore I enjoy and can clean a chicken in nothing flat! My husband is standing there with his forth of fifth hand full of feathers and mine is ready to be singed (it may be a ploy to get out of picking chickens knowing my better half ) I don't have a plucker I have been told they are nice, maybe one day. When I scald I hold the bird by the feet agitating it in circles and then I bring it up out of the water, repeating the process two or three times. then I test to see if the bird is ready to pluck by pulling a few feathers from the leg, if they come off easy it's time to start plucking. Remove from water and swing the bird back and forth removing excess water. Why would I use this procedure you ask ? Because that's the way Grandma taught me when I was seven years old. That was a loooong time ago, and it takes this old dog a lot to learn new tricks. haha  I think maybe you are leaving the birds in the water to long when you are scalding and cooking the skin. That is probably why some of the skin comes off when you are plucking feathers. However if you allow the bird to cool to much it will set the feather's and you will have the same problem. Hope this bit of experience helps.

Happy Plucking !

March 18, 2011
3:21 pm
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kdubbs
Big Chicken
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March 2, 2011
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Thanks, all!  Sounds like great advice.  I don't think I'll have access to a plucker this year, so it'll be done by hand.  Lots of great specifics--I feel a bit more equipped now!

March 18, 2011
3:34 pm
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lizzie
Grass Valley
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Hi, last year was my first experience with butchering chickens, my girlfriend had me come out to the ranch, she had it all set up, killing cone, hot water bath, and plucker machine, the only thing that was a little hard for me was gutting the chicken, had to make sure that you did it right or else! so this was a great learning experience, I don't have this kind of setup at my house so if I were to order meat birds I would take them out to the ranch to dispatch, you can not beat the taste of home grown chickens! very yummy and you know that they had a good life!

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