Monday, July 7, 2014

Our chicken processing day...

Our chicken processing day went well. We didn't get started until about lunchtime, as we forgot to turn on the hot water unit until about 10am, and then it took about 2 hours to heat up to temperature. Damian made up a killing cone, and attached it to a tree. We like this method, as it's really quick, no stress on the bird and they are already in the right position to drain. We were thinking of making up a plucking machine, but honestly, this is quick, it only takes a minute or 2 per bird, so I don't know if we'll worry about that, as it's not like we will be doing that many birds. We only ended up keeping 5 for the table, as the others were not meat breeds at all, and were just not worth the time to process for the amount of meat that would have been on them, so the other 5 were just culled and added to our soil to enrich it. So ten birds all up. The first bird took us about 40 minutes from plucking to putting in the ice slurry. It was a pretty slow process, as even though we had watched heaps of DVD's, working out all the "bits", where to cut etc is really a hands on, learn as you go thing. We did 2 birds before we had lunch, and at lunchtime we watched  Joel Salatin enviscerate a chicken, and we found that quite helpful, as we had more of an idea of what he was doing, and it just gave us that extra little bit of info that we needed. We had the whole process down to about 15 minutes from plucking to ice slurry at the finish. It was a long day for us, but wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was a little sad with the culling of the prettier birds, but I know it had to be done, as we just couldn't keep the excess roosters. Damian did an exceptional job of the killing process, he was very methodical and kind to the birds, and so, so quick. This is what our finished product looked like.
Just like a real one!  We put the birds in the fridge overnight, as I was too tired to cut them all up so I did that yesterday. Cutting up a whole chicken was also a learning process for me, but once again, after the first one, it got easier and I had it pretty well sorted for the last 3. These are the cuts out of 1 chicken.
The breasts, drumsticks, wings and thighs. See how dark the thigh meat is....much darker than factory farmed birds. The drumsticks are about the size of the turkey drumsticks you buy at the supermarket, and the wings put those tiny little wings at the supermarket to shame. Out of 5 birds we ended up with 7.1kgs of meat pieces, plus 5 frames, weighing about 4 kilos all up, for stock and soups etc. I cut all the chickens up in to pieces, I didn't keep any for roasting, as I think I need to really flavour the chickens in curries and casseroles etc., so I can get over my initial "iffiness" of eating our own chickens. Once I have got in to using our own, then I don't think it will be an issue to roast a whole bird, especially as we will probably get just one breed for our meat chickens, and they won't be individual breeds like these ones were. I don't think this is something I could have done five years ago, but after losing so many chickens over the years to dogs and foxes and illness etc, I think you tend to harden up a bit. The major loss last year of 40 birds really toughened me up and I made a point of not getting so attached to my birds. I have been finding it increasingly difficult to buy chickens from the supermarkets and have only be buying "organic, freerange" birds, but I still don't believe these birds live a particularly great life, and I know that our own birds are truly free range. If we are going to eat chicken, then at least this is the more ethical way of doing it. We are looking at either Australorps or Plymouth Rocks as being our main breed, and these are a dual purpose bird, good laying, mothering abilities,and meat. So, we now have true farm grown, grass fed beef in our freezer from our friends, and our own chickens...that's gotta be a good thing.


  1. Looks like you did a great job on does look like a real bought one (except home grown and healthy). I know what you mean about eating your own birds even though one from the supermarket is the same. It's funny human emotions because we are caring people and you know what you have to do however it's because we care that you don't just go eating it without another thought. Great with all of these things you will build your confidence up with time. PS hope the car is sorted.

  2. Good Job Debra. It gets easier the more often you do it and you will be rewarded with such tasty chicken you will never want to eat supermarket chicken again.