First of a two-part series on butchering your chickens.
Read Part Two
by Krislee Johnson
As we prepare to butcher I am getting excited over the prospect of putting meat in our freezer. The flock is in desperate need of being thinned out after this spring’s incubator hatch. With 31 birds, three of them being young turkeys, space is soon to be at a premium in the coop. Quite frankly, too many roosters crowing and wanting to jump on anything that moves is tiresome.
Currently, we are a few days shy of our planned butcher date. I’ve started to segregate the birds keeping the hens and young pullets safe from too many aggressive males. The males and females now rotate free ranging ever other day. At night the hens, pullets and turkeys stay in the coop. The males spend their nighttime hours in a secure covered pen with roost bars. Two duck drakes also join the fellas in this area.
How to Prepare
After shadowing a neighbor dispatch and clean birds I knew we weren’t fully prepared. Witnessing the process from start to finish was eye opening. We gathered tips for humane dispatch and proper de-feathering & cleaning techniques. Beyond actual methods we also learned what tools were required. My husband and I feel slightly more prepared for the task ahead of us.
With a brief education in butchering chickens under our belts, we researched and ordered a few tools.
OUR MUST HAVE ITEMS
- Deboning knife (similar to filet knife)
- Cleaver (for birds butchered on chopping block)
- Kill cone
- Propane turkey fryer to heat water
- Vacuum sealer w/ bags
- Chicken plucker
- Garbage bags for trimmings etc
We already had most of these items except for the kill cone and vacuum sealer. Thankfully, we are able to borrow our neighbor’s chicken plucker which allows us to save a little money. Perhaps next year we will make our own plucker or purchase a nice one.
As I wait for the last of our Amazon deliveries I’ll do my best to keep my birds happy. The young roosters are not thrilled but I’m sure the ladies feel like they are on holiday.
Be sure to stay tuned for Part Two of this great adventure. I will share insights, tips and the steps we took to make our first butcher a success.