Harvesting (aka Butchering) Chickens
I'm told that's the correct term now. Our oldest goes to an agriculture college where they talk about such things. After the work that went into raising our Freedom Rangers, we wouldn't want to
butcher them, would we? Actually, we did! We were concerned about being too sympathetic about the killing process but we were so ready to rid ourselves of the messy things, we were looking forward to it. Weird, huh?
Really, it wasn't as bad as it was cracked up to be.
|The rams are going to miss their chicken-tv.|
These birds were 11 weeks old at harvest and some were a little big weighing in at 6 pounds. I think if we do this again we will plan on 9-10 weeks. It's amazing how fast they grow!
We set up an area outside in the shade with a super clean stainless steel table.
For our killing area, we used the hitching post. We opted for the hang upside down method. We tied nooses, one for each leg, with buckets under them.
Warning, if you don't want to see dead chickens, scroll no further!
The guys transported them from the pen to the hitching post.
Once they figured out how to do it, it moved along fairly quickly. That first one was tough though.
You need a VERY sharp knife. A long blade for one swipe is best.
Once the chickens are upside down, they become pretty calm. When the dirty deed was done, we lowered them into 5 gallon buckets. These were weighted with gravel in the bottom and lined with large black trash bags. This way when the nervous system takes over, they don't tip over the bucket & we didn't have to watch them bleed.
Yes, I was chicken!
Into the scalding pot for one minute to loosen the feathers. When you can easily pull out a large wing feather, it's ready to be plucked.
In the garage, we tied nooses from the garage door and put a wheelbarrow underneath. This held the birds at a good working level. Working with both hands we raked our hands down the chickens and the feathers fell into the wheelbarrow below. It wasn't a pleasant job but not the worst part if you ask me. Some of us liked plucking less than others. My hubby plucked most of the 25 birds.
|Poor Jonah had run out of chickens to harvest and had to help with this stage. He wasn't really mad but didn't want to smile for the camera.|
The cost of the chickens ended up being about the same as store bought but the taste can't compare.
I don't know if we will raise our own meat chickens again. If we do, a defeathering machine will make the job a lot easier. But even if we don't, we were glad for the experience. It truly made us appreciate our food and the One who provided it for us.
For the Lord your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete.