Processing Chickens

Woodman
By Woodman on Tue, Feb 19, 2013 - 1:29am

I processed a couple extra cockerals tonight and thought I'd share what simple gear I use.  By getting setup properly ahead I find it goes vwey smooth.  There are some links in the Chicken Wiki article for more info onthe actual butchering process.

A big stockpot to heat water for dipping prior to defeathering, a thermometer to check the water temp is 140-150F, a small knife to bleed the bird, and a good old sharp boning knife that was my grandfathers:

 

Bleeding and plucking happen outside in the backyard.  I use a simple plucker rig mounted in a drill and a pan to carry the chickens inside after they have been plucked.  There's a cleaver in the pan to cut the head off before plucking:

 

In my workshop, I put paper over the workbench and floor.   I have one bowl for the chickens after they have been eviscerated and one bowl for the heart, liver, gizzard etc.  To the left is a trash can for unwanted parts, and to the right is a tub sink that is handy for washing.

 

Working by myself takes a couple hours including setup and cleanup.

 

 

 

5 Comments

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 3077
Very helpful, Tom!

Very helpful, Tom - thanks for taking the time to document (with pictures). I plan to try my hand at processing my first meat birds either later this year or early next.

For those considering the process like me, in addition to Tom's guidance above, I highly recommend also reading Sager's deatiled step-by-step account of his first chicken processing experience:

http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/raising-and-harvesting-broiler-chicke...

yallambee's picture
yallambee
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 27 2008
Posts: 10
Plans for the plucker

Hi

 

Does anyone have plans for  the plucker tool?

 

Thanks

Jeff

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1028
Plucker tool

I got that power drill mounted plucker shown in the picture above from Ebay. For a few occasional chickens its enough to get most of the feathers off; some hand plucking is still necessary.  You could buy the plucker fingers and build your own too, with some pvc pipe and fittings and a bolt for the shaft.  

A tub plucker would be a lot more money but handy if one is processing a lot of chickens.  The gold standard plans for building your plucker can be obtianed from this website, along with parts and other resources and information:  

http://whizbangbooks.com/

If you're only doing 1 or 2 birds, plucking by hand isn't that bad.  The secret is to dunk the bird for a minute in hot water, then the feathers come loose easy.

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1028
roasting chicken

Older birds or ones that were free ranged and active may be a little tougher if not prepared and cooked properly.  I took a bird out of the freezer that had been processed a year ago and let it defrost and rest in the frigerator for 2 days.  It was pretty big, about 4 or 5 pounds.  Then I slow roasted it at 300F for 3 hours. The meat just falls the bones without being too dry.  Most recipes say 350F or greater, but if you plan ahead a lower temp for a longer time, like for a turkey, makes chicken come out better.

I stuck some butternut squash and gold rush potatos from last years garden in the oven too at the same time.  Great meal with very little effor.

Woodman's picture
Woodman
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 26 2008
Posts: 1028
Plucker tool

Here's another simple plucker tool I just ran across...

http://www.powerplucker.com/index.html

 

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