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Basic Lesson Number 68 Butchering and Processing Chicken

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  • Basic Lesson Number 68 Butchering and Processing Chicken

    Basic Lesson Number 68

    Butchering and Processing Chicken

    If you raise your own meat chickens then chances are you already know how to butcher them for your family. For those who have never done it, but are considering raising meat chickens, then this is a process you will need to learn. Learning how to butcher or dress meat is another one of those tasks we should all educate ourselves in, so hopefully this thread will help you.

    I. Work Station and Tools Needed:

    a. A work station set up. (You could make your own table using a saw horse and boards it you wanted to.) If possible, having an outside sink, to save a lot of time. Make sure you have shade cover for nasty weather. If you use the hot water method to remove the feathers, you will need a source of heat and large pot with hot water.

    b. Water hose with an attachment to change the settings.

    c. Apron and rubber gloves/boots. You will need these do to the amount of water that is sued during the butcher process.

    d. Sharp Boning Knife: I have many friends who raise and butcher their own poultry meat and they all say the knife to use is a good boning knife. It should be made of High-carbon 420 stainless-steel which resists rust and stains. The knife should be full tange from the tip to the end of the handle which gives balance and weight. It should have a sharpe edge that you can re-sharpen at home.

    e. Gut Bucket: You need separate buckets/trash cans for the Guts, feathers, and head of the chicken.

    f. Pots with lids;
    for neck-bones and the edible internal organs such as livers, heart, and gizzards.

    g. A large ice chest: This will be filled with cold water and ice so you can toss the birds into once they are processed. A larger ice chest can hold about 15 large birds on the day of butchering.

    h. A large steaming pot of water. (Used to pull feathers off the bird). I use an outdoor propane pot cooker that is used for frying turkeys. My pot holds 12 gallons of hot not boiling water.

    II. Knife Sharpening:

    a. Butchers Steel: I use a Butchers Steel rod to keep my knife sharpen while using it. What this tool does is repair damage to a knife that already has a sharp edge. If you look at a freshly sharpened knife under a magnifying glass and then used it to prepare a meal and looked at it again when you were done, you would see many imperfections in the blade. These imperfections will dramatically reduce the performance of the knife that is still actually sharp. The butchering steel removes the imperfections and gives you the full benefit of the already sharp knife.

    b. Knife Sharpener: This is either a manual or electric sharpener. Yhe manual way is to get the correct angle about 23 degrees and pass the blade edge over an old fashion whetstone. You have to do this many times on both sides of the blade.

    c. Using an electric sharpener; allows the stone to turn at the correct angle so the blade is ground down on both sides at the same time. You will need to sharpen your knives after about 10 chickens butchered.

    III. Processing the Chicken:

    a. You grab the chicken by its feet and hold them up side down. This calms the bird before you go to the next step

    b. I always use a hacket to cut the head off of the chicken using a stump as a chopping block. I allow the body to do it's death dance. This allows the blood to run out faster then any other way. You can process more than one chicken at a time.

    c. After the chicken(s) is finish with its dance, you can start either with the field dressing of the body cavity or pluck the feathers.

    d. Field Dressing Chicken: Take a small bladed knife, about 4 inches. Make a cut from just below the breast bone, down to the tail. Be careful to cut only the skin and not the internal organs. Now holding the feet up, (I tie them to a post) pull out all the organs out and dump the ones not to be eaten into the gut bucket. Pull out the lungs and dispose of them. You should keep the gizzard, liver, heart, and neck bone.

    e. Feather plucking: With the body cavity empty, rinse with fresh water, then place it in the hot water pot for about 30 seconds. Pull it out and begin plucking the feathers. Try to put the feathers into a bucket to keep the mess down. You should with practice, pluck a chicken of all its feathers within 10 minutes.

    f. Finish Processing:
    With all the feathers off you can now use a candle to burn off the the pin feathers that are left on. You can then cut up the chicken into pieces for what ever type of cooking you want to do.

    g. Final Storage: You can do several things, with cut up pieces - smoking, cooking, then canning, or freezing.


    1. The chicken is the first live stock most people get to learn how to adopt to the farming life style. The chick gives you eggs almost daily, meat , and feathers for padding. They are fun to watch and are very easy to care for.

    2. There is many breeds that have been breed, just for climatic changes, whither its very cold or very hot, you can find a breed that works in your area.

    3. I will post this year instructions, on the building of a chicken coop for under $300.00, medical treatment you may be required to do, to long term storage of eggs.

  • #2
    My next processing thread will be on Turkey or Deer. I want to take some photos to with it.


    • #3
      I quit plucking about 13 years ago and now I just pull off the skin with feathers intact. It seems to be faster.

      Is there a benefit to plucking over skinning?
      Would like your opinion.



      • #4
        Depends upon what you want whether you pluck or skin. Plucking leaves the skin intact, giving you a natural covering for roasting plus that delicious crispy skin. Also the skin gives you fat in addition to the fat deposits inside the chicken. If you wish to fry the chicken with a coating, frying with the skin on keeps the flesh more moist. You don't HAVE to eat the skin after you cook it.
        Skinning and disposing of the skin (as dog or cat food) is faster but you must take more care in cooking the chicken to keep it from drying out. And you lose the feathers as a possible insulators in clothing or as bed making material. Feathers can be used as guides for arrows and as ink pins as well.

        If every scrap of food is needed, pluck, cook and eat skin and all.
        If you don't want the skin, peel it off after cooking and feed it to your dog/cat. They will love you for it.
        Last edited by ZAGran; 01-24-2015, 01:16 AM. Reason: spelling


        • #5
          Originally posted by ZAGran View Post
          the skin gives you fat in addition to the fat deposits inside the chicken. If every scrap of food is needed, pluck, cook and eat skin and all.
          If you are in a survival situation, you need all the fat you can get. So always keep the skin on.