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June 10, 2008 12:20 PM   Subscribe

How to Butcher a Chicken. From killing to plucking to gutting and freezing, Herrick Kimball takes the budding poultry farmer step by step through the process.
posted by Chrischris (34 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
There Will Be Chicken Blood: The gritty truth about urban farming
posted by homunculus at 12:40 PM on June 10, 2008


Very informative post, but my weirdo alarm wouldn't let me read too much of it.
posted by jsavimbi at 12:43 PM on June 10, 2008


Imagine your sweet, kind, grey-haired grandmother. Now picture that she has just picked up two live chickens by the neck, one in each hand, and with a flick of her wrists, their necks are broken and their lifeless bodies hang limply. This is my youth.

I also recall once, I was probably 12 years old, going back to the kitchen for a second helping of yellow rice, and, upon lifting the pot lid, seeing two yellow chicken feet sticking out of the rice. That scared the shit out of me.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 12:44 PM on June 10, 2008


Also, if you think butchering your own chickens is too gruesome, please take an afternoon to tour a commercial chicken processing plant to see how the assembly-line butchery works.
posted by breaks the guidelines? at 12:47 PM on June 10, 2008


straight dope had to get in on the act today, too. i like the part about foie gras.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 12:48 PM on June 10, 2008


Imagine your sweet, kind, grey-haired grandmother. Now picture that she has just picked up two live chickens by the neck, one in each hand, and with a flick of her wrists, their necks are broken and their lifeless bodies hang limply. This is my youth.

Your last name doesn't happen to be Schrute, does it?
posted by TungstenChef at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


I misread that link as 'How to Butcher Children'. That would have been a much more interesting article.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:50 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


Obligatory Werner Herzog quote:

“Look into the eyes of a chicken and you will see real stupidity,” Herzog has said. “It is a kind of bottomless stupidity, a fiendish stupidity. They are the most horrifying, cannibalistic and nightmarish creatures in the world.”
posted by Burhanistan at 1:12 PM on June 10, 2008 [3 favorites]


Good link! I'm a big believer in being intimate with your food, being honest about where it comes from, blah blah blah. I don't raise poultry myself, but this guy's posts are really interesting - it's weird how quickly it stops looking like animal and starts looking like meat (here's the post about the initial slaughtering/processing).

I especially like how he's rigged up all this stuff to make the process smoother - a homemade chicken plucker, a homemade scalder, a homemade irrigating lung scraper. He's like a cheerful, ever-tinkering Farmer Hoggett, only with more blood.
posted by peachfuzz at 1:25 PM on June 10, 2008


Just skin 'em.
It takes about 10 seconds per bird and you don't have all that stinky, foul smelling scalding water and a mess of wet feathers. I don't understand these stupid pluckers who make a big plucking mess with the plucking machines and the plucking feathers all over the plucking place, just skin the cluckers. There's no sense plucking cluckers when you can just skin the fuckers.
posted by Floydd at 1:32 PM on June 10, 2008 [4 favorites]


Just skin 'em.

What??? How the fuck am I supposed to make god damn fried chicken if there is no skin? BLASPHEMY.
posted by spicynuts at 1:35 PM on June 10, 2008


But, thankfully, my son is not an average modern boy. He has no problem with this part of the process. In fact, he was chatting with the birds and contentedly singing songs from Vacation Bible School while slitting the throats.

bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves
we will come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves
posted by pyramid termite at 1:39 PM on June 10, 2008 [2 favorites]


There will be blood........I am looking forward to building a chicken coop next summer at my mother's farm so I actually appreciate this information and do look forward to communing with the age old practice of killing my own food on occasion. I work with horses, so I certainly understand what it means to put something out of its misery. Indeed, just the other weekend I had to hastily call upon a vet to put a horse down for tearing its own damn leg off. Enough said, we live in a clean, safe, hypodermic needle of a world sometimes and we forget how bad ass life was, oh , say, about 100 years ago. When, if your father ever caught you waving your hands around at the sight of blood he would smack you up side the head and say get over it.
posted by Viomeda at 1:39 PM on June 10, 2008


my ridge-mama best friend only has one thing to add: do it naked (well, except boots). it just makes cleaning up SOOOOOO much easier.

yes, there is photographic evidence. no, i'm not linking it here.
posted by CitizenD at 1:56 PM on June 10, 2008


.. alright, but how does one glove bone a chicken?
posted by ruelle at 2:00 PM on June 10, 2008


Chicken Tractor... Chicken Tractors
posted by Huplescat at 2:12 PM on June 10, 2008


This is great! I can't wait to go out and murder something!
posted by turgid dahlia at 2:38 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is great! I can't wait to go out and murder something that I have bred since it was little!
posted by criticalbill at 2:48 PM on June 10, 2008


I bought four "pullets" from a local farmer who had free-range chickens. Two turned out to be roosters, so once they started crowing and fighting, I had to do the deed. This blog was tremendously helpful for this first time (sub)urban chicken farmer.

I now have two laying hens, and two pullets, bought pre-sexed from the local feed store.

The best advice from the blog (other than the chicken tractor - something I built for mine) is the killing cone. So much easier than the axe method, and it bleeds them out properly.

Seriously though, if you like eggs and have even a small amount of yard, free ranging your own laying chickens has got to be the most amusing, rewarding way of quickly growing your own protein.
posted by tomierna at 2:55 PM on June 10, 2008


I have vivid memories of helping my family butcher chickens when I was young. At the age of 5 and 6, my sister and I were responsible for peeling the talons off the chicken feet and collecting the heads before the dogs could get to them. Uggg, even to this day I can still see those cold, beady, lifeless eyes staring at me.
posted by chicken nuglet at 3:47 PM on June 10, 2008


This is great! I can't wait to go out and murder something that I have bred since it was little so I can eat the best tasting chicken ever!
posted by Floydd at 4:07 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


So who here plans to create the 21st Century's first Mike the Headless Chicken?
posted by christopherious at 4:11 PM on June 10, 2008


I agree with Herzog, for real. When I see a chicken, even one in a factory farm, my instinctive reaction isn't "aww, it doesn't deserve to die". It's more along the lines of "IT'S MOVING! KILL IT! KILL IT NOW!" (I was never really a "bird person".)
posted by StrikeTheViol at 4:36 PM on June 10, 2008


From talk.bizarre in 1995: Misery Chicken.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:40 PM on June 10, 2008



What are we supposed to do with that?

Eat it.

Eat it? Fucker's alive!

...

I'm starving. How can we make it die?

You've got to throttle them. Withnail, I think you ought to kill it instantly in case it starts trying to make friends with us.

posted by chuq at 5:24 PM on June 10, 2008


How DO you kill a chicken humanely
posted by Citizen Premier at 6:43 PM on June 10, 2008


Thanks, Chrischris -- good information and an interesting find. I particularly like his essay on making garlic powder.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:51 PM on June 10, 2008


I’ve killed and butchered a chicken or three and I didn’t like it, but I like to eat chicken and anyone who eats meat needs to come to grips with the fact that meat once had eyes and a heart and looked around at the world.

I put a lot of energy into working my way up to killing my first chicken. It took hours of careful planing and a lot of stops and starts to get ready to get real about killing that rooster but Connie backed me up the whole way and I couldn’t have done it without her.

I tied his feet to a springy, low hanging limb over the block so I could cut his head off and let him bounce back up to hang and thrash around and bleed out. So I have the rooster’s neck on the block and the hatchet raised and, at the last split second, Connie screams “No! Don’t do It!”. So we go back into conference. Meanwhile the rooster is hanging upside down by his feet under the old oak tree in the front yard.
posted by Huplescat at 8:45 PM on June 10, 2008


Back in the days when you could still burn leaves in your own Norman Rockwell front yard, I recall my dad and grandpa butchering chickens by cutting their heads off. You know that ol' saying about running around like a chicken with its head cut off? They really do. I remember retrieving them from almost a block away.
posted by RavinDave at 9:49 PM on June 10, 2008


From talk.bizarre in 1995: Misery Chicken.

By the Albert Speer of Chicken Farming.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:10 AM on June 11, 2008


I personally think that everyone who eats chicken on a weekly (or more, as many do) basis should have to kill at least ONE chicken in their lives. And gut it, prepare it, etc.

Call it respect for one's dinner. One time isn't going to hurt you.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:18 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


it's a damn good thing i don't eat whale meat, chuckdarwin
posted by pyramid termite at 1:07 PM on June 11, 2008


"This is Jarvis...where we make things happen."

Nothing says "mmm mmm fresh" like the bung dropper.

Or how about this?

Remember folks, they're making things happen!

No go make a sandwich.
posted by dasheekeejones at 3:58 AM on June 12, 2008


Oh yea and the little "windows media" icon? Ya might not want to click on that for any of these products.
posted by dasheekeejones at 4:00 AM on June 12, 2008


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