Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rooster Roast How to Butcher a Chicken

We butchered our first farm chickens this morning. It's something I've been wanting to learn for so long, and not really something that I've wanted to experiment with a whole lot. We selected 2 roosters who have been getting "hen-pecked" and decided to put them in the pot.

Brave Tim, woofer extrordinaire, agreed to do the nasty deed of chopping the heads off. I thought he did a great job of it. We decided at first to try wringing the neck, then chopping it off. With all the flopping around it seemed a little gruesome, so the second bird I held on the block while he found the neck and the head was off with two quick strokes. I wasn't quite prepared however for all the flapping around after the fact, the bird was so calm before the head came off. We all got sprayed in blood and I've learned to keep a better grip on those powerful wings for next time. We dipped the birds in a big pot of boiling water then hung them on the clothesline to pluck out all the feathers.

So many things I learned! For one thing, it's not necessary to pluck the difficult wing tip feathers cause you cut the wing off at the first joint later anyway. Also, that dead chicken smell really hangs around, I'm so thankful I don't work in a chicken factory. We brought the plucked birds over to Grams house and begged her instruction, she was so hilarious. Of course, we didn't know to singe the hairs off the body with a bit of burning newspaper first. Then, the first cut went above the asshole ("it's not a vent, it's an asshole!") and the breast bone had to be lifted to make room for digging in and pulling the guts out. Unpleasent indeed! I was super paranoind about busting the bile sac open, small green bean shaped thing. It would wreck the whole bird if I did. Tim and I managed to pull all the guts out, after Grams showing us how on the first bird. Then the asshole was cut out, the neck trimmed, the esophagus and other tubing removed, the lungs scraped off the back bone (paper towel in hand is great for the really slippery parts), the oil gland on the top of the tail removed, the big crop taken out up by the neck. Oh yeah, that's another things I learned, to starve the chicken before killing it so the crop isn't so full of food. Grams said she's the best gizzard cleaner in all of Alberta and showed us her expertice. It was truely educational.

The whole experience confirmed in my mind that you should throw out the book and beg, plead, or badger someone into showing you how. It really is the only way. That's why I love being a woof host. There are so many things we've had to learn the hard way, it is such a joy for me to show other people the shortcuts we've learned and share the wonderful farming life that we live. I wish I had been smart enough to do some woofing myself before starting my farm adventure. It's something I still hope to do someday.


  1. Killing chickens/roosters sounds like quite the adventure indeed! Did we eat those birds on Saturday?

  2. We just did the same thing at our blot this past Saturday. I hadn't cleaned a chicken in more than 20 years but I watched a quick YouTube video and went to town. I didn't know the burning newspaper trick so we ended up just skinning the chicken since we were stewing it anyway. Great story though - we laughed!!


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