Chickens and Ducks
Humanely for Food with Images
Butchering chickens and
ducks is easy once you know
chickens and ducks has to be done humanely and easily, both for
yourself and for the poultry involved. Our step-by-step guide
written by Gypsy, our resident homestead blogger on killing chickens
Next year I will be home
butchering no less than 200 ducks alone, not
counting slaughtering chickens, guinea fowl - which are great for
Japanese beetles by the way - turkeys and geese. I suspect I
disappear again for a few months.
I was talking to a few friends about butchering chickens and dressing
chickens and it was surprising that so many people that live on the
farm, really don't know how to do this, or do it with ease. It’s not
rocket science but it can be a painstaking ordeal if you don't know how
to do it right.
Butchering and Plucking Chickens
I thought I would share some of the ways I get the job done in
butchering chickens. Everyone
has their own way. Some use a chicken plucker. I don't care for these
as they leave the long "hairs" on the bird that still need to be singed
It takes no more time for me to pluck a chicken as it does the plucker
I think I can do a better, cleaner job. Some people prefer to take
their birds to a USDA inspected plant where they come out all pretty
and wrapped for the freezer. I again, do not care for this. I don't
like the way they end up butchering chickens, and I don't like my meat
its own excrement, and bleach.
Again, I think I can do a much more
humane and healthy, clean job. I have friends that will not help me
butcher because I’m so picky, my methods may not be for you.
Slaughtering Chickens: Fryers
When slaughtering chickens, especially a young fryer, you can simply
on the head and pull the hind legs. The head is very easily removed and
killing chickens this way happens so fast the bird feels nothing. Just
don't mess around with
it. Pull up fast.
From there I put the body in a pot of hot, almost boiling water for the
count of 10 (slow count) while moving it up and down so the water gets
to the skin. When the water is this hot, if you leave the
you will start to cook it. You don't want to do that.
Start with the
wing feathers, as once they cool you won't get them out. From there
move to the tail and neck, then complete the bird. This should take
under 2 minutes once you get the hang of it. I can do most in around 1
minute. The feathers just slip off.
Butchering the head of
From here I take the
bird over to the water and rinse it off. I have a
small table by an outdoor faucet so I can clean the gizzards while I
remove the organs I wish to keep. Place these aside in a clean
container and get them into the freezer or refrigerator as soon as
Do this before continuing to butcher the bird. Once gutted,
you can remove the legs. If you save the legs, make sure you get them
in the hot water as well. This will skin them so you just have to clip
off the nails and bag.
legs of the chicken
Removing the Chicken's
Slaughtering Chickens that are Older Birds
When killing chickens
that are older I take a small paring knife and
it into the bird's mouth up into the brain. This keeps it from flipping
out and getting blood all over the place like they do when the head is
removed. The bird is dead, however like all reptiles, will appear alive
for some time.
Slaughter a few chickens this way and go have a cup of coffee so
you don't have to watch the reflexes. It bothers me, even though I know
they are dead, I don't like it. So, I go have coffee and come back.
When you come back, slit the throat to drain the blood. The bird may
still flip out a little, but nothing like they would have otherwise and
the kill is instant when the brain dies. Unlike having to bleed to
are another matter. Trying to get anything into their
mouths could find you with a black eye from the wings and them with
broken wings from you trying to hold them. I sit down and hold the duck
until its quiet, then I place them between my legs where the wings are
held tightly and the bird feels calm. You don't want to excite them.
It’s not good for the meat to have all that adrenaline going, and its
Once the bird is secure, and calm, I use a very sharp knife and slit
the throat, then bend the head backwards so that the neck is broken
long before the bird bleeds to death. In this way I can assure a fast
death, and as close to a painless one as possible. After the neck is
broken the head can be removed.
If you have guardian dogs I suggest you do all this out of sight of the
dogs. You could either upset them greatly, or be giving them permission
to do what you are doing. Either way, don't let your flock dogs watch.
I also do this out of sight of other birds waiting to be slaughtered.
Again, I just don't want the karma. I don't know if they understand or
not, but if it was me, I would not want to watch.
Butchering Chickens With Respect
To me, death is a
spiritual thing. Everything in life must die.
Everything in life, must take life in some form to live. Life begets
life. We can't get around it. What we can do is respect that life. Take
care of what takes care of us. Treat your food like it will soon become
part of you, it will.
Every year around harvest season I, along with everyone I know
disappears like a hen sitting on eggs, nowhere to be found until the
is done. As most of you know, I live almost totally from what the farm
produces. I also harvest, feed and care for the farm alone. This means
a lot of work. It’s worth it. I would never live any other way. It
however, explain my occasional disappearances.
This year I put up two 30 gallon trash bags of sumac.
use this as
tea, and as about 1/2 my "flour" in cooking etc. It is more a staple in
this house then is wheat flour. I put up about 3 bags of Elderberries,
I just love Elderberries. The list goes on!
Add your Own Comments on Butchering Chickens and
have other ways for butchering chickens, ducks or other
you would like to
talk about here? Tell us what they are, how you catch them and what
works for you. Or perhaps you would like to add to the information
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