Round Table Farm

Donkeys, Goats, Books and Chickens

Chicken Workshop

Chicken secure in a homemade ‘chicken cone’.

What did we do for My Main Man’s birthday? We attended a chicken workshop, hosted by Richard of One Little Farm, where we finally learned how to properly kill, pluck, and clean a chicken. As many of you know, we butcher a few of our goats a year, so you would think that we wouldn’t have any problems putting a few of our chickens in the freezer each year. However, we had heard all sorts of horror stories about removing the feathers. So M3 signed us up for this workshop on his birthday. Hmm… yes, I do wonder what he will have in mind for my birthday.

The pictures are not meant to offend or gross out anyone, so if the simple thought of processing a chicken makes you squeamish, you may want to pass on this particular post.

Richard showed us how to

Feathers and other unwanted parts are composted to be used in the garden next year.

make a simple chicken killing cone. The purpose of the killing cone is to hold the chicken securely upside down for the slaughter. This cone is made out of a plastic gallon jug. The neck of the jug is widened and the bottom is cut off.

The major thing we learned from this experience was that removing the feathers was way easier than we expected. We had heard the following:

  • Pulling feathers out is tedious and difficult
  • Sometimes a special feather removal tool is needed
  • Heated chicken feathers stink

We learned that in processing one chicken at a time (that way the chickens don’t have time to cool after their dunking), the feathers come out really easily. No special tools were needed. While I could smell the heated feathers, the scent was no worse than giving my dog a bath.

Having removed the tail and tail glands, the feet are removed.

Processing from there went pretty quickly. The head can be removed before or after dunking. Once the feathers had been removed, we moved onto removing the glands along the back just above the tail (something we didn’t know about before). The feet were removed, followed by removing the neck while trying not to cut the crop.

For hens, the opening to the body cavity from the backside was far larger then on roosters. Some of the fat was removed first, setting aside to be made into chicken broth. Then, using one hand, the organs were carefully scooped out. We had to be especially careful to not burst the gall bladder, as the juices contained inside would taint the meat. For the hens, we found several partially formed eggs and 1 complete egg fit for the fridge. Performing this step on the one rooster we processed was much more difficult because of the much smaller opening to the body cavity.

At the end of the workshop, we had processed 4 chickens. Richard was an excellent instructor and it was a bonus to have him all to ourselves. This fall, we plan to put some our extra roosters in the freezer.

Chicken enchiladas

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