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Set Everything Up and Begin
Photo © Lauren Ware
This tutorial shows you how to process your own chickens for meat. These could be breeds specifically designed for meat production, or laying hens that are old and no longer laying. The process is the same. It’s also similar for turkeys and other poultry.
The first step is to have your processing station set up. You will need:
- Knives. 2 or more, very sharp, 4-6” in length.
- Killing cone. A special metal cone for poultry; find it at hatcheries or farm supply stores.
- Buckets and/or pails. You’ll need a bucket under the killing cone for catching the blood and feathers and one for the guts and other discarded pieces.
- Water. A steady supply of fresh water, such as that from a garden hose, is necessary. You’ll be rinsing your tools, hands, and the bird after every step.
- Gloves. Optional, but makes life a lot nicer.
- Old clothes. You’ll be getting messy.
- Table. A table covered with a tarp is needed to eviscerate and process the bird.
- Scalding Tank. You need a VERY large stockpot or turkey fryer, filled with water, over a burner. We found a turkey fryer that comes with a propane burner, connected to a tank of propane, to work well for us. The pot needs to be large enough to dunk the birds in with enough room to swirl them around a little bit. This is critical for proper scalding, which makes plucking easier.
- Thermometer. For taking the scalding water temperature.
Cooler with ice/water. When you’re done processing the birds, you’ll place them in the cooler to chill for a few hours.
- Paper towels.
- Cutting board.
- Zip-close plastic bags for storage. One to two gallons in size is ideal for chickens.
Go ahead and grab your first bird. Hold the bird by the feet and let it hang upside down. This calms them as the blood rushes to their head. Place the bird in the killing cone.