Monday, October 6

How to Butcher a chicken ( the easy way)

This is our third time and second year butchering chickens. A few months ago we butchered all the meat roosters which left us with nine hens to butcher. It takes us about twenty minutes to catch, butcher, pluck and bag a chicken. It took us much, much longer when we started.

In our house this counts as being educational. Chicken anatomy and physiology or economics or home ec. Count the chicken heads and you've got math! Chasing and catching is PE!

Six year old Douglas is our handy chicken catcher, though we all got in on the crazy, chase-a-chicken-round-the-yard thing once or twice. We use a big net. It helps. Chickens are amazingly fast once they realize their minutes are numbered.

Here we go. To butcher chickens, you will need (or at least it is helpful to have):

A big net or really quick feet
A pair of very sharp kitchen shears
A sharp chef's knife and/or boning knife
Reynolds zip lock bags that come with a sealer in quart and gallon sizes
Two work tables, one that can be nailed into
A hose
A garbage bag in a garbage can for feathers and guts
Strong wire
A spare nail
A hatchet
Baseball bat
A stove or turkey fryer base to heat up your big pot of water to 180 degrees.

First, catch your chicken:

At this point your chicken is still alive. An easy way to make a chicken docile instantly is to hold them by their ankles. Do chickens have ankles? I don't know. Just hold them right above their feet upside down.

Now there are two ways you can quickly kill your chicken. Our preferred way is to hold them upside down with one hand and whack them on the head with the baseball bat. Quick, humane, bloodless. It doesn't sound nice, I know.
It is.
It is much nicer than the stories we've all heard of chickens running around with their heads chopped off.

These fat hens were too big for that. They got up and scurried away.
Hence the noose method. Hammer your nail into the leg of your work table and make a noose with your strong wire. Slip in the alive chicken's head. Tada!

Flop the chicken up onto the table, still holding its feet.

Okay, that chicken just got its head chopped off with the hatchet. If you have a six year old boy, he probably made off with it by now. If not, toss it in the garbage can.

The chicken needs to hang upside down for a bit to let the blood drain out. My husband used an electrical staple for this purpose. Smart guy.

After you've got a few chickens hanging, wash off your workspace. Heat up your water to 180 degrees. This temperature is very important as it makes the difference between plucking being absolute misery or easy-peasy.

We use the cooking base that comes with a turky fryer.
We've tried the paraffin method and like the hot water method much better.
Unhook your chicken's foot. Uncover your hot pot of water.
Stand down wind.
Just kidding.
Stand upwind.
Dip it in.

Swish it around a bit. Pull it out. Plunge it in again.

Swish. Swish. Okay, you are done. Toss it to your wife. The one who forgot to put on an apron but is trying to look cute for her husband while plucking a chicken. Which I don't think is possible. But I try.
And, yes, I realize I look seventeen here. Sorry.
Good genetics.
At least no one has come to the door lately and asked if my parents are home.

At this point the feathers will come off very easily. It begins to resemble the whole chickens you see in the supermarket.
A little. It still has feet and chicken poo round its nether regions.

I pluck the whole thing except for round the vent (chicken poo hole end) and by the neck. There's no need as you'll see.

At this point you call call your older kids over and say, "Hey, try this, it's fun!" (Guffaw, guffaw.)
They will not be fooled and you'll soon be left to pluck alone with your thoughts of how you were once a tofu eating vegetarian.

Once plucked, Sean takes the chicken, cutting off its feet above the ankles. We decided chickens have ankles, right? Right? He cuts right above the yellow part.

Cut off the tips of their wings. There's nothing down there to eat.
Now where the chickens scrawny little head was, there is a feathery mess. Carefully slice the chicken skin around the neck below this feathery mess. There, much better.
Here's the neck, which is my grandmother's favorite part. Sean kept them to try. He once convinced me to try escargot at a fancy French restaurant we love.

Eh, I wasn't impressed.
Here's that neck again. Peel back the skin a bit and you'll find this. The crop. The crop has small stones and sand in it that grinds up what the chickens eat. Chickens don't have teeth.
If you're at our house and go hollering across the yard that a "chickens trying to bite me" don't wonder why I fall over in hysterics. Chickens are pretty harmless.

So the crop.
Cut it carefully out. Toss it in the garbage can. Want to see what your chicken has been eating. Cut it open. Kids love this part.
One of our chicken's crop was the size of a softball. We assume it must have been clogged.

At this point we heard Brutus barking, and asked each other,
"Where is Brutus?"
"Didn't you leave him inside this morning? "
"Who, me? Yes, I kept him inside."

What? Doesn't everybody's Great Dane crawl through open windows and stand on the roof?
Back to the chicken, folks. Nothing to see here.

Place your chicken like so:

Douglas is showing you how to feel the chicken to find where to cut next.

Find the end of that bone. That is where you are going to slice.

Make about a two inch horizontal slice here at the midline, from right to left between the chickens legs. Cut this very carefully cut this with the tip of your knife. You do not want to poke the guts. Eck!

This is the rear end of the chicken. Slice just where Sean is slicing. This is directly opposite where you just made that first slice at the end of the chicken's bone on the other side.

Your cut will look like this.

Fip the bird back over to that first slice you made.
Wiggle your fingers on in. Stretch it open.



Now stick your hand inside. I'm serious now. Hop on in.

And pull all the gooey goodness out.

These are the beginning of eggs. Sean says these are a delicacy in some cultures and I believe him. He's smart like that.
No, we don't eat them.

Once the guts are pulled out, you can set aside the chicken livers if you like. They aren't a big hit round here. The kids are much more partial to duck livers.
With you knife, carefully slice round from the opening where you pulled the guts from to the small sice you made on the other side. The offically makes your chicken without a rear. This is a good thing.

You can now wash out your chicken, rubbing your hands around inside and leave as is...
Because of the size of ours, we had to take out the backbone and split it for it to fit into the gallon bags we freeze the chicken in.

Which is the beginning of a really, really good recipe you can find here. Our personal favorite.

(yes, I realize I use sarcasm freely where blood and guts are concerned. So sorry. I was once a plastics nurse...)


Anonymous said...

A last picture of a roasted chicken sitting nicely on a dinner table,,would have left me feeling a little uplifted ,,,I did enjoy your sense of humor through it all.

Me said...

Anonymous, look for that in a week or so. It takes me a bit after butchering before I hunger for chicken. For now, enjoy the America's Test Kitchen link at the bottom of the post!
Thanks for stopping by!

Tonya said...

Oh my! My dh would love it if I were like you. He has always wanted chickens for eggs and to butcher. I told him, I can only do the eggs. I get so attached to animals. Yes, even chickens lol I even feel sorry for crabs and crawfish before we boil them. I know, I am very weird! LOL

Dana said...

wow. You are a stronger person than I. This was very educational and I learned something about myself in reading it: I will always remain a vegetarian!

I figure if I can't do this, then I don't deserve to eat it.
*shiver* it brings back memories of people cutting up a deer on our kitchen table when I was small. Or of one of our cows/pigs "disappearing" and then all of a sudden we're eating hamburger/sausage. I wouldn't eat it back then, and I couldn't eat it now.
Yep. Give me tofu anyday.

But I'm bookmarking this because my husband wants to learn how to do this.

Anonymous said...

I followed a link to this post from Tammy's recipes and was so glad that I did. Not only did I enjoy learning how to clean a chicken, I also loved your other blog that follows the renovation of your home. Wow! My mom and I looked through the whole thing, drooling, and missing the old Victorian that we renovated in Dundee, NY before moving to Georgia.

Thanks for giving us all a glimpse into your lives!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the pictures - we really enjoyed this post. We butcher our own chickens too, and it was neat seeing how other families do it.
One thing that always cracks me up is watching a teenage "city boy" pluck chickens for the first time. It was great - I've never seen a boy go so quickly from macho to "I'm really not a sissy but this is just nasty." LOL!

Kelley said...

That has to be one of the most interesting posts I've ever read, really! I especially enjoyed the beginnings of eggs.

It's funny that you posted this because every day my husband and I ride by a farm that has a few guineas. I mentioned that maybe one day we could have enough land to have chickens and/or guineas for eggs. This led to discussions of butchering and us pondering whether you can find directions online for butchering chickens. Well I can now tell him, yes there are directions online, complete with pictures!

Unknown said...

I knew I didnt want to check in today

Me said...

Tonya, out of a the chickens and ducks we have, only three have been granted names. They are the pets. That helps.

Me said...

Dana, we started all this so we would be able to feed our family healthier, fresher foods. I once was a vegetarian because of the practices of the meat packing industry. Then I married my husband who has a favorite scripture, "Rise up, kill and eat." LOL. The rest is history...
Blessings, Hannah

Me said...

I would love guineas for eggs too but I need to find someplace to buy them inexpensively. They really are costly compared to chickens and ducks!
Vix, I did warn you.

Blessings, Hannah

~Babychaser~ said...

This is great! I have similar pictures of the first chicken I ever took from beginning to end. I spent a summer (eh, winter) in the back country of Bolivia learning how they live as part of a missionary training program. We got to do all sort of things I'd never done. We used a broom handle to break the necks though... stand on a broom handle with your feet about shoulder width apart and slip the live chicken's neck underneath, then pull up on the feet (or ankles as you wish) until you feel the neck give. It was easy. I'd be afraid of missing with the baseball bat. :)

First time here. Found you via Tammy. I'll be looking around a bit.

rachel said...

I loved this post! Believe it or not, I cannot remember a time when I didn't know how to butcher chickens. We did it on a regular basis when I was young. And we ate the forming eggs, too. We were poor and ate anything that did not eat us first. My mom took the chicken hearts and gizzards and boiled them awhile then dropped in the livers and boiled a little while again. When these were all soft and ready to eat, she dropped in the eggs and cooked it for just a minute, then thickened it with milk and flour. Season with salt and pepper. It makes the best gravy you could imagine. We ate it over fried cornmeal mush.
Just last week I went into a butcher shop and bought a couple pounds of hearts, gizzards and liver and made a big pot of yummy gravy. I thought about asking if they would save me some half formed eggs, but didn't quite have the nerve. :)

Me said...

I enjoyed hearing about when you were little. I was thinking, as we tossed away the innards of the chickens that I was being wasteful. But I had no idea what to do with it all.

Me said...

I'll have to remember that broom trick.

Sommer said...

Now that was a fascinating post!! I liked your humor...lightened the mood a bit:-)


Lynn Hasty said...

Hannah, great information. My children all help my husband clean deer, turkey, etc, that he brings home fresh for us to eat. Am I counting it as biology? You bet! Does it make us all more appreciative of what we eat? Definitely, yes. When I look at neatly packaged meat in the grocery store, I have to wonder how the animals were treated and fed. When my husband brings meat home, I know how it has lived and eaten.


Jillian said...

Oh my goodness, this post was great! I mostly enjoyed the commentary, as I could never really butcher a chicken myself...but REALLY found myself laughing out loud at Brutus on the roof! So funny!!

Anonymous said...

Yeow...reading about butchering chickens in Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" was one thing. Seeing your images just brought it to a whole new level. At least your chickies had a happy life instead of being factory farmed! I believe if you feed, love and care for your own poultry, then it's your right to say "Off with their heads!" But I must say, I'm glad the dinner I finished before reading your post was a vegetarian one. :)

Ree said...

Oh my! I am soooo happy to be a vegetarian! :) Are there any chickens left for us to visit?

The Lockwood Family ♥ said...

Even in my morning sickness, I just LOVED this post :) My hubby will get a kick out of it too when he gets home :)Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This was really intresting... I wandered over from Tammys recipes... LOVE THE WORK YOU BOTH ARE DOING ON THE HOUSE !!!!!... LOVE THE HOUSE.... I am so envious that you have husband that is handy...
You will have to let us know how the counter tops work out... I am looking into redoing the kitchen... and I really do not like granite ... I am wondering how your blue stone works out... I have been leaning towards hardwood counters... but I am wondering how they hold up...

Great BLOG>>>


Karen G. said...

Hey Hannah,
I, being much older than you, heard stories from my mom and dad about butchering chickens with their parents on their respective farms. Not a fun job but a needful one. P.S. - we didn't eat a lot of chicken or veal (which they also butchered) ;0)

Patricia said...

Weeellll, I enjoyed your day and am quite tired now! What a lot of work! lol We couldn't have swine or fowl around our dairy so we never had chickens. I bet the boys love it. Love the great dane on the roof!

Anonymous said...

Well, we'll be doing chickens for eggs in the spring, I hope. :) I don't think we'd get away with enough chickens to make raising for meat worthwhile. But maybe in a few years?

Sarah said...

I LOVED this post! I helped a friend butcher chickens once and we had a poor headless rooster racing around the yard. The baseball bat method sounds much better! We canned the meat instead of freezing it, but if I ever do my own, I think I will freeze it as well.

Jack's Mommy said...

I LOVED this post, and just had to direct my own blog readers to here (

I'm a city girl with a country loving heart...but this is not something I could have dealt with doing. I'd much rather play with the chicken than kill're kids have strong stomachs! I've never been able to deal emotionally with watching an animal dye, no matter how good they taste.

I do like seeing that side of farm life's interesting..i've never seen a step by step of a chicken butchering. Thank you for putting the hilarious picture of brutus in the middle though, because it helped calm my tummy long enough to (bravely!) continue reading!

Anonymous said...

I am so glad you did this! I am such a visual learner, and reading just doesn't seem to cut it. We are preparing to make a change of life move to farming, so this will come in very handy. If you have any other great tips you can illustrate, it would be appreciated! Thanks for all you do!

Beck's Bounty said...

Thanks. We butchered 5 roosters a few weeks ago (our first butchering experience). Our 6 Cherubs were not nearly as enthusiastic, but we managed to get them all done and into the freezer. I love some of the ideas you (and your hubby) gave -- they will be most helpful "next time" (in the spring - we will order 25, raise them, and then butcher them for the freezer). Did your children play wiht the "claws" ? Our boys LOVED that.

What breed is this that you butchered ? (they're huge !) And how long did you raise them beforehand ?

God Bless.

Jona Giammalva said...

Incredibly interesting! I'm assuming you are a homeschooler by the way you figured your home ec., PE, and math into the process. We're in the city so I have to count going to the post office as government studies and playing Dance Dance Revolution is PE.

Thanks for sharing your chicken butchering. I think I could work up the fortitude to do that if the chickens were big enough to make it worth the effort!

Josiah and Anna said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post! I live in Mozambique, Africa, and chicken is a rare specialty! They eat the feet and all! I cannot seem to down those poor little feet myself, but I have eat the neck several times. I have watched them do part of the butchering, but I am excited to be able to show them I TOO CAN BUTCHER A CHICKEN now!!:-)(he he he!)
Thanks for your sense of humor as well.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your tutorial and it was instructive!

US Army, Afghanistan

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.

Me said...

Hannah, Awesome post, and what timing! My girls just butchered their first ever chickens yesterday. Great step-by-step pictures that you gave! I think I'll add your blog to my what-blogs-I-want-to-watch list :)

Maggie said...

I am so very much loving your blog (found it through another blog and have been lurking ever since- hope you don't mind!) but I had to applaud you on this particular post- super informative and funny! Bravo, mama!

Blessings to you and yours,

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your very instructive site. Yesterday I butchered one of my two roosters and it did not go very well. He is in the fridge but there is still one more to go. I am sure, after reading this it will be MUCH easier! Since I don't have kids with a net, I go out to the chicken house at night and grab the chicken and put him in a cage ready for the next day. I am really looking forward to chicken soup! This one is so stiff, I think I will use a pressure cooker.

Anonymous said...

Just a note about the crop... in your post, you said is store rocks, etc and grinds up food. That is what the gizzard does. The crop is just a temporary storage pouch. Food, is metered out from there down to the other digestive organs.

Anonymous said...

We decided to do away with the rooster that was a pest today and found your posting on how to take care of him. It was great and exactly what I was looking for. I love the sarcasm, it helps with the whole situation. Not big on killing animals unless it is necessary.

Mind you, this was our FIRST time butchering a chicken but have had the thought in our minds for 8 years since we first started raising them. Of course the eggs from our chickens are the BEST ever. I can't eat eggs at a restaurant when we go out for breakfast anymore.

We are going to try out the ATK recipe - yummmmm! I love those people and their techniques and recipes.

I'll post again later after we have dinner :) From my husband and I ... thank you! Leah in Washington

Anonymous said...

I love your sense of humor. Im the same way. This is my first time since I was a small child killing chickens ugh. My daughter is six and husband is well always at work so Im left to things on my own. Your page helped me remember how it needed to be done thank you tons. -Amy

Carole Gillis said...

Hi, thanks for your tutorial; it's excellent. The photos are so helpful.

We are butchering 75 chickens tomorrow afternoon, and I can't remember when I should feed them last; should I cut them off, or just feed them tomorrow like usual?

We hired a contractor for the butchering: $4.00/bird which seems pretty reasonable to me, and they come to my place and do the whole process from start to finish; I end up with bagged chickens.

Thanks again for a really useful tutorial. I'm going to check out your renovation next. (And I loved your sarcasm!)

Sandra Lundy said...

I wanted to say THANK YOU for posting this! We just butchered a dozen of our chickens this morning, using your instructions as our guide. I'm glad to say that everything went well and we are very pleased with how easy it was. Thank you again for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for doing this!!! I have butchered a few times with my inlaws. I was pregnant every time and could barely keep from throwing up. BUT my father in law sort of did it some odd way and I never really knew what we were doing. also, I like the baseball bat idea, if I have to do it myself, I'm not comfortable with a hachet. I love the photos! these really helped me!

sletarte said...

I just butchered two of the "spare" roosters today. The hens are much happier now! Thanks for your comments - sorry to not have read your post before I butchered. I didn't do the "hot water" method, so my plucking was a bit slow and I didn't hit the 20-min mark on the first, however was much faster on the second one.

My kids enjoy the fun of having the chickens as pets, so it was a bit hard on them, however my daughter dutifully brought me both roosters with tears in her eyes. By the end of the second bird, she was asking about the complete anatomy of the bird and actually seemed much better with things, having participated with me.

Anonymous said...

When we butcher hens, my wife and her folks save all of the unlaid eggs. They have done that for ages. The yolks are salvaged and mixed with flour (and whatever) and rolled out like a pie crust. The "pie crusts" are laid out to dry. When sufficiently dry, they are rolled up individually and then sliced into noodles of whatever width one chooses. Excellent eating wherever noodles are used.

WhatIfWeAllCared? said...

Love this blog! I butchered my first rooster tonight. nicked the intestines! :/

Unknown said...

I loved your website! We butchered our first chickens yesterday. I prefered the baseball bat, my husband preferred the hatchet/noose method. I have a couple questions. Do chickens always have eggs forming inside them, even when they are done laying? I thought some of my hens were done but they still had eggs in them. Also, do you know why the liver would be yellow? I didn't make broth out of that hen just in case. Thanks again for your fabulous website!

Angelique Mattin Russell said...

Your blog shows up near the top of the results when you Google "How to butcher a chicken." I'm glad it does, this is excellent info written with such good humor. I love how your whole family works together throughout the process.

I have always wanted to raise chickens for eggs (not allowed in my city), and I'm adding chickens for meat to the wish list. My husband is gifted at cutting up whole fryers and has no fear of guts, I figure this if just a few more (gross) steps.

Julie said...

Thanks for this - I am making chicken noodle soup and don't have to worry about that stupid rooster spurring me when I go in the coop. Your blog made processing a chicken idiot proof! Thanks!

d. said...

hi, jus happened across ur blog and found ur humor in a kinda gross situation wonderful! i will partake in my first butcher in only a few days and wanted to b sure i knew what was going on. and now i will! luckily i am only supposed to have to b in charge of the hot water/cold water situation, and the canning. o- and i had to feel up my girls to figure out who was no longer laying eggs. ha. do u kno much about canning the meat? my girls r a couple years old and this will b the first time i pressure cook. let alone pressure cook chicken. any hints??

WhatIfWeAllCared? said...

How do you 'feel up' a girl to see if she's still laying?

d. said...

books n such say that there are a million ways to tell if a chicken is still laying like her skin color and eyes n all this randomness. but when u have a flock of 50 r so, this wud b impossible. i believe in the old fashioned "feel her up" method. there are a set of bones on her "backside" just underneath her vent. when they stop laying regularly these bones jus close up. hold the chicken in one arm and reach carefully with the other (dont wanna get too invasive-ick). i go by if the gap btwn the bones is not over two fingers width, or suuuper flexible, they r no longer laying. -if the space is smaller than an egg, well, the egg aint gettin thru. logical rite?

i have also heard that if regularly laying they get a "river" down the fluff on the backside. not too sure about this one tho...

so, go feel up ur girls! lol.

d. said...

just an update!!! we butchered 17 hens and pressure cooked it down (45 min-4 times) and then canned 17qts of chicken and 16 pints of amazing broth(75 min-5 times). couple hens had a few small yolks inside. (two actually had eggs! -but they were egg-breakers so their time had come)
it was a long day, but even un-salted, the meat is amazingly delicious!!!

Anonymous said...

great article. I bought a plucker that will pluck 2 birds in 12 seconds. the problem I'm running is the scalding water gets pretty nasty. It takes a long time to re-heat, so can't figure out solution. help?

Momma Lisa said...

I know that this post is a toddlers age of years long, however I have to comment.

First of all, while I've longed for acreage to raise our own chickens- what chickens don't need acreage? I'm sure they need more than the postage stamp size yard we currently have. Anyway. Thanks to your post, I'm rather thankful for Sarah, the lovely Amish woman that butchers our chickens every month for us. Yes, I think I must take Sarah some cinnamon rolls. Although, I have to say, they way you wrote about it really did make it seem like that big of a deal. Then my brain starts working and the thought of the sticking of hands, and swooshing of chickens kind of becomes a little too real for me.

Secondly, my sweet seven year old boy was intently reading along with me. Do you want to know what his comment was? He said nothing until the end and he said, "Those poor eggs."

The eggs? Seriously? Well, it is time for me to get my chicken- that Sarah so graciously defeathered and butchered for me- in the oven.

foreverautumn said...

Thanks for the blog with pictures on How To Butcher a Chicken. While my husband and I have both helped pluck feathers we hadn't a clue about the rest. Now we do. Next Friday, guess what we will be doing? Yep, Gonna put some chickens in the freezer.

Debbie's L'Bri said...

Some of my kids love butchering chickens. I only like the wrapping for freezer part. We skin ours.

Liz said...

I was so happy to find your site. This year my husband and I decided we needed to raise our own chickens for meat and eggs. We used to do this years ago when our children were small but then quit as the children grew up and moved out. I needed a refresher course on butchering and was so happy to find your site while searching the net for info. Our youngest son and oldest grandson will be helping me today.
It was also so refreshing to read about you and your family and that you are raising up a Godly family. May God Bless you in everything you do.
Thanks for the wonderful site.
Liz B.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing. Not only did I learn how to butcher our chickens, I read a beautiful story. It leaves me feeling as though I came to your home and visited. The music was a joy and set the tone. Made the process feel less barbaric I think. Really cool. Thanks.

Anonymous said...


I am going to need a great dane and a chicken Now.


Seriously though, Thanks for this. I love Chicken, i am not sure i wanna go this far though. LOL. i bet this smels pretty Gnarly when it's all going on , i can handle all kinds of sights but smells really get to me. I am thinking i'd need an additional bucket for the operation.

Joe Cutting said...

Thank you for the great step by step directions! I have butchered chickens before but it has been about 20 years. This was a great refresher for me, and great info for my wife and 9 year old daughter whom have never done it before. My 15 year old Culinary studying son grossed out LOL! Thank you again!

Anonymous said...

Your other chickens will eat them. It won't make cannibal chickens. They only pick each other to death or turn cannibalistic if their space is too small or there isn't enough protein in their diet. Cats are obligate carnivores so if you have cats and give them their pickings it will be better for them than what goes into those bags of cat food. Dogs will pick through too. Save feathers to eventually make a pillow.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I were wondering how Grandma use to kill and pluck her chickens. We both said it can't be that hard!!! Gladly we foung your page and we took it serious. We appricate your lightness, it made us laugh. The pictures were great for educating and we will have fried chicken Monday night if all goes well. :]

Qfarms said...

very informative article about butchering of chicken really liked

Konaskin said...

Absolutely LOVED this post, aside from your wonderful flare in making this subject, which could be distasteful to some, filled with humor, you have also made it step by step simple.

I am about to self butcher our first meat chickens, I should rephrase this. The meat birds are not our first but it is the first time I will be doing this, completely myself. Previously we sent them out to be butchered and it has always just felt like something was missing in the experience if that makes any sense.

So I have been looking to fine tune what I already know, the butchering doesn't bother me I am a hunter and we feed our dogs raw, as well I am a vet tech. My husband says I am the only woman he knows who can go from shooting a picture of a dear and directly follow that up with shooting the dear...personally I think he makes it sound like I am callous but I am far from it. I respect the fact that I am fortunate enough to be able to be somewhat self self sufficient in feeding my family and not having to deal with the grotesqueness of the food industry.

Anyway your blog besides being a pure pleasure to read was so helpful and actually made easy and clear, where some other resources just confused and complicated the process.

I am filled with renewed confidence and in the morning July 8 2012 I will be butchering the cockerels in our flock....OK I am going to start with 5 then see how efficient I am. Thank You Hannah Blessings I will be following your blog with anticipation Lisa from Canada

Konaskin said...

Absolutely LOVED this post, aside from your wonderful flare in making this subject, which could be distasteful to some, filled with humor, you have also made it step by step simple.

I am about to self butcher our first meat chickens, I should rephrase this. The meat birds are not our first but it is the first time I will be doing this, completely myself. Previously we sent them out to be butchered and it has always just felt like something was missing in the experience if that makes any sense.

So I have been looking to fine tune what I already know, the butchering doesn't bother me I am a hunter and we feed our dogs raw, as well I am a vet tech. My husband says I am the only woman he knows who can go from shooting a picture of a dear and directly follow that up with shooting the dear...personally I think he makes it sound like I am callous but I am far from it. I respect the fact that I am fortunate enough to be able to be somewhat self self sufficient in feeding my family and not having to deal with the grotesqueness of the food industry.

Anyway your blog besides being a pure pleasure to read was so helpful and actually made easy and clear, where some other resources just confused and complicated the process.

I am filled with renewed confidence and in the morning July 8 2012 I will be butchering the cockerels in our flock....OK I am going to start with 5 then see how efficient I am. Thank You Hannah Blessings I will be following your blog with anticipation Lisa from Canada

Marina said...

Thanks for the valuable information. Most of all, thanks for the laughs. This blog post was hilarious. I can't wait to check out the rest of your blog.

Sues said...

Thank you for great instructions and leaving us encouraged that we can do this ourselves. It is also important, to us, that it is done in a humane way. You covered it all very well with just the right amount of humor! Obviously you and your family have a great thing going, keep up the Godly work!

Schranz Nut and Honey Farm

Anonymous said...

I don't know....our kid named all our chickens. Can you eat a chicken that has a name???

But that rooster has got to go!

Valerie said...

We will be butchering three roosters in a few weeks. This will be our first time. Someone mentioned they should be separated from the hens for about a month otherwise they will have a bad taste. Please, need more info...separate or not?!

Anonymous said...

If you put them upside down in a traffic cone, and slit their throats it is mostly painless and your chicken will bleed out better, and you won't have so much blood in the meat(a higher quality of meat if you ask me)

Jean said...

I have butchered chickens and cleaned them before, and one of the things we used to do was called singeing. You will find after plucking that there are fine feathers that you can't get a grip on, but you can burn off by using a barbecue butane lighter. I really enjoyed the article and admire that you are raising your family the way that you are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your knowledge! Butchered my first big rooster (8 lbs) last week 'n took just over 2 hours! Was looking for additional tips to reduce that to hopefully less than an hour:) Water temp you gave should help lots, mine was closer to 130 degrees, and removing innards should go quicker with your very helpful pics. Great job on your post, humor, outlook, and parenting:) Tony R. - East Tenn.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your brutally honest and graphic step by step instructions. I appreciate your sarcastic humor. I now know that I certainly will be giving my roosters to a friend!

Annette said...

Thank you for posting this. The pictures help so much and the narrative super funny! We have a rooster we will need to slaughter soon and it will be our first attempt!

Anonymous said...

Thank you. I only had one rooster from my flock to cull but this made it easier and more practical for everyone. Particularly when you get over killling something with your bear hands, it's something I will never get used to - but I've got to eat and I can't keep the roos.

Karen said...

I wonder if you can answer my question… We have chickens that we use for eggs, but recently a raccoon somehow reached in the pen (or the chicken reached out his head…), and that was the end of him. It was cold that night, and we found the headless chicken the next morning frozen in his tracks. Our 9 year old daughter thinks of the girls as her pets, so she really didn't want us eating her, but I know what good meat we would be throwing away! So, our compromise was to stick her in the deep freeze and forget about it. That was 2 weeks ago. Can I still thaw her out and drain out the blood, and proceed as you describe? I would like to start over each year with new layers and butcher last year's hens, but we would have to get past these couple of obstacles first (the butchering and the loving/eating our pets). Advice is much appreciated!!!

MtnLady said...

Great tutorial with photos to each step....very helpful.
Thank you!

rustie said...

Excellent cite. thank you for the knowledge refreshment, and congratulations on making a wonderful life for yourselves, and your children, your lives appear to be the way lives should appear to be.

Dan Lauerman said...

Hello and thanks for the wonderful guide in butchering a chicken. I used it to butcher some chickens we've raised for the first time. It was quite the experience and your post helped me get through some of the parts thanks to all of the pictures. If you are interested in reading about my reaction to it, my post is at The First Butcher

Take care!

Anonymous said...

Thankyou for your simple & humurous lesson on how to deal with the chook correctly. I am 53 & have vague memories of me with my Dad as a very young girl dispatching chickens. I couldn't remember if the hot water came first or the gutting! We have a couple of old layers that need to go & we want to treat them humanely & with care. Great kids by the way, should be more like them. Lee M C.

Anonymous said...

Great web page! Thanks for many very helpful suggestions. Especially enjoyed your humor.

For the dispatching, we tie one end of a length of rope that has a noose on the other end to our very substantial clothesline pole -- the horizontal part -- and let the noose end tighten around both of the chicken's feet. Then firmly grasping the neck just below the head between thumb and first finger, we pull down, and pop! Chicken's spine is severed and it is dead. There may be a few postmortem muscle spasms, but it dies quickly and relatively painlessly. We then use a sharp knife to take the head off and allow the blood to drain. -- Dave, Colorado.

Anonymous said...

I have never killed a chicken before, I have assisted in the whole butchering thing but never actually ended a chicken's life. So I set out to do this, I had the whole set up all ready, hot water, cone, sharp knife, evisceration station, all clean and ready, chicken in the cage, watching me warily. Had the chicken head down in the cone(that I made myself, athankyou)said a little prayer and... I hesitated and he jumped out ran around a bit, jumped on a box that had another chicken in it, that chicken ran around squawking... bottom line, I just couldn't do it. I may be daunted but I'm not dismayed. I need a less slit-the-throaty-way to dispatch a chicken.

Heather Foxman said...

this was so helpful! I just had to put down a hen that was mauled by a hawk but still alive. It was my first chicken butchering and went just great. Your pictures and comments helped so much - I did it! --Heather, Middleton WI