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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Another reply-Humane butchering

Mmmm chicken! 001Image by TenderBranson via Flickr

Well 6512 and growing, has posted another chicken question and I will do my best again to reply. The question is about humanly butchering a chicken. So here we go....

Chance and I had always used a stump with two nails and an axe for butchering our chickens.This is the way we did it at my Dad's house so we were following tradition yet again. I also learned how to butcher a chicken by simply holding on to the bird by the wings and slitting its neck with a very sharp knife,not my favorite way but in a pinch it works. This way takes two people,one to hold and one to cut.

Last year when Chance and I were asked to teach our butchering class it was requested we use a Killing Cone/Funnel because it is thought to be more humane.We had never heard of this cone and had to do some web surfing to figure it all out. This is what we found.

First, the cones are steep in price to buy one which would have cut into the small amount of money we would be making by teaching our class. Chance is a handy guy and started really looking at how the cones were made and came up with his own pattern to make one. Here is the blog entry we did on building your own. Instead of paying 60 or so dollars you should be able to build one for around $20 total by using Chance's how to. That blog posting is our number one search that brings people here to Hrafinstaad.

We also discovered we like using the cone because it simplifies everything and makes things go quicker.

To use the cone you tie your chickens feet together,turn your bird upside down and slide it into the cone. Turning a chicken upside down kind of calms the bird down and the snugness of the cone also helps it. You still have to stand close by to where you have hung your cone,the bird will try and wiggle out.
So there you are with the bird in the cone with its head sticking out the end.The next step is to take a hold of the chickens neck and gently pull it our straight and cut. PLEASE the most humane thing is to make sure your knife is VERY SHARP.( Chance keeps our knives razor sharp so much so that they will slice a sheet of paper with ease.) The sharp knife will insure you only have to do one slice.
Now the next part is to bleed out your bird. Once you have cut your chickens neck it will flop around a bit inside the cone,the eyes may blink at you and sometimes you will hear growling or gurgling.All of these are simply the life going out of the bird, all of it is the body's natural process and only lasts a moment or two. You can take the bird out of the cone and hold it by its feet while it is going through this if you are worried about to much flopping around. Once your bird has gone limp you will hang it by its feet someplace to let it finish bleeding out.

Finally you are ready to pluck and gut your bird, a blog entry I have yet to figure out how to write.The plucking is easy but the gutting is all done by feel and I have just not found the words to describe it well. Google and Youtube are your best bets on those.

Once you get online and start looking at the millions of ways to butcher a chicken out there it is a bit crazy.For every culture on the Earth there is a different way of doing it. Chance and I are now Cone users,it is easy and dose seem to be a more humane way of doing it.We are still taking a life to further our own but the doing of it is swift.

Another point about humanely butchering is to do the deed where your other hens can not see it happening. There is an old farmers tale that the other hens you are keeping won't lay if they see their flock mates going to the soup pot.I am not to sure this is true but I don't test it either for two reasons.One is how un-nerving for the chickens being kept, and two I want my hens to lay so why test it.

I am going to bring up our boys and butchering at this point because it may be a question someone may have. We always give the boys the choice to help/watch when we butcher. Chance and I choose to do this but do not feel we should force it upon the boys. So far Issac the eldest has manged to be gone when we have butchered,not too sure why but he's been gone never the less. As for Sol the younger one,he is our sensitive soul but a curious fellow.So far Sol has been home on butchering days but will not watch the killing of the birds. Sol is interested once we have plucked the birds and are gutting them.Like Sol many people end up being interested in this part because it is fascinating how all living creatures insides are arranged pretty much the same and the organs are too.We no longer Homeschool Sol but with both boys we have always tried to use moments like this to talk to the boys about the world around them. Since both Chance and I have the attitude that butchering is a part of the life cycle and are calm and mellow about it we have seen that both of the boys have this same mind set.Butchering has also given us as a family the opportunity to really talk about where our food comes from and the choices we can make as a family regarding the sources our food comes from.
6512 and growing, I hope this helped you out with your concerns.Thanks for starting a conversation and feel free to keep posting your questions, I like it!

Everyone else, I am working on a posting about Potatoes and will hopefully get to it later today.
My Mother is on to me,she knows I have her Chicken planter and she is plotting her revenge so it is game on! I had better make sure our doors are locked.What else?....The sun is radiant this morning, I have the day off of work and will be baking later on.I also wish I had a good camera to take some better photos of our newest garden beds.I look at them and I am so pleased but getting them to look right in photos is proving to be trickier than I thought.
Enjoy your day.

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  1. I couldn't get the link on how to make a chicken culling cone. Can you please let me know when it is working again?

  2. Ritani, I don't know why the links on my blog are not working.I will send you an email with a link.

    Just so everyone knows anyone can search my blog by using the Search this blog box located on the upper right side of my blog.

  3. I just came back to this Rois. Thank you.
    We just got some barred rock and orpington babies. The kids are having a ball with them. And incidentally, my dad's name is Isaac and his brother is Solomon. Very biblical, right?