Monday, October 8, 2012

Pastured Poultry Processing (no bloody pics)

We raised our first crop of meat chickens this summer. 21 Cornish X Rocks from Welp Hatchery made it to 8 weeks of age out of the 25 shipped. These birds grow fast - I mean really fast! We kept them on pasture for the last 4 weeks of their lives, but they still managed to wolf down 7 bags of feed in 8 weeks time overall. I hope to raise a little corn to offset some of the feed next year, and  we plan on raising 3 sets for a total of 75 meat chickens.

Anyway, I (Dad) want to share with you our slaughter set up so you can see how simple it can be. No actual slaughter will be shown so you can comfortably show this post to anyone.

First, you see our Chicken Tractor. It is made from split 1x6, PVC, and lots of chicken wire and gorilla glue.

Next we come to the holding cage. We take 5 chickens out of the tractor at a time and place them here before killing. They are not in sight of the killing cone or the tractor. I try to keep them as calm as possible.

The killing cone is just a 1-gallon window wash jug with the bottom and part of the top cut out. I screwed it to a piece of lumber and screwed the whole thing to a tree so I can catch the blood on wood shavings.

This little contraption is just a weight that I hang around the neck to keep the head down. I only used it about twice - if you pet the chicken just a little it will keep its neck down.

I would love to have a whizbang scalder, but for now a coleman stove with a water canner full of water will do. I use a thermometer and keep the water at 140 F. I scald for 45 seconds. A good scald is the key to good plucking.

Next we go to the  whizbang plucker. We have a post about it already here. Mods I added to mine include flashing over the motor, and a "feather pan" out of flashing too. It is a great design even unmodified. 

After plucking, we go to the evisceration table. I have cutting board, knives, sharpener, and "foot pot" full of ice ready. Herrick Kimball has a nice tutorial on evisceration here. The table is just some plywood covered with vinyl flashing on sawhorses. The bottle is full of bleach based disinfectant. Not shown is the garden hose and spray nozzle.

I have a gut bucket ready at all times. It is good to keep it covered and put some wood shavings in it as it fills.

Finally we have the initial cooler full of ice and water. This is my "pink water" chill before they go into a bigger cooler overnight. The birds are cut up after chilling for 24 hours and then frozen in vacuum bags.

That is my set up - simple and cheap. The plucker was the most expensive piece but probably made the whole process tolerable for me. If we can do this - anybody can do this!  (And remember Phillipians 4:13!)


  1. Hi, I’m Anne from Life on the Funny Farm (, and I’m visiting from the barn hop.

    I am currently raising my first meat chickens. I haven't yet decided whether I will process them myself, or send them out, so this post was helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    Anyway, it’s nice to “meet” you! Hope you can pop by my blog sometime to say hi…

  2. Hi, I'm Sharm from The 7 Pillars Home, also visiting from the Barn Hop. What a helpful post - and good pics. Have a blessed week!