Saturday, September 11, 2010

Looking Your Food In The Eyes - Part Deux

Well, we did it. We "harvested" meat for the first time. I did NOT cry like I thought I would. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but it definitely was not "fun" nor is it something I want to do often.

The hardest part, outside of the actual taking of life was plucking the feathers. Sheesh, but there are a lot of feathers. Since we were doing it all by hand, it took quite a long time - I'd say 20 minutes or so just on the feathers and we were squatting that whole time - because after the initial feather removing, we had to remove the "leftover" feathers one at a time. These were mostly pin feathers, so they were hard to reach and took time to remove. If we ever decide to do it en masse, I think we will try to rent or borrow one of those feather plucking "machines". It really was challenging. Also, if we decide to do it again en masse, we will need a better set up. We really were not rigged for it and we did not have any tables or chairs. Basically, we had a camping stove for the hot water and a #3 tub and some rope. We stood or squatted for everything. I think sitting would make it easier to do more than one. We spent over an hour and only managed to butcher one (the one who had begun "attacking" us) and I was exhausted by the end.

I also think that if we ever decide to raise lots of meat birds, I think we'll raise Cornish X instead of heritage birds (if we have the option). For the effort, it would be nice to have a bigger finished product. This guy was 5 months old and huge, yet he only dressed out at about 3 lbs, including bones.

Boy do I have a new appreciation for my poultry farmer :)


MichelleZ said...

Okay, so you have accomplished it and J.Z. has accomplished it. It is giving me hope that by the time it needs to be done we will be able to do it too.

I am surprised that your girls haven't started laying yet, it should be really soon. We are getting between 3 and 4 a day right now. For a while most of them were green, now most are pink and brown.

Anonymous said...

Lori, I almost called you last night. Somehow, Redd has your phonenumber on his new cell. I think he integrated facebook and his contacts and he has your number.

Anyway, what type of roosters were these? I'm hoping that mine dress out bigger than 3lbs.

We're going to rig up some sort of plucker using a hand drill. We're going to set up sink area hooked up to a hose faucet and have some tables, our large crawfish boiling pot and the propane burner. We'll also make the kids help, though I doubt they'll be much help.

I'm actually thinking cornish x too. We picked up a ton of scrap junk the other day and I'm thinking Redd could build a broiler pasture box. After watching my kids eat 10 legs and Redd and I eat 4 thighs the other night (fried) for dinner, I realize that 13 roosters is not nearly enough chicken meat to last us 6 months! Plus, I've been reading Joel Satalin and he's always encouraging!

The Book Lady Online said...


It was not as bad as I had thought it would be. You will do fine when the time comes :)


They were 5 month old Barred Plymouths (they were sold as Dominiques, but did not have a pea comb). I was reading today that heritage breeds don't reach their full weight/ height until they are about a year old. I didn't know that. Still, I was surprised at how big they looked until they were "naked". Those feathers made up at least half of their physical presence. I guess I really should not have been surprised because they were about the same size dressed as the heritage birds I get from my poultry farmer. The heritage birds are absolutely delicious, but really only have about 2/3 of the meat of a grocery store chicken. My family can almost put away 2 of them at a time. We'll eat one, plus some of the other for one meal then use some of the meat for a stir fry or something and the bones and any leftover meat (if there is any) for soup. Realistically, if we were going to grow all we need for 6 months, we'd need at least 2 per week, (sheesh, that's almost 50 chickens) unless we raised cornish x, then we could get by with one. That's why I'm leaning towards that breed for the spring. I'd still like to try hatching/ raising some baby chicks with three of our hens and one of our roosters, but I don't think they will be able to make up the majority of our chicken meat in the spring.

Alea said...

I have never butchered a chicken, but I have pluced feathers, and plucke, and plucked...

Good for you for getting through it! Like anything else it is a learning process. Good of you to share your experiences so others can know what to expect.