Harvesting and processing meat chicks

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

We gave them the best life that we could. Our Cornish Cross chicks were able to flap their wings, strut their stuff and chase bugs, dig for worms, eat grass and in all ways have as good a chicken life as we could give them. Plenty of food and water and they were some happy birds.

WARNING: Gory Post, if you are not interest in how to do this particular chore, skip to the lovely photos of the farm.

We give them one single bad minute as we dispatch them as fast as possible. Lots of people using a killing cone and just slit the chickens necks and let them bleed out that way but we've been horrible at that method, so we chop their heads off with an axe on a chopping block. It goes quickly and we are sure they h

ave died.

Usually, folks come for this, people wanting to learn how, people who want to teach and people who just want to watch, and that's all good. This year, we had my daughter-cohort Donna in to learn different methods and my friend Mary Ann to show how to scald and pluck. Roger and I manning the axe and chopping block and bleed out bucket and me teaching how to clean the carcass. Extra helper was 8.5 year old Zoe, my granddaughter.

We set up an assembly line that starts with the chopping block area, two folding tables with a 5 gal. bucket of water between us, then an offal bucket under each table, with wash clothes, sharpening stone, knives and access to the hose for each table.

Zoe and Roger go way down to the pens, because we don't do this where the birds can watch. She gets one and carries it gently up to the work area and hands it off to me.

After Roger has done the deed, I hold the bird in the bucket while it bleeds out. I'll dilute that blood and pour it on my garden beds as fertilizer at the end of the day. Once the bird is done, I take the carcass to the table or hand it off to Donna.

I skin most of my birds but wanted to find out about scalding and plucking and my good friend Mary Ann was nice enough to come show me. She did a great job of explaining and showing us how it was done. I learned a lot. I'm going to stick with skinning my birds, it's much faster and that's the way I use most of my meat.

If you would like a step by step instructional on how to clean a bird, I'll be making one shortly. After we cleaned out the birds, we'd put them in a gallon size plastic zip lock baggie and slip it into an ice chest filled with water and ice to cool.

I wait usually 24 to 48 hours before I will dismember a bird into it's useful parts but this time Donna wanted to see this part done so we trooped inside where I showed her that task.

Then Mary Ann showed us her way of dismembering a carcass and I learned a new way to cut legs and thighs apart and that was fun! It's way easier than my way, so yeah!

I'm so grateful to Donna and Mary Ann for all their help on this day! It's fun to teach and it's fun to learn and it's good to know that we're assured of the quality of our chicken dinners for the rest of the year. I was also glad for our audience - there were a lot of other people watching.

We dispatched 21 birds in all, over two days - the smallest roo was spared the axe and has now joined the ladies. He's a pretty nice boy, I hope he grows up to be a good roo or he will be dinner, too!

It's a day of mixed feelings for sure. Sorry that we have to take life but happy in the knowledge that here at Windy Thistle, our livestock have a really good life and then, just one bad minute.

If you'd like to come learn how to do something the old way, just let me know! Classes are $10.00 a person and I'll teach you practically anything - from Soap to Dinner - if you want to learn it and I know how to do it, we'll set up a time for a class!

Just shoot me a PM! And, herbs are available along with egg orders - enough herb for one or two meals for $1.00. We have basil, oregano, spearmint, peppermint, curly parsley, lemon balm, rosemary and thyme available now.

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