Do you know the best way to process chickens for meat? I have slaughtered and dressed many birds for the table… trying many different techniques to reduce both my stress and most importantly, make the process humane for the animal. Through this I have first hand experience at what I believe to be the best methods for killing chickens. While I thought I knew most things about processing chickens, I recently learned that my closed mindedness prevented me from learning of more efficient methods to dress the bird. The article one of you suggested to me from the Chicken Chick has a lot of interesting information, yet I do not agree with the majority. This is where experience, experimentation, and a willingness to go beyond our comfort zone is important.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was attempting to process a large number of roosters for food, and to test out a couple of different methods on killing the birds and preparing them. I am still sorting out the video I took of my removal of the feathers from the roosters (mostly it is my trying to find video that doesn’t make me look obese) yet I uploaded a couple of videos, one of which Kitty filmed of me killing a Rooster. The video shows me using the technique to dispatch the Rooster. I am sure that you can see that it feels very little of the procedure. The only time it reacts is when I say that it is dying… it’s body has just realised that it is about to die so it puts up a last ditch effort to save itself. Most likely the animal is unaware of this due to massive blood loss and the reaction is purely a nervous system response.
I have lost significant amounts of blood in my life and I know that when you loose a lot of blood you have trouble staying concious. I know from my (limited) experience that the chicken would likely have felt very little of the procedure.
The UK Humane Slaughter society has a video showing a similar, yet their way appears much more brutal than the way I dispatched the rooster, hence their warning at the start.
I did have a video of my showing the procedure to break a chicken’s neck, yet I accidently riped it’s head off with the procedure. I decided not to put that video on Youtube, yet here is a still from that deleted video.
After killing the bird it is tine to start cleaning the body through the removal of the feathers. I normally use a “dry” plucking method, which is basically pulling the feathers out by hand, with no preparation work done to the bird. I set up a camera (I apologise for the terrible quality. I am using our old digital video camera and I am finding that for a 10 year old camera it has been surpassed by recent technology) and recorded the procedure. As you can see from the video, it took around 20 minutes of work to pluck the chicken.
Ever since my previous home in Collinsvale I had used this technique. The reasons for this are a little hazy now, yet I believe it mostly boiled down to always having a hard time keeping the water at the right temperature. The few times I tried it, I suspect the water was well below the right temperature, so the job was actually slower when done incorrectly.
So for this experiment I next used a very common technique, which requires a container of nearly boiling water. I decided to use a large old pot in combination with a camp stove to get the water just shy of boiling point. Kitty assisted by filming my second (and much faster) try of the method.
What does this teach us? Many things, the first of which would be that different people have different opinions on the best way to slaughter an animal. I believe that the method shown in UK Humane society video looks barbaric… I don’t believe that it is better for the animal, yet that is just my opinion. It is important to stretch ourselves a little and try out new things. In a way I feel a little foolish for wasting so much of my time in processing chickens. If I had of taken a chance on testing out different methods earlier I may have saved hours of work and allowed more work to be done smarter. This is, in a way, a bit of a wake up to me to be ready to be flexible.