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Processing Chickens

8 August 2010 10 Comments

That’s the euphemism for those that don’t like to say “slaughtering and butchering chickens”!

I processed the last two roosters from our first batch of chicks today. We’re keeping the one female from the group to join our layer flock. This photo is from the start of June – I just realised I hadn’t taken any since.

Killing, cleaning and cutting up chickens isn’t very complicated, and it’s not as hard as it sounds. Remember, a generation or two ago everyone used to do it!

There are lots of good guides on the internet to help you. Probably one of the best is How To Butcher A Chicken – it has lots of details and explains everything very clearly, in both words and pictures. I also really liked the included video I got when I bought my Avian Aqua Miser chicken waterers.

This time around, I decided to skin the chickens instead of plucking them. It’s quicker, and I was going to be cutting them up for the freezer anyway. It went really well, and I think I’ll only pluck them now when we’re planning to roast one.

Here’s a great video on how to skin a chicken after killing it:

What I like about this method (apart from the speed!) is that the “dirty end” of the chicken faces down. This keeps everything clean as you work your way down, and when you get to the end you can drop the guts and everything straight out. Give it a rinse, and you’re ready to butcher up the bird:

Cutting the chicken up into pieces is pretty easy once you’re watched a professional show you how.

I divided the pieces from the two chickens into bags for the freezer – 1 bag of drumsticks, 1 of wings, 2 bags of breasts and tenders, 2 bags of thighs. I then put the necks and carcasses into a stock pot with some onions, carrots and herbs, and left it to simmer for a few hours. That’ll make a couple of meals of soup or risotto or something. Picking the meat from the bones after the stock was finished gave another serve of tender shredded meat suitable for burritos. That’s 9 meals for our family from the 2 chickens – not bad!

Build your own chicken coop.


  • Jason said:

    Great post Darren. I will be processing a couple of our Muscovy ducks soon. I am not sure if you can skin a duck. I will need to look into that. Muscovy ducks do not have as much fat as normal ducks, so it might be possible.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Jason: I did see a post on YouTube about skinning a duck, but they just used the duck as a prop to tell you what to do, they didn’t actually show the process. It wasn’t a muscovy, either. I’m sure it’d be possible, though.

    I’m interested to hear how you go!

  • Christian said:

    Yikes. While I totally respect this, I could just never bring myself to do it.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Christian: It’s not easy the first time, but once you’ve done it a couple of times you’re OK. I don’t look forward to it, but I don’t have a problem doing it now. The rewards (and flavour!) of growing your own are wonderful.

  • Anna said:

    Thanks for the plug! I need to remember to pick off the stewed meat the end of the stock step — I tend to let the cats nibble on the bones, but they’re wasteful and don’t really do it justice. I’m glad to see you’re eating the whole bird!

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Anna: No problem! I like your chicken waterers, although I still haven’t got around to setting up my last two. They’re working great in the chicken tractors. To tell the truth, I felt guilty about ‘wasting’ the skin, and couldn’t let the stewed meat go :-). It’ll make some nice burritos or quesidillas tomorrow night.

  • Hannah said:

    did you get day olds or have a rooster and do it all yourself. I’m looking for some day old meat chooks and live in Nowra.

  • Darren (author) said:

    @Hannah: We have a couple of roosters, so I hatched some fertilised eggs in an incubator. Just recently I had another small batch of eggs hatch under a broody hen, and that’s way easier than an incubator so I’d highly recommend that! To buy meat chicks, try somewhere like the Trading Post. I don’t think there’s much around this area, though.

    Barter and Sons sell day-old meat chicks, and they deliver in NSW. Their prices seem quite reasonable.

    I’d highly recommend getting some Australorps or Barnevelders if you’re able to have roosters where you live. They’re both good for eating and lay well, and you won’t have to keep shelling out money for day-old chicks every time you want to fill the freezer.

  • Marina said:

    Hi, My parents have let there chickens breed out of control and are offering roosters and some chooks to anyone that may want them. They live in Dapto and if you wuld like to contact me on 0417217119 I can arrange to have them ready for collection.Cheers Marina

  • Processing Roosters said:

    […] posted before about my process for killing and cleaning chickens. There are links there to excellent web sites and resources that contain everything you need to […]