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Project 46: Killing the bird

December 25, 2011

This guest post is by Nicole:

This year I made a new friend and my new friend wanted to raise chickens. She just didn’t want to kill them. I couldn’t raise chickens (we rent), and I figured, “How hard would it be to kill a few chickens? My grandmother did it all the time.” So a deal was struck and eggs were incubated. The chicks were adorable and survived the curiosity of six kids under the age of 5. Thus we found ourselves actually going to do this crazy thing. (About 60% of the time, I never actually follow through with my crazy urban homesteading plans… so this was kind of a shock for me.) We killed probably ten chickens and ducks combined this summer, thus I think I’m still squarely in the “First Crafts” range of my experience.

This tutorial looks very good in theory. We didn’t actually follow it. But we probably should. Maybe next time.

Stringing up the chicken

First you catch the chicken. To me, this is the most difficult part of killing chickens. I do not like holding live animals… so I let Anna do that part. She ties them up for me too. The day we chose to kill them was very rainy. This was a mistake. The chickens required a significant bath before we dunked them to pluck.

Doing the deed

I like to grab the head and pull the neck straight to get a good view of the neck. The first couple times I did this I just tried to slice right through feathers and everything. That seemed to work for Anna’s husband (who could cut the head right off in one go), but I didn’t have the strength to do the same. I finally figured out that if you slide the knife in under the feathers so that it rests against the skin, when you cut you will easily slice through the jugular. Ideally, I would repeat this on the other side of the neck, but I admit that having the chicken protest the first cut always startles me so much that I let go. If you do it right, the blood will flow freely and the bird will die within a minute. Let it finish bleeding out, then proceed to the next bird.

Letting the chicken bleed out

Once you’ve killed the birds, then you have to scald them to make plucking easier. There exists machines to do this for you, but honestly it is so easy I don’t really know why one would bother with the expense unless one was raising many birds for sale.

Dunking the chicken to loosen the feathers

And kids LOVE to pluck… so we let them. (At least, with the chickens. I don’t let them near the more finicky duck feathers.)

Plucking the chicken

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