To be honest I never thought I would have to encounter, nor write about this. However due to various circumstances we had to learn quickly how to slaughter our roosters. We hatched out 9 chickens back in September last year. Unfortunately for us, 6 of them ended up becoming roosters. Sexing chickens, as we discovered, is extremely difficult so we decided to wait until they were crowing to be 100% sure. However I must say the rooster tail feathers came in long before that so we were fairly confident which ones were the roo’s.
So, to get some experience we went to a fellow local homesteader who was soon to be preparing her Turkeys for thanksgiving. Although Turkeys differ in size, the process was fairly similar. We opted to used cones to hang the roosters upside down in before we removed the head. This was due to the fact after extensive online research, fowl will typically pass out from being hung upside down therefore less likely to stress about what was to come. Some also say they don’t feel anything, however we cannot ask the chicken to confirm that.
Once the bird is calm then you can either slit the throat or remove the head completely. I have since found out that the reason for slitting the throat is because using the plucking machine requires the head to still be attached. We opted to remove the head completely for our chickens to again be certain that they would not be in pain if we messed up. So after you have killed the chicken you then allow the blood to drain out. Having your cone placed next to a tree or draining down to a bucket can limit the mess here.
Now, if you have hired/bought a scalding pot and plucker, this is where you would dip the bird in to loosen the feathers and then pop him in the plucker to remove all the feathers and job done. However we were not fussed about having the chicken whole, we chose to dissect and store in parts. This is also a lot simpler then messing about with heat settings for the boiling water and renting out costly equipment. First, you remove the skin completely, like a jacket, slice down the bird and just peel off. Then you go about removing the legs and wings. (Don’t forget to save those legs for your dogs as they are rich in glucosamine and chondroitin – great for joint support!) Then you flip the bird onto it’s front and make a small cut in its spine across so you can then half the bird. Do this slowly as next you will need to remove the organs and you need to do this carefully as not to spoil the meat.
So once you have separated the thighs from the front/breasts/wings it is now fairly easy to scoop out all the organs. We also save the liver, kidneys etc for the dogs. Ensure to throw away the gizzard and crop (or re-use the food in there, your choice)
Look away now if you are squeamish as I am going to explain what every thing is as we found it tough to do so on the internet.
Testes (if culling roosters) and these are also a lot smaller in young roosters
Kidney (not easy to get to)
Ovary (for the ladies)
Gall Bladder & Spleen:
Intestines (small/large) the long squiggely stuff
OK so there are some of the basics you will come across and wonder.. what the hell is that? I will be sure to update the photos with our own for the next batch of Roosters we process.
So once you have pulled out all the insides you can start to separate the meat. We have a bowl of ice and water to one side to place the parts in. We first cut the back end in half this is the 2 thighs. Then using the keel bone as your guide, slice downwards and savour as much of the breast as you can. The wings are connected to this, so use your judgement to either keep more meat on the wings or the breast and cut the wings out completely. Also cut the neck out and keep for the pups! Those cost a lot of money in stores!
The end result of one rooster: