Thursday, October 18, 2012

How to skin a chicken

This week has been chicken butchering week for me. Unlike most people who leave the skin on and pluck feathers, I skin the chickens that I butcher. It is so much less messy in my opinion. I also tend to remove the skin before cooking, so it saves an extra step in the kitchen by processing this way.
how to butcher a chicken
Time for the freezer Mr Cluck!
If there had been another adult around that could have taken pictures for me, I would have done it for my readers, but unfortunately there was just me and my youngest (3 yrs). However, please read and imagine. :) You can butcher a chicken in 10 minutes this way with very little clean up.
I think many people can benefit from a step by step tutorial on how to skin a chicken. Here goes.

Supplies:
A trash can
Two 'nooses' hung in different locations
A very sharp knife
A dunking bucket (for wetting chicken feathers after killing)
A clean bucket (for putting processed chickens in)
A hose with clean running water.

Step 1.
I have tried taking the chicken food away at least 12 hours before butchering. I DO find that it makes a difference. I prefer to take the food away early so that I do not have to deal with food in the chicken's crop.

Step 2.
Hang chicken by the feet in one of the 'nooses'. I like to use a slip knot as I find less chickens wriggle free this way.

Step 3.
Cut the head off of the chicken. Leave most of the neck in tact. You'll want to step back for this or you'll have blood all over you. It's important when hanging the chicken noose that you put it in a location that is where the chicken can flap it's wings without hitting something (like a tree trunk) - the wings will break otherwise.

Step 4.
Once the nerves are done moving and the chicken is done bleeding, remove the feet from the noose and dunk in a bucket full of water. Wetting the feathers makes the skinning process much easier as the feathers won't stick to your hands.
Step 5.
Tear the skin away from the neck of the chicken and hang the neck by a slip knot noose. Make sure the noose is very tight as the neck is usually pretty slippery. By hanging it by the neck instead of feet, you'll have much less of a change of contamination.
Step 6. 
Place the garbage can directly underneath the chicken you are about to process.
Step 7. 
Cut off chicken feet and wing tips. 

Step 8. 
Using the knife, start at the shoulder area and gently peel or tear the skin away from the shoulders. The crop is attached to the right breast, so be careful not to puncture or there will be a bit of a mess. Once crop and skin are detached, you can safely pull and tear skin right off of chicken. I pull it all away until it is all hanging at the 'butt' end of the chicken. 
Step 9.
Very carefully slit the cavity open at the bottom. Reach in side and pull everything out. Don't forget to scrape out lungs (easily done with a fingernail). When this is finished, there should only be the bowels attached at the base of the chicken.

Step 10. 
Turn the chicken with the back facing you and cut the entire 'butt' end off. Including the tail. 
Step 11.
Use hose to spray off the chicken inside and out.
Step 12. 
Cut off chicken's neck if desired. Then place inside the clean bucket. Fill with water.
Repeat!
When we are finished with all of the chickens, I take them into the house to bag and freeze. you can fit about 4-5 chickens in a clean 5 gallon bucket. If you have someone to take them inside for you while you butcher, then only one or two buckets are necessary. Otherwise, get enough buckets to finish your flock so you don't have to stop.

Someday I hope to get pictures for this chicken skinning and butchering process, but unfortunately, this year's butchering is done. Hopefully you will have learned something!

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