Not for the squeamish…
WARNING – LOTS OF BLOOD AND BODY PARTS WILL BE SHOWN AFTER THE SERENE VIDEO and the first 5 pictures.
Last supper – really it is last lunch.
Here is what those adorable chicks I showed you 8 weeks ago, turned into. Grass and grain eating and pooping fertilizing fools. I’ve just moved them to fresh grass, and am watering them, you can see them grazing and doing the contented chicken leg and wing stretch. They have had an enjoyable eight weeks. I always think if I was a dog, I would want to be one of my dogs, and if I was a chicken, I would want to be one of my chickens… .
We withhold the feed the afternoon before processing the chickens. They receive water and fresh grass, but no grain. This allows the the crop and the rest of the digestive system to clear out. This step is important, a clean crop and a flushed out intestinal tract make life a little more pleasant during this task.
We loaded them into our crates during the dark, they stay calm and settle right down in their crates. They were going to get to travel and see other chickens in the nearby state of Washington at our friends farm, who let us come over and butcher when they do. On the slate for the day: 4 adults and an assortment of kids from age 9 – 16 were going to butcher 500 chickens and be cleaned up by lunchtime. This is in addition to doing chores as usual, on three farms They had 365, their friend from church had 70, and we were bringing 71. We were home by noon.
As an aside to people who might be bothered by this post – I worked today alongside a nine year girl teaching her how to butcher a chicken. Her biggest concern? Her apron was a little too big, and the straps kept slipping off of her arms. She was a trooper. She stuck with it and and like a good trailhorse, she was bombproof, even getting playful and making a dead chicken fart, by bouncing it on the table. I don’t think she wonders where her food comes from.
This post will be long on pictures, but I will try to explain each so you can see how we spent our day. I’m still number crunching – I’m scared to see how much they cost me, but the accountant in me has to know to the penny.
Crossing the Columbia River, looking east towards home.
Yep, this is the place.
Jerseys and broiler pens.
Missy, our greeter.
New baby chicks.
*****WARNING***** the party is over!
Loading the killing cones and bleeding out. The cones keep the chickens from struggling and they feel safe in an enclosed area… . This helps minimize stess for chickens and humans! Blood drips into a trough and then into a bucket. Good compost starter. Nothing is wasted.
Slitting the throat.
Fully bled and getting ready for the scalder.
Scalder, with soap added to help flocculate the feathers. The water is approximately 140* and the birds cycle through for one minute.
The kids got in too big of hurry, and ran the birds through too fast. The water cooled a little and the feathers don’t loosen as easily. When they have to start picking this many off by hand – they slow down.
Heads off and into a cool vat of water.
Gutting (sorry there isn’t a better word for this part).
Taking out the crop. Things that have to be removed, tail glands, crop and windpipe, and entire gut assembly. Save heart, liver and gizzard. At this time, you get to see the health of the bird, by checking them inside and out – literally.
Chickens have been in ice water for an hour. This container is the type used on fishing boats. It easily holds 75 – 100 chickens.
Our hostess and boss for the day putting the chickens to drain.
The feathers from 500 broilers. Compost material.
More compost material.
The actual butchering is only part of the job. Building a compost pile out of the offal, and the cleanup of the processing area take some time. Everything has to be scrubbed and sanitized and put away until the next batch in a month. Inside the chickens have to be drained and QC’d for feathers, and anything else that won’t look appetizing on a platter. Customers start arriving by 1:00pm. Everything needs to be ship shape!
Here we are at home, Melvin is doing an additional QC for us.
Other peoples chickens were processed also that day. The picture below shows the difference in how you raise your chickens. Not moving the chickens everyday, or bedding them properly causes causes the sores on the feet from manure build-up. I grabbed a foot out of the compost, so you could see the difference. Ours is on the left. Good dog, Trace you picked the correct one!