Home slaugh­ter Step-by-step guide with Tim Tyne

In the third part of his se­ries on home slaugh­ter, Tim Tyne gives a step-by-step guide to killing a chicken and preparing it for the oven

Country Smallholding - - News -

For most peo­ple con­tem­plat­ing home slaugh­ter of live­stock, poul­try is prob­a­bly the start­ing point. There­fore it makes sense to be­gin the ‘stepby-step’ part of this se­ries with the killing and prepa­ra­tion of a chicken. The method I’m us­ing here is man­ual neck dis­lo­ca­tion, which is prob­a­bly what small­hold­ers are most fa­mil­iar with. How­ever, this is only le­gal on birds weigh­ing up to 3kg, and may, in fact, be­come il­le­gal at some point in the fu­ture. There­fore it’s im­por­tant that you are also aware of other meth­ods that could be used. For birds weigh­ing more than 3kg, you’ll need to use me­chan­i­cal means such as the broomhan­dle method (see last month’s CS) or a poul­try stun­ning de­vice, fol­lowed by bleed­ing. Also be aware that with some ducks, al­though the body weight may be be­low 3kg, the length of the neck makes man­ual dis­lo­ca­tion quite dif­fi­cult (un­less you’ve got ex­cep­tion­ally long arms).

1 With the bird held up­side-down by the legs in my left hand, I gen­tly but firmly take hold of the head in my right, with its neck be­tween my thumb and first fin­ger. (Most of the in­struc­tions I’ve read sug­gest that the neck should be gripped be­tween the first and sec­ond fin­ger, but I don’t find that so ef­fec­tive.) I then pull down on the head while bend­ing it back – ef­fec­tively bend­ing the neck around the base of my thumb. The ac­tion must not be jerky. It’s easy enough to feel when the neck dis­lo­cates, but you should con­tinue to pull in or­der to make a good sep­a­ra­tion into which the blood will drain. Don’t pull the head right off though.

2 As soon as the bird is dead it will be­gin to flap un­con­trol­lably, of­ten with suf­fi­cient force to smash the wing bones. There­fore, I clasp the wings quite tightly to its body un­til the ini­tial vi­o­lent spasms have sub­sided.

3 Once I’ve done the easy bit I hand the bird over to Dot (or one of the chil­dren) for the re­main­der of the job. Dot plucks

the bird with it hang­ing up by the legs at a con­ve­nient height, and places a box or bin be­tween her knees to catch the feath­ers.

4 There’s prob­a­bly a ‘cor­rect’ or­der for pluck­ing poul­try, but this is the way Dot does it, and it seems to work: Firstly the wings, fol­lowed by the neck. Breast next, then legs. Fi­nally the back. Gen­er­ally the feath­ers are pulled against the way they lie, but, to avoid tear­ing the skin, pull them in the di­rec­tion in which they grow when pluck­ing the neck, shoul­ders and the front of the breast. Stub­born quills can be re­moved with a pair of pli­ers.

5 Two neatly plucked birds ready for fur­ther pro­cess­ing. No­tice how they’ve been placed with their heads hang­ing down, in or­der to keep the blood in the neck cav­ity.

6 Singe­ing off the whiskery bits us­ing a blowlamp. A lighted spill of news­pa­per, a can­dle or a spirit lamp were the tra­di­tional meth­ods.

7 Cut off the scaly part of the legs at the joint. Next, cut off the head at the point where the neck was dis­lo­cated. As much of the neck skin is left on the bird as pos­si­ble.

8 Hav­ing sep­a­rated it from the skin, Dot cuts off the neck as close to the body of the bird as pos­si­ble, us­ing se­ca­teurs. She also re­moves the crop at this point.

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