Posts Tagged ‘How to cut up chicken’

Butchering Chickens


Red Sex Sal hen-5 months old.


Fast-Grow Cornish Giant – 12 weeks old

I did a class on butchering chickens on Saturday.  When approached by a customer to do the class I was hesitant and resistant to the idea.  I really don’t enjoy butchering chickens!  But after enough encouragement I agreed and was surprised at the response.  The first class filled up, then the second and I have enough for a third if I can bring myself to do it!  I had about 20 willing participants who with some trepidation tackled the chore. I was impressed that I had two teens and they stuck with it and did a good job. I was proud of them. We had a good time (if plucking & degutting chickens is a good time!) and went away with a new understanding of what it takes to bring a good meal of chicken to the table.

I gave my camera to granddaughter, Emily, and told her to take lots of pictures.  She did-over 400!  Thank goodness for digital cameras!

I started off raising Fast-grow Cornish Giants for the class.  At first they did really well. The batch of chickens is documented on my website ( for those who are interested in raising them.  I had trouble losing them and by the time of the class and they were 12 weeks old I had lost 14 of the 25 and 1 was a severe runt.  Those that survived were huge.  I didn’t get them weighed-I wish I would have, but they had to weigh at least 15 lbs and some of the roosters may have been 20.  One of the participants weighed her Cornish hen when she got home and it was 1 oz. shy of 10 lbs!!!  Some in the class had to take my Red Sex Sal laying hens that were 5 months old.  I was feeding them a heavy corn ration to fatten them up but the contrast between the two birds was huge.  The pictures at the top of the page shows the difference.    I butchered one of the hens and we had it for supper Saturday night. The flavor was excellent and the meat was tender-they just weren’t very big.   Remember the children’s story of the “Scrawy Twany Lion”?  That is how my little hen looked beside the plump Cornish giants!  It was  incredible to me how fast the Cornish grew.

Now back to the class….


Each person chose their chicken…


and then we chopped the heads off.


Waiting for the blood to drain.


Deed completed.


Heading to the scalder.



A few dips into the hot water and the chickens are ready to pluck.  It does not take long-maybe 30-45 seconds.

Just enough that the feathers come off the skin easily but not enough to cook the skin and cause it to break.


Plucking the feathers off.





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Once the plucking was done we took a knife and scraped the skin removing any feather stubs that were left.


Singeing the plucked bird by holding it over a flame to quickly remove any fine hairs left on the skin.  This process only takes a few seconds.



Washing our birds using a squirt of Dawn dish detergent and 1/2 cap (1 tsp)  bleach in warm water.


Cut off the feet by bending the legs slightly backwards and cutting through the joint.

Also removed the oil gland on top of the tail.



Making a slice through the skin and abdomen between the legs but being very careful not to cut into the guts.


Removing the guts and organs by inserting the hand into the cavity along the breastbone and reaching as far to the front as possible and pulling the  insides out.



You can see the heart laying just behind the guts and to the right of the liver.


My hen had a bonus-egg yolks in it and a hard shelled egg just ready to be laid.

The egg yolks are so good to eat-even the tiniest ones. Put them in the soup broth or gravy to cook.


I cut open the stomach or gizzard and peeled out the liner to remove the food contents.  The gizzard is good to eat but more tough and chewy in texture.


The liver.


There is a little green sack attached to the liver called the spleen.  You want to be very careful in cutting it off the liver to not break it. It is filled with a bitter substance that will ruin your meat if it breaks.


In one of the hens was something I had never seen-the egg yolk with the white already on it.


You could actually pick it up.  I put it in my roasting pan when I roasted my hen for supper. It was so good to eat.


I am pointing to the lungs that are attached to the rib cage on each side. Pull them out.


The hen is clean and ready to be cut into pieces.   I do see one little piece of lung in there yet. (The bright red spot on the right rib cage).


Cutting off the wings.


Using a large, sharp butcher knife to cut off the legs.  Then I cut the leg from the thigh. If you bend the leg backwards slightly you can find the joint to cut between the bones.




Cutting the breast bone in two.



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