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Dressing technique - don't read if squeamish.
This is a detailed description of how I slaughtered and butchered a cockerel - don't read on if upset by such things!



I have hatched quite a few birds this year and knew that I would inevitably have excess males so would have to dispatch at some point. The slaughter itself I was confident I could do, although not pleasant, and certainly feels different to culling a sick animal, or even culling at hatch.


The plucking/gutting/etc was  more of a challenge. I watched lots of alternative techniques on some YouTube videos, as well as reading descriptions, and thought the method I came up with might be helpful to others. (A kind of hybrid of several others with a bit of applied anatomy thrown in).


I threw the birds some seed to distract them, and caught the boy I wanted while he was pecking some up. Popped a "hood" over his head (doubled up sock) to make it dark for him and keep him calm and quiet, and carried him to a prepared spot. Having dispatched my 4.5 month old chap by the broomstick method, I took off the head shortly after and allowed to bleed out hung up by the feet (all this well out of sight of my other birds).


After about 10 minutes I took the carcass indoors to a prepared clean surface with bin and sink nearby.

I put the bird on its back, neck away from me and pulled up the skin just at the tip of the breast bone. Snipped a hole in this and used a sharp knife to divide the skin up towards the neck. I then used my hands to take off the skin and feathers up towards the shoulder and hip joints. At this point I cut off the last segment of wings and legs so the skin would come off the legs and wings when I got that far. Carried on skinning and pulled the skin off the legs/wings turning it inside out. Needed to use a knife to separate along the back of the wings an the end of the legs.I took all the skin off the neck end and pulled down at the vent end so that the skin was nearly down to the vent (and inside out). I then cut off most of the skin/feathers but next time would leave intact as it frees up some feathers to fly about.


Next I turned it all around and separated out around the neck end until I could get either side of the base of the neck. I could also pull off oesophagus crop and trachea from the neck at this point. Then with backbone uppermost I used poultry shears to cut along each side of the backbone - once started it is easy to keep the guts out of the way, though you do cut through the lungs, you can hold the neck to support it all. Once I was down near the vent I could separate the neck and backbone from the carcass, rinse it and put in a pan for making stock. Now I could see the vent from the inside of what had been the body cavity, and cut around it on either side, keeping close to the bones and joined up the cut on the breast-side of the carcass. Going back up to neck end I could take the whole of the alimentary tract away in one go with the remaining skin, separating out the heart, kidneys, and liver. I then took the liver and carefully removed the greenish gallbladder over the sink (taking care not to spill any bile other than into the sink - it was very bright green, and can taint the meat if spilt, kidneys liver and heart then added to the stock pan after a rinse. I separated the big muscular gizzard from the rest of the guts which went in the bin. Opened the gizzard and took out the partially ground up food and grit, rinsed and peel away the lining of the gizzard, another rinse and added it to the stock pan. Washed my hands again as had been into the inside of the gizzard.


The rest of the carcass was now looking like a spatchcocked chicken (basically that is what I had done), and it was easy to scrape out the remainder of the lungs and a few blood clots, and rinse the whole thing under the tap.

I then divided into the normal familiar portions (easy with the backbone removed), rinsed again and put them in iced water in the bottom of the fridge for a couple of hours to chill properly as fast as possible. Took them out, dried on kitchen towel, and packed in ziplock bags to go back in the fridge for 24hrs before freezing (supposed to be more tender if left for a while).


This seems an easier way than most I have seen. It saves a lot of effort and mess plucking, taking the backbone off means you can see what you are doing, and you get rid of the guts in one go with little risk of contamination. Doing all this straight away whilst still warm makes everything much more mobile and easy to work on, as well as getting the meat chilled as soon as possible. I have previously done a post-mortem on a sick bird after it had cooled and got rigor-mortis and it was all much less mobile.


I'm posting this in case it makes the whole process easier for anyone else doing it for the first time.

Never forget that life is a finite resource.

Experience is something you gain just after you needed it most.
I used to do it to some of my birds and ducks.  Remember one time something green ended up on the ceiling!    I didnt enjoy it much and not sure I could do it now.   I didnt do the killing by the way,  the farmer did that for me.   Sounds like you did a good job!

It never worries me when I get a little lost, all I do is change where I'm going
I am very interested in this.  Personally I don't eat chicken, or even much meat, but OH is interested in our own birds.
If they can be taught to hate, they can be taught to love.

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