Sunday, July 24, 2016

Not for the faint-hearted or chicken!

Breeding chickens inevitably leads to excess roosters. While I was lucky enough to have only four males from eighteen chicks they joined the ranks of other five roosters I already had. So it was time to take the chook by the feet and learn how to process excess cockerels into frozen chook.
After twenty seven years of vegetarianism I realised that producing my own food required me to eat some of the many animals that have been living a happy life on Opportunity Farm. While reducing the food miles significantly it led to the necessity of butchering. So far I had only managed to despatch one bantam rooster. I was not confident I could repeat the process unsupervised so I called up a friend who was happy to help me in exchange for a chook to take home.
We calmed the birds by hanging them upside down until they settled, thanked them for what they were to become and then opted for the neck wringing option. This had worked easily on a bantam but it seemed a different prospect on a large young Light Sussex. Without going into the gory details we either needed to adopt the cone method or use a broom handle under our feet to be able to complete the hardest part in the most humane way.
That done we hung them in the shed to drip and started to pluck. We had a water boiler going but while we waited for it to reach about 70 degrees Celsius (160 F) we pulled away at the feathers. I was a bit enthusiastic and ripped the skin in a couple of places. When we did dip the birds in the water it certainly made removing the feathers very much easier, especially the large wing feathers.

With the feathers removed the next step was to remove the head. We found our knives not sharp enough so I resorted to the chopping block and a tomahawk. It was not so confronting to do this when the bird was featherless and the blood already drained. We then cut around the anus and pulled out the insides. I am sure that an expert can make this look easy but suffice to say the job was completed.

The feet were then removed with the knife. Both birds weighed in at 1.7kg. They were then bagged up. Michelle suggested that it seems an appropriate contribution to go in the haybox next weekend when we attend a bonfire party.

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