Time For Culling Chickens
Around the Farmstead, we are typically culling chickens at least a couple times per year, sometimes more. It gives our family much needed food to eat. One of the things that I love most about it is that we know what’s in it. That is very important to me and to my family.
I grew up raising and culling our own chickens. It honestly never seemed like anything out of the ordinary to me. However, over the past year I’ve been asked a couple of questions that made me realize that I should probably take a moment to explain a little of what we do and how we do it.
Last year, a friend (a city girl), asked me if I ever feel bad killing the animals that we raise. I feel like that is where I should start. For one, to answer that question, …a little…but it doesn’t stop me. Do I love my animals? Absolutely. We spend lots of time with them. We feed and water them, we talk to them, we play with them and we laugh at them. So, while I love my animals I love my family more….and they need to eat.
I will also add exactly what I told my friend. We give our animals a nice home so that they are comfortable, they keep dry and out of the weather. We give them plenty of food and water and room to roam. They are provided with good lives and then they supply my family with what we need. I fully believe that God put them here for just this purpose.
The other question that I got was from a new friend. We were talking about our livestock and butchering them, and she said in a very surprised way, “You mean people still do that?” I laughed for quite some time after that one. I really didn’t realize that we had come so far as a society that even something that I considered as normal as anything else is viewed as an outdated practice.
SO…… for those of you who are shocked right now, it really does still happen. And for those of you that are thinking about the possibility of raising chickens for meat, I’m gonna take you through our process of culling chickens.
Step 1 – You gotta catch ’em first
First, we have to catch them. (insert laughter here) That’s usually a lot of fun…and we’ve learned to use what we have-a big fishing net!
Step 2 – Kill ’em quickly
After we catch a few, (we typically work with 3-5 at a time), we hang them upside down near our work site, which we usually set up in the shade (Southern Oklahoma). Their blood goes to their heads and they get very calm. We take a very sharp knife, pull back the feathers around the neck, and make two quick, deepish slices on the sides of the neck to cut through their main veins. If your knife is very sharp, you won’t have to saw through. It will be very quick.
We do not cut the head off. We let them bleed out. Cutting through the spinal cord causes the muscles to tense up and makes the meat tougher. Now, I feel like I should at least prepare you for what happens when they die. They kind start flapping around a lot. Like, if you don’t have them tied up, they might fly a little. (I was about 3ish, the first time I saw that and I wasn’t prepared.)
Step 3 – Clean ’em up
Once they are dead, we start the cleaning process. We usually do not pluck. I HATE PLUCKING. When I get my husband talked into making me a chicken plucker, then I might. So, we skin them. Which works best for our preparations anyway. All that is involved in this part of the process is chopping off the head, feet and wings (you can choose how far up the wing you wanna go.) After skinning them, we pull their entrails out of the backsides, making sure that we get everything out. We keep a gut bucket and a water hose nearby to keep everything cleaned up and sanitary at all times. Then we repeat that process over and over until they are all done.
We usually keep an ice chest out near the table to throw them into while we’re cleaning. After all of the cleaning is done, that is my queue to go to the kitchen and start butchering and processing. Many times, I just freeze them, but this last time I decided to can them all up. It worked out great for our family. I’ll post about that process soon. I’ve had a bunch of people asking about it.