Our Homestead Meat Bird Processing Adventure: A Step-by-Step Guide – with video- and Recommended Tools
Back in August, we embarked on a significant journey that we’re excited to share with you now (better late than never, right?). On our homestead, we took on the challenge of processing our own meat birds – a task that initially filled us with mixed emotions. Let me walk you through our experience real quick, offering insights into the process and sharing why we believe it’s an essential part of our commitment to sustainable, organic living.
We dove into the adventure of raising and processing our own chickens for a more personal connection with our food. It’s all about knowing and having a say in what goes into those fluffy feathers! We decided to raise Cornish Cross meat birds from chicks, nurturing them until they reached the ideal age of about 8 weeks for processing. Our Cornish Cross buddies got to enjoy sunny days roaming around, munching on organic goodies – no weird stuff, just good vibes. No steroids, hormones, or icky toxins here! We wanted our feathered friends to have the best life possible, and in return, we’re serving up our family some seriously tasty and wholesome eats.
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Despite our initial reservations, the day arrived, and we were equipped with all the necessary tools, all of which we found on Amazon. Below are the key tools we used, along with links for your convenience:
Here’s the tools we used (& totally recommend) all from Amazon!
- Kitchener Chicken Plucker Machine:
Streamline the feather removal process with this efficient machine, ensuring a smoother and quicker overall experience.
- Restraining Cone (aka Kill Cone) for Butchering Chickens:
Optimize the butchering process with a reliable restraining cone, ensuring humane and precise handling during this crucial stage.
Scalding chickens makes the feathers easier to remove.
- Poultry Shrink Wrap Bags:
Preserve the freshness of your processed meat with these specialized shrink wrap bags, perfect for packaging and storage.
- Butchering Knife Set:
Invest in a quality knife set designed for poultry processing, providing precision and efficiency in every cut (we used the smaller knife the most for the processing, but the larger ones come in handy in the kitchen when preparing meat to cook. We ended up using the larger knives to butcher our pig, so the set really was a good investment).
We also took the time to educate ourselves by watching informative videos, helping us familiarize ourselves with the process. Prior to commencing the task, we engaged in a moment of reflection and prayer, emphasizing our commitment to treating the animals with the utmost respect and gratitude.
While the prospect of processing our own meat birds initially seemed daunting, the actual experience turned out to be surprisingly straightforward. It’s important to note that everyone reacts differently to such situations. In our case, our family copes with nervousness or fear through laughter – a coping mechanism that lightens the atmosphere while maintaining our genuine appreciation for the animals we raise.
Without further ado, here’s the video of how it all went…
This footage is from August 2023 (it took me much longer to edit than I’d hoped for, more on that here). Since then, we have implemented a system of breeding our chickens and incubating the eggs (approximately 20 chicks hatch out each month but only about half of those are meat birds, the rest are egg layers and laughing roosters).
Brent installed two brooder boxes in our basement, so the newly hatched chicks go into the top brooder with more heat, and the older chicks go into the bottom brooder with more space until they are old/big enough to join our flock outside where they get to free range and enjoy sunshine and the lovely South Carolina weather.
At approximately 8 weeks old, they are processed and put into our freezers. This rotational system ensures that we have a constant supply of meat that was pasture raised, fed organically and never given steroids, antibiotics, etc. It’s healthy for us to consume and we know they were given the best life possible! Having this connection to our food source is important to us.
Our meat bird processing journey was not just a task but a fulfilling experience that deepened our connection to the food on our table. By sharing our story and recommended tools, we hope to empower others considering a similar venture on their homesteads. Remember, the key to a successful process lies in preparation, education, and a respectful approach to the animals that sustain us.
Happy homesteading! XOXO, Jalena Dawn
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