Squash Hollow Farm

Bootstrap Butchering- How To Process Meat Chickens on the Cheap!


Farming is Expensive.

There’s the land to pay for, the feed, the tractors, equipment, and of course… the goats to buy!

So any way I can replace an expensive piece of equipment with something less expensive but still functional…

Here are 5 Tools you need come Chicken Butcher Day and my Bootstrap Butcher Replacement tool that has saved me money!

1. Killing Cones and Stand        

killing cone rack

COST: $400-500

The best way to kill a chicken is not with an axe and stump.  But cone and rack combos can set you back $500! instead…

We found a discarded sign someone had posted for an upcoming Zoning hearing. With the legs already made, we just added a 2×12 across the top, and screwed in 4 individual cones.

killing cones on wooden stand

Savings: $400!!!

2. Scalder

featherman scalder


A good scalder can cost close to $1500! And that’s before shipping. But you want something that will heat your water hot, fast, and that will be mobile.

We purchased a Camp Chef Explorer 3X for $170 on sale, it heats super fast and is very portable! We use large black lobster pots from Walmart to dip the birds into.

camp chef to scald chickens

save over $1000 by using a camp grill!

  • camp chef…………$170
  • lobster pot…………$30

Savings $1200!!!

3. Plucker

featherman plucker


Removing the feathers is one of the most tedious and time consuming steps in the chicken butchering process. Some people choose to raise rabbits instead of chickens just to avoid the plucking. But a commercial plucker will set you back $1000!

We were so excited when we found the Power Plucker. This drill attachment is only $35, and it does a great job at plucking. We found a big improvement when we switched from hand plucking to the Power Plucker. No more pin feathers! We love this tool so much, we include it in our Chicken Butcher Class!

powerplucker drill attachment for plucking feathers

a great tool for plucking feathers

  • Drill………… +/- $100
  • Power Plucker…..$35

Savings $865

4. Lung Scraper

lung scraper


It is important to clean out the body cavity, and its easy to miss the lungs. The lung scraper is a tool that helps remove them. But a $28 tool that only ever removes chicken lungs seems a bit pricey to me.

We went to our local Walmart, and for 3 dollars, found two small stiff bathroom brushes. The front bristles are very stiff, and not only remove the lungs completely, but are a great tool for scrubbing the whole cavity clean. (and yes, I know this is the grossest tool on the list)

2 men butchering and cleaning chicken on cutting boards

  • bathroom brush……$3

Savings $25

5. Drying Rack

chicken drying rack

Once the chickens are ready to be bagged, its helpful to have a stand to place each bird on, and let them drip dry before being placed in a shrink wrap bag. This stand is both time consuming to make, and not dirt cheap, as you need to buy all the PVC pip, and fittings for it.

While you’re at walmart getting the ‘lung scrubbers’, grab yourself a few paper towel holders. These were each a few bucks, I think $4, but they’re ready to go right away and are still cheaper than all that PVC! Make sure they are the kind shown in the picture, it needs two bends in the metal, to place the chicken on.


  • 4 Paper Towel Holders ……….$16

Savings +/- $30

Now let me be honest. A camp Chef is not going to give you regulated temperature. You will have to monitor the heat. You can’t just toss 3 birds into the Power Plucker and forget about it. I understand that these tools are a time trade off. But at a savings of $2,520, I will invite a few friends over to help, buy a case of Blue Moon, and enjoy the slower pace.

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This post was shared at the Homestead Barn Hop on Weed ’em & Reap

and the From the Farm Blog Hop on The Mind to Homestead


This entry was written by Aust and published on May 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm. It’s filed under chicken and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “Bootstrap Butchering- How To Process Meat Chickens on the Cheap!

  1. Mary Zeman on said:

    Cool, I was imagining making a lung puller out of a couple of cheap salad forks(left and right) but I can se the brush working better and being easier to clean. Thanks, Mary at Hillbilly Hatchery, Arenal, Costa Rica

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