Saturday we hosted our first on farm class of the year. It was our Raising and Processing Meat Chickens class, and what a perfect day for it! Sunny and 65°!
This was our smallest group, due to a few cancellations, but the group did an amazing job turning their birds into beautiful roasters for the table.
Mother and daughter Sonya and Rebecca had raised egg laying chickens in the past, and now were interested in raising their own meat birds so they could have a corn and soy free animal. Seana, a Mother from New York, and her family are starting down their own farm path. She had previously butchered a chicken once before and wanted to freshen up on the process.
After a discussion of what raising the birds takes and a tour of the coops, the group was ready to process their own birds.
Rebecca took the first leap. I always am amazed to see the group of students work together. Every group collectively helps the individuals who make up the whole. All eventually get through the first, and hardest step, of killing the animal.
It is a hard thing to take a life, and the students did an excellent job of quickly, humanly, and respectfully handling this responsibility.
Cleaning, Scalding, plucking, plucking and more plucking…
Our students learned how to use the Power Plucker, a drill attachment that speeds up the process. Then they take their birds to the line.
It is important, when processing any animal, to observe some basic rules to insure cleanliness. One is to keep the process linear and moving in one direction. The birds start in one spot, and move forward, never going backward. This allows the birds to get cleaner and cleaner down the line, never placing a finished bird, with feathers removed, back where the gutting or plucking was performed.
On the line, first head and feet are removed. Then the guts are taken out. Finally, a quality control inspection is made, where the person inspects their bird for pin feathers, and any last remaining innards, and removes any still left.
The final technique our students learned, is how to shrink-wrap the chicken, so they can last in your freezer. If your planning on raising your own meat chickens, you will be butchering large batches of birds. We usually raise 50, and those birds need to be able to last months in the freezer. shrink-wrap bags do a great job of keeping our birds over the winter months.
Our Students all did an excellent job with their birds. The final product was ready for the center spot on the dinner table, back at their homesteads. And more importantly, the students left ready to raise their own, for years to come!
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