Introduction: How to Butcher a Chicken

Butchering animals has become a major part of my life due to it being cheaper than buying meat from a store. My parents have raised animals for food for the last four years now, and I have gotten a lot of experience in how the process works on three different kinds of animals. The one I am most proficient in butchering is a chicken. There are many ways to butcher a chicken though. This tutorial will go over the process with skin still on the animal. It includes the materials and methods that are put necessary for a successful butcher of chickens.

Step 1: Supplies

There should be around two different knives and a knife sharper. Make sure the knives stay sharp the entire time; the risk of slipping and cutting one’s self is higher with a dull knife.A wire will also be necessary. A tree or something to hang the chicken is required as well. For the de-feathering I used a propane burner along with a canning pot filled with water, but a big enough pot would work as well. Make sure that there is a torch for the burner and for singing off the hair-like feathers. When we were gutting and prepping, we used cardboard to keep things clean, but a cutting table would work for this part. During this instructable butcher paper was used. It is good to have a wastebasket for both feathers and guts. Finally, have a clean source of water for rinsing the birds.

Step 2: Setting Up

The beginning step in the actual process is getting set up. If using a propane tank burner, make sure the propane tank is full. The pot that is big enough to hold the chicken needs to be filled with water. Make sure that the pot is not filled to the brim because then it will spill over when the chicken is dipped inside. The pot then needs to be placed on the propane burner. The propane tank will need to be attached to the burner and the valve released. Light the propane on fire with a lighter or the spark starter if the burner being used has one. If using cardboard to keep a mess of where the butchering takes place, that needs to be set as well.

Step 3: Bleeding the Bird

The first thing to know is to not kill the bird right away. After catching the chicken, it needs a wire wrapped around its leg and to be hung upside down from a tree or other high hanging place where it can’t be damaged by blood. Make sure the wire can wrap around the chicken’s leg and the item that the bird will be hanging from while still leaving some wire in between. After hanging the bird, cut its neck. Do not cut the neck all the way through. The chicken will bleed out faster if it isn’t killed right away. When there is no more blood coming out of the chicken’s neck, cut the neck the rest of the way through.

Step 4: Preparing to Defeather

After detaching the chicken from the wire, it needs to be dipped in hot water. Hands need to be kept wrapped around the chicken’s legs, and don’t dip so far as to be scalded by the hot water. Don’t keep the bird in the water too long while also bobbing it up and down. This is to keep the chicken from being cooked. What this process does is make the feathers easier to pull off with little resistance. Around 5-10 seconds of this should be enough for it to be ready to pluck.

Step 5: DeFeathering

While plucking, make sure to be careful, especially with areas like the breasts and back. All the feathers must be removed. The feathers all along the wings will have the most resistance when trying to remove them. This is fine because in this area, the skin is not as fragile. All the small, sometimes not feathery looking feathers are called pinfeathers. These need to be removed as well. Make sure this whole time that the feathers are being put in a waste container to reduce the required cleanup. There will be many small feathers that are hard to be removed by hand. They can usually be burned off by quickly running a torch over the chicken’s body. Don’t leave the torch over any part of the body for any period of time. Doing so will cause the skin to contract, break, and possibly burn it.

Step 6: Removing the Legs and Gullet

When the chicken has finally been plucked, it is time to move onto the gutting. Bring the chicken to the cutting table or the cardboard covered table. Make sure that the knife used to cut the chicken’s neck is not used for gutting. The knife being used needs to remain sharp at all times. For convenience, it is better to cut the chicken’s legs off before the gutting process begins. The first cut of gutting needs to be done at the base of the neck. This particular place is a hollow between the ribs and the neck. The gullet then needs to be pulled into a position that is better to work with. The gullet is where the food is stored before moving to the gizzard. Depending on if they feed that day and/or the night before, the size may be large or small. Filled gullets are easier to find, but unfilled gullets are easier to work with. Find the place of the gullet where it tapers into a small tube. Cut the gullet out at this point to prevent the chicken’s food from being spilled on the meat. Throw this into the waste bucket.

Step 7: Removing Internal Organs

The next cut needs to be done around the butt. While making this cut, make sure the blade cuts through the fat but does not cut the intestines. When done cutting a hand should be able to reach in and scoop out all of the organs. Since the gullet has already been cut off, almost everything should slide out pretty easily. Everything pulled out can be placed in the waste unless the gizzard is wanted. It is a red lump of meat with a little bit of blue covering it. The last thing to be pulled out is the lungs. These are attached to the ribs upper section. They can be removed easily by running a finger along the indents between the ribs. The lungs should be then placed in the wastebasket.

Step 8: Washing

Now that the chicken is gutted, it needs to be washed. Make

sure to use clean water. The temperature doesn’t matter because this is just for removing blood or dirt. For this I use a hose, but a bucket of water would work as well. This is also the final step in butchering a chicken. I hope this was helpful. Stay safe while using the knives.