I got myself more organised on Sunday and butchered 9 more chickens.
I set up a patio table with chopping boards on that could be scrubbed down (this is waste sheet material that can be thrown away afterwards). I sharpened my knife, had a steel to sharpen it as I went and two bowls of hot soapy water to keep everything clean.
I also had two buckets, one for feathers (that can be composted) and one for feet and guts. I also had some plastic feed sacks on hand, one to sit on (it had rained in the night) and one to have on my lap to stop the wet birds from soaking my trousers.
A large saucepan of water was also warming on the BBQ.
The birds for slaughter were pulled out before they'd been fed and kept in a crate away from the others until their time came.
I started with batched but found it was far better to do one at a time, slaughter, drain, dip in hot water, pluck.
None of them went very quickly but I learnt that having the water the right temperature makes a huge difference. Unfortunately my thermometer doesn't seem to work so I just had to guess. One bird was dipped too hot so I ended up skinning that one as the skin ripped too easily.
Once I had all the birds plucked I then wiped down and set up for gutting, never a nice job but it went quite quickly.
I separated the birds up into ones that looked good as whole birds and ones that were better jointed. I kept five birds whole and cut the others into breasts, whole legs and wings.
I then used my new vacuum packer to bag the birds up and separate the jointed ones into meal sized portions. Three legs or breasts seemed about right for our family.
I bagged and froze the stripped carcasses as well so I can make a big batch of stock when I get chance.
I certainly felt more organised this time and it went without a hitch. That said there as some things I'd change:
- I'd like a chicken plucker, it's not great doing them by hand.
- I need a bigger saucepan or something to hot dip the birds into, mine is only just big enough and soon needs topping up with more hot water.
- The bench I butchered them on was too low, my back was hurting as I was bending the whole time, I proper work bench would be ideal.
- An outside sink would help an amazing amount, something I might have to consider installing!
So some hard work, but the freezer has certainly been stocked up!
I've still got six birds left and I'll leave these a while longer to see how big they get, it would be great to have some big ones to save having to buy a turkey for Christmas.
What do you think? Is there anything you'd do differently to how I set it up this time?