I do raise chickens solely for meat.  I order the chicks from McMurray Hatchery – they call them the BBQ Special.  It’s a good thing that I know from the moment those chicks arrive that they are intended for the table.  During those 14 – 18 weeks, I get a little bit attached…

This last group of meat chickens looked great by the time we were scheduled to butcher them.  They had grown out nicely and spent time being chickens, scratching in the dirt and eating lots of bugs.

I tried something new – the killing cones.  A friend let me borrow hers and they’re wonderful.

Once the chicken was caught….

…it was put in the cone.

We did 4 chickens at a time.  I had seen a video by a well respected farmer and he cut the carotid  arteries on the side of the neck.  I tried this method and it was much more peaceful for the birds… and for me.  No thrashing – I don’t like that part.

Sawyer kept watch to make sure everything was done correctly.

I had 2 roosters that had to go.  There were 3 roosters in the hen house and that meant 2 were headed for the stew pot.  Their meat is a little tough but still very good for stews and soup.

See the spurs?  Those are the pointy things sticking out of the side of the legs.  They hurt like crazy when a rooster attacks you.  Fortunately for my guys, they had never come after me …

…and that’s why they had lived this long!

I don’t have one of those fancy  de-feather machines.  And I don’t like to pluck.  So I take off all the skin with the feathers.

We then rinse the chickens with the hose and put them into ice cold water in a cooler until we get several chickens processed.

The chickens are taken into the house where they’re washed thoroughly.

The sink and counters have been washed down with diluted bleach water before any of the chickens come inside.

I pre-wrap mine in plastic before I vacuum seal them.  Two reasons:  it keeps the birds compact – no legs or wings sticking out in weird ways; secondly, it keeps the moisture from being sucked out by the vacuum sealer.

Next, into the vacuum bag….

…sealed and dated.

Butchering chickens isn’t high on my list of favorite fun activities but I sure am grateful for the opportunity.  I know how my chickens have been raised, I know what they’ve eaten, and I know how humane the butchering process is for them.  I thank each one of them before they die for providing food for my family.  I don’t ever want to get to the point where I take a life for granted.