I have been processing my own chickens for a while now. Along the way, I have learned that to make the process easy for you and your chickens, it is good to have the right chicken processing equipment.
This will not only make the butchering process shorter but also leave you with some energy to enjoy your meat birds. Whether you are a beginner or an expert in processing meat birds, the following tools will come in handy.
Knife for processing chickens
A knife is one tool you cannot do without when processing chickens. The ideal knife for processing chickens should be sharp and easy to hold. There are several knives you can use on chicken.
A boning knife is the most used knife for slaughtering chickens. While they may come in different designs and brands, they share similar features.
A boning knife has a long thin flexible blade with a sharp tip. It makes it easy to pierce chicken meat. It can cut through tissues and debone meat from chickens. Knives for processing chickens should be always sharp so as not to struggle while using them.
What is the use for a knife, if it is not sharp? When processing chickens, you need your knife to be as sharp as possible so as to make quick cuts. They shorten the process of killing chickens.
There are different types of knife sharpeners. These include electric sharpeners, handheld sharpeners, sharpening stones, serrated knife sharpeners, and honing/sharpening steels.
Electric Knife Sharpeners use a combination of sharpening stones with different courses in the sharpening and honing (maintaining sharpness) of the knives. They make use of their different sharpening stones in each of the steps. The first step uses a coarse grit for sharpening while the last step uses a fine grit for honing. Electric Knife sharpeners make the process easy because you do not have to use physical energy. They make it possible to sharpen multiple knives in a short time.
Handheld Knife sharpeners are similar to electric sharpeners in that they have multiple sharpening slots but differ in the sense that handheld sharpeners make use of physical energy. They are easily portable.
Sharpening stones are flat blocks of stones. Novaculite, Aluminum Oxide, and Silicon carbide are the 3 types of sharpening stones used in sharpening knives. Novaculite is found naturally while Aluminium Oxide and Silicon Carbide are factory-made.
Honing Steels are used to maintain the sharpness of already sharp blades. While they do minimal sharpening, they are not supposed to sharpen dull blades. They come in different materials. The most common ones are regular cut steels, diamond steels, combination steels, and ceramic cut steels.
Serrated knife sharpeners are used to sharpen serrated blades. This is due to the unique shape of serrated knife blades.
Restraining Killing Cone
A killing cone is a funnel-shaped device made of galvanized material. The killing cone is usually mounted on a firm vertical surface.
Killing cones work by restraining a chicken, duck, geese, or turkey. The bird is placed head side down into the killing cone, with the head protruding from the bottom of the cone. After the neck is slit, birds usually flap their wings. A killing cone restrains them from doing this. A killing cone also makes it easier to drain blood from birds, as it holds the head down.
Killing cones come in different sizes ranging from small to XXL. Make sure you choose the right size of killing cone so that your bird is neither too small or too big for the cone.
If you keep different breeds of chickens, you will need to have multiple killing cones of various sizes. An example is that for a mature cornish cross, you will need to have a killing cone that has a height of 18 inches, 5 inches diameter at the bottom, and 39 inches diameter at the top. If you are processing the cornish cross.
Chicken Feather Plucker
After killing your chickens, you will need to pluck the feathers. This can be done manually or use of automated pluckers.
Manual plucking can work for a small number of chickens. It can be time-consuming if you are processing many chickens.
Automated pluckers come in different forms. These are drill attached chicken pluckers and barrel pluckers.
As the name suggests, drill-attached chicken pluckers are powered by a drill. They take a bit of time to get used to, but in the end, they get the job done.
Automated barrel pluckers work out of the box. They are powered by either propane or electricity. They come in different sizes and can hold a varying number of birds, depending on the size of the plucker and the size of the chicken.
Chicken scalders heat water and keep it at a certain temperature in order to scald chicken skins order to loosen the feathers. This makes it easy for the plucker to do its work. If plucking manually, the scalder will loosen the feathers, making it easier for your hands to do the work.
Like barrel chicken pluckers, chicken scalders come in different sizes. They are powered by either propane or electricity.
It is important to note that you will need to match your chicken scalder with the chicken plucker in terms of capacity. This will ensure you are not scalding chickens faster than your plucker can handle.
You do not have to purchase a chicken scalder. You can use a big pot, alongside a propane burner and tank to do the work.
If your chicken plucker and chicken scalder are powered by propane, you will need to have propane tanks. Compared to electric pluckers and scalders, propane-powered scalders and pluckers make them portable, in that you can move them around your backyard or homestead.
If you are using a big pot to do the scalding, you will need a propane burner to heat the water. Some propane burners come with more than one burner and can make scalding faster in that you place the chicken carcass in multiple pots.