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Slaughtering Humanely

I just read a great write up by Christopher on his food blog at All about the first time he slaughtered some roosters.

The thing I admire is that Christopher wasn't afraid to give it a go. People tend to shrink back from the yucky parts of cooking like cleaning tripe, meat, game and so on.

Heres how to go about it

Start by making up about 10 loops of thick string big enough to put your fist through.
Hold the bird with your fore-arm against your body and loop the double string around both legs and through itself. Immediately hang the bird up on a wire hook from the looped end of string. (A washing line is good and your wife will never know because sure as anything she is NOT going to be there for chicken slaughtering!!)

The whole operation must be done with resolve and firmness. If you dither you will end up botching the killing.

Take hold of the head and gently pull it down with your left hand if you are right handed and slice the left side of the neck firmly to the bone with a very sharp knife. Immediately stand back. The chicken is very quickly unconscious from the rapid drop in blood pressure, but there is a violent muscular action that jerks the fowl around for about a minute and can spray that blood everywhere.

If you dont fancy this method then use a sharp pair of kitchen shears and cut the whole head off right next to the head. It probably wont disengage from the body, but you break the neck which instantly kills the bird.

I tie and kill one bird at a time because I dont want to leave a row of birds hanging upside down whilst they watch their pals gyrate in their death throes.
Cut the head right off.
Wait for 2 or 3 minutes then get ready to pluck. Hold the legs and dip the bird in hot water 145F to 155 F and plunge it up and down for three seconds. Remove and see if the wing feathers can pull out. If still difficult then dunk it a few more times. The temperature definitely needs to be in that range and you need to dunk the water to the skin. Don't use hotter water, you will dis-color the skin. You can add a good squeeze of lemon or plain dishwashing liquid to the hot water. It helps the water to penetrate past the oily layers of feathers.

To gut the bird.
Kitchen or sharp hair dressing scissors(remember the wife is out!!) or by far the best. Just use the tips though so you don't pierce the intestines. Cut all around the bung. You can cut quite a big piece of skin loose with the bung attached. If you make a small snip you can then get the scissors under the skin and avoid the pipe work. Extend the sides of the cut to get your hand inside. Then wriggle your hand in and work the innards loose. Work all the way forwards to the crop and try and scoop the whole lot out in one piece. Rinse rinse and rinse again with running water. You probably wont get it right the first time and the whole process may take hours. But by the 4th or 5th bird you will be doing them in about 15 to 20 minutes from slaughter.
Final dressing:
To dress the bird for roasting or grilling, you just need to work the neck skin back and snip off as much of the neck as possible. Chop off the legs where the scaly part begins just below or at the joint. Then position the legs and wings neatly. Fold the neck flap over the cavity and tuck any skin at the vent into the cavity. It works nicely if you use clingfilm to hold everything in place. Then chill it or freeze it.