Getting Our Broiler Chickens Processed

We recently got our broiler chickens processed.  This year’s outcome was so much different from last year.  You can read about those adventure here if you are interested.

This year was completely different thankfully.  I changed some of the ways that I handled things with the chicks this year.  For example, I kept the chicks in the brooder for 3 weeks instead of the 10 days that I did last year.  Also, I gave them the vitamin stress pack that I purchased each day until it was completely gone instead of once a week or so like I did last year.  The vitamin pack lasted about 4 or 5 weeks out of their 7 to 8 weeks before processing.  Another thing was that this Spring was much warmer and there was hardly any rain, unlike last year.  I think all of these factors helped us to have a much better year this year.

This year we had one casualty when the chicks were a day old.  They actually gave us 26 chicks on our order of 25, so we processed 25 birds this year.

The price for processing was $74.50.  This included 2 twenty pound bags of ice.  I purchased 2 gallon Ziploc bags before I took the chickens in to be processed.  That was about $12.50, but I had 5 bags left over.  They sell bags at the processing place for $.50 each, so that would have been the same price, but without the leftover bags, so I save a few cents there.

My son and I got up on the day of processing at 6:15 a.m. because we had a 7:30 appointment.  We loaded the birds into 2 big rabbit cages on the back of the pick-up truck and took them the half-hour drive to the processing plant.

We only waited a few minutes before it was our turn.

I always watch them kill the birds to make sure nobody suffers.  I couldn’t take knowing that they suffered.  This is a great operation.  The birds are pulled from the cages and killed within 30 seconds.  None suffered at all.  The most stress for the birds is the travelling to the butcher, I think.  They are in the back of the pick-up with the wind blowing and bumping along the road when they are used to stable ground.  Of course none of this hurts the birds, but I am telling you what I think would cause the most stress.

At our processor, after killing the birds at one end of a building, you can see them heat the birds to loosen the feathers, and tumble the birds until all the feathers are gone.  Then they wash the birds to get all of the dirt and debris and manure off of them.  Then they put them into bins to go into the building where they do the actual butchering.

We took the truck and drove around to the other side of the building and got our containers ready.  They told us the price for the processing and the ice.  We paid and they put the birds in our containers.  We put the birds into the back of the truck, poured ice on them, put the lids on the containers and were on our way home.  This whole process took 30 minutes.  I checked my watch and we had a 7:30 appointment, and we were completely finished and driving home at 8:00 a.m.

When we got home, we put the containers in the garage to get them out of the sun.  I checked on them every 15 or 20 minutes to make sure there was enough ice and water to cool them down.  You have to wait about 4 hours or until the chickens cool to 40 degrees before putting them in the freezer.  I waited the correct time, I didn’t use a thermometer to check, but I could have.  I just know that when I was bagging the birds for the freezer, the birds were really cold, and the ice water was freezing!

I bagged the birds in the garage where my freezer is located.  I made sure my freezer which became my countertop was clean.  I took the birds out of the ice water and placed them on clean towels to let the excess water drip off to help avoid freezer burn.  I put 3 birds on each beach towel.  I  patted them dry and put them in the freezer bag.  I did this for all 25 birds.  Then I put them in one section of the freezer to make sure they were this year’s birds, and not last years.

After finishing the birds, I checked the freezer for last year’s birds and found one, so I pulled it out to eat and now I know that all of the birds left are this year’s.

After getting the birds put in the freezer.  I cleaned the freezer, put the towels in the washer and dryer on sanitize.  I sprayed the bins with cleaner and let them sit for an hour.  I washed everything thoroughly.

This was any easy way to get a year’s worth of whole chickens for the crock pot.  I know what the birds ate, and drank.  I know that they are hormone free.  I how they were treated kindly and that they had a good life.

The broiler chickens the day before processing.

The broiler chickens sitting in ice water cooling down.  I had already started drying and bagging them at this point which is why some are sitting on top of the ice water.

Letting the birds drip off the excess water before patting them dry and putting them into the freezer.

A few birds bagged and ready for the freezer.

The birds in the freezer! Yeah.

Making sure everything was clean after touching the birds.

Washing and drying the towels on sanitize to make sure all the germs are killed.

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