This week marks the third week we’ve been back in the chicken processing saddle. We do our own birds as well as custom chicken processing for others. I got some pictures of the process for the interested….
We strive to make this as stress-free for the birds as possible, so the night before processing the guys go out well after dark to gather the birds. They are gently loaded into crates ( to avoid upset birds and broken wings) and then carried to the shop. There they spend the night so that we don’t have to disturb them in the morning when they are more alert. Kyle is loading birds into cones. He will then cut their jugular veins so that they bleed out well. The birds basically just drift off to sleep, keeping stress hormones out of their system and making the process as humane as possible.
The birds get a bath in the scalder, then a ride in the plucker. The fingers of the plucker to a good job of removing the feathers leaving only a few stubborn tail feathers.
Sam gets the chickens next. His job is to remove the head, feet, and any leftover feathers. In his spare moments he entertains himself with dancing chickens.
Mark has the next station. He removes the crop and opens up the back end of the bird for Joe. Joe is the eviserator, removing the insides and doing the last check on the bird. From Joe, they go into water baths. We’ve found this to be the most efficient way to cool the carcass quickly with our low tech equipment. Once cooled, the birds are packaged either whole or in whatever pieces were ordered. They go out fresh to some customers, or get placed in our quick-freeze freezer.
That’s the basic process!