Killing and Cleaning a Chicken

Yesterday a friend called and asked for some help with their chickens.  Although they have been raising chickens for eggs for a few months, they had never butchered one.  My wife and I went over and my wife showed them how, while I took pictures.  So we though a post on how to kill and clean chickens was appropriate for today

It is really pretty simple.  First, make sure you have a sharp ax and a good chopping block.  Catch the chicken.  At this point, we like to tie their feet so they are easy to hang after they are dispatched.  Lay the chicken on the chopping block.  You should be able to cleanly remove the head with one good swing of the ax.  The chickens nerves will react and the chicken will flap their wings and even run around if the legs are not tied.  At this point, we hang the chickens up and let them bleed out.  My friend is into composting and had a bucket with dry grass in it to catch the blood so he could put it on his compost pile


Chicken hanging up to bleed out

After the chickens are, bleed out the next step is to pluck them.  We prefer plucking to skinning because it saves the fat.  In a real emergency, there is no sense in wasting calories.  Bring a large pot of water to a good rolling boil.  Dunk the chicken two to three times in the boiling water.  Don’t leave it in to long, you are not trying to cook it.

Dunking chicken in pot of boiling water

As soon as the chicken has been duck, start plucking the feathers.  They should come out easily.  In an emergency situation, you may want to consider saving the feathers.  While they are not as effective an insulator as down, they will work in homemade sleeping bags.  During WW2 the US military used a combination of chicken feathers and down in their sleeping bags.

Plucking chicken

Next comes the messy part.  Take a small sharp knife, 3 – 6 inch blade and make an incision length ways from the rib cage to the butt.  The incision should be bout 3 to 4 inches in length.  Do not make this cut to deep or you will rupture the intestines and ruin the meat.  Reach in and pull the internal organs out.  You can now separate the liver, heart and gizzard out.

The incision in chicken for removing internal organs.

Now you need to remove the crop.  This is a sack located at the base of the neck.  It contains the food that they have most recently eaten.  Make a small incision at the base of the neck just under the skin.  You should be able to feel the soft sack.  Cut around it and ease it out.  The only thing left to do is to cut the feet off.  Wash your chicken out well and it is ready to be cut up and cooked.

Removing crop from just below neck.



1 thought on “Killing and Cleaning a Chicken”

  1. Matt in Oklahoma

    What you mean it doesn’t grow from styrofoam?!? LOL
    Listen to what Howard is saying, this is the time to learn, not SHTF, get with a real hunter or animal owner who knows the how too’s and learn now. It’s important to find real hunters who can because there are way too many that walk 1/4 mile then shoot off a feeder then haul it to the butcher. They can’t help you SHTF. Same with farmer/ranchers.
    I actually taught some folks to bone out a deer this week that we took. We process our own game from field to table. They were worried about messing it up. I told them they couldnt mess it up so bad I couldnt grind it so no worries. We ate some awesome grilled backstrap and summer sausage this weekend while learning to make soap.

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