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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 11:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:17 pm
Posts: 83
Location: Narrogin Western Australia (Twilight Zone)
The birds.

Check whether the pin feathers (newly sprouted feathers) are visible. Ideally you want none so that plucking is easier. Catch a bird and have a look on the breast, back and on the thigh. If they are heavily pin feathered consider leaving them or skinning them. I start checking at 10 weeks of age and try to butcher at 12-13 weeks. This gives a good size carcass with good flavour.

I withhold all food the day before but keep water in the pen. If you take the water away as well the birds will dehydrate and stress, something I like to avoid. The pen is small to make capture easier and close enough to the killing area to make proceedings efficient and to again reduce the stress on the bird.

OK, water is hot, knife is sharp, catch a bird. When you catch it take it straight to the frame and, with practised ease :wink: insert the bird head down into the cone with the breast facing you. Before you push it all the way down feed the head through the hole. This is where the advantage of the cone comes in. The bird is pretty well secured and if you hold the head and give a slight downward pressure the throat is easy to access. Just under the head is where I cut it, going from one "ear" to the other. Then a quick and firm bend of the neck rearwards will hopefully break it. The bird will continue to kick for a bit so hold the head for 30 seconds or so so the bulk of the blood empties into the small container. When the bird has quietened down remove from the cone and hook into the hangers as per the pic in Part 1. I do four or five at a time so that by the time the last one is being hung I am ready to pluck.

Have the plucker set up so that you flow through from the slaughter area with minimal fuss. Take the bird by the head and dip it in the water for 30-60 seconds at a time, depending on the type and size of bird. When a tail feather separates easily from the carcass turn the bird around and holding the legs repeat with the head end if your pot is too small to do it in one go. Then pluck the bugger. I find that if doing it by hand plucking in the direction of the feathers gives a better result, but practice makes perfect. If you over scald the bird it will be more likely to tear, not enough and you will have a hard job getting the feathers out. You may have to reheat the water in between birds. If you skin the bird carefully make a slit along the back bone and use your fingers to work the skin away from the flesh. You may need a little knife work as well. This is a lot quicker and ideal if you want pieces for casseroles, curries etc.

The next step is clearing the internals. Make a T cut with the cross bar of the T on the tail side of the cloaca and CAREFULLY make the other cut to within 2cm of the breast bone. Keep this cut shallow to avoid nicking the intestines. Cutting the intestines will result in contamination of the meat, and the smell is something you really want to avoid! :spew: Carefully get three fingers behind the intestines and gently pull them out. At the end of the intestines is the gizzard put this in your offal bowl if you use it. Then in with your fingers again and out come the other organs. When the liver comes out carefully cut the gall bladder containing the bitter green fluid. If this gets on the meat or your fingers wash immediately, the flavour is not pleasant! The lungs will be still in there so scrape about until they too are out. Because I withheld the food for about 24 hours the crop should be empty and with a good solid pull from inside the oesophagus/crop will come away with little drama. Feel free to remove the head and feet at this stage. Of course if you just want breast meat and legs just use your filleting knife to separate these pieces. You won't have to gut at all then.

Now we head inside.

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