Poultry processing equipment makes butchering chickens and other domestic birds easier. The supplies for butchering will vary, however, these 8 tools for butchering chickens, turkeys, and waterfowl easily cut the processing time to half.
Processing livestock will leave you full of emotions, drained, and thankful. The ability to raise and humanely dispatch chickens, turkeys, waterfowl and other fowl is a true blessing. One which homesteaders and small farmers truly understand.
The livestock which homesteaders and farmers raise are humanely cared for. Unlike factory farms, even free-range facilities, our poultry are raised seeing the sunshine, rain, and grass.
We, as homesteaders or small farmers, have the ability to monitor each bird for optimal health and offer a high quality feed such as whole grains. In addition to the whole grains the opportunity to ferment them provides amazing benefits for the flock.
Learning how to fermente whole grain chicken feed is extremely easy to do. In addition to being easy to make, it is quite healthy for your flock.
Regardless of whether the livestock is on the property for 8 weeks or years, we owe it to the animal, and ourselves, to raise them humanely. This includes humanely dispatching them to feed ourselves.
The supplies for butchering will vary property to property. The only tip I can give is this, eventually, you will own everything on this list. How you quickly you own them is up to you.
Selecting the Best Poultry Processing Equipment
Over the years the supplies, tools, and larger appliances we use as poultry processing equipment has changed. Primarily this was due to gaining confidence in the process and seeking a simpler, more efficient way of dispatching and dressing our birds.
I would say, after 4 years, we officially have a set-up which works extremely well for us. Prior to purchasing a plucker, hand-plucking was the tool of choice for removing feathers. And in truth, hand-plucking over 30 birds will humble you.
There are many DIY videos available on how to make your own butchering items, and some of them are brilliant. However, what I’ve learned is this, using materials which is easy to clean and able to be sterilized is a must.
In addition to this, purchasing a brand which stands behind their product allows for any issues to be rectified quickly. There is nothing worse than getting ready to process 50 or more birds and the equipment is faulty.
Tools for Butchering Chickens and other Poultry.
Those who are new to processing their own meat often look past the not so obvious tools for butchering chickens and other poultry. The items listed in this section are ones which should not be skipped if you are planning on raising and harvesting your own poultry for years to come.
Learn everything you need to know about raising Cornish Cross and other broiler birds prior to incorporating them onto the property.
Dispatching chickens can happen in multiple ways. The first being a quick blow to the neck with an ax, however, there things about this method which do not work. Bruising to the meat due to vigorous flapping, even at times causing broken wings. The bird does not have time to bleed out which slightly alters the flavor of the meat.
Another method is to break the neck using your hands. Sadly, for individuals like myself, I do not have the muscle strength to utilize this traditional method.
The final way is to utilize a kill cone, a much more humane method for dispatching poultry.
For those who will be dispatching poultry alone, kill cones are a great option. And in truth, quite humane.
Hanging birds upside down prior to putting them in the cone causes the blood to rush to the head, hence, causing them to pass out. At this point you will sever the main artery in the neck. The bird feels very little, to nothing, during this time.
As the blood drains from the body, the kill cone, for lack of better words, hugs the bird. Preventing it from thrashing around due to involuntary muscle reaction.
Kill cones are available in multiple sizes, from XS to XXL. We have both the large and XL cones which work well for chickens, broiler birds, and ducks. We process our turkeys using a different method.
The style of a kill cone is very important. Select a cone which is wide in the body area with a slightly wide opening for the head.
Why is this important? The Cornish Cross broilers have wide bodies with shorter necks. Narrow cones with smaller openings do not work well with this type of broiler chicken breed. For this reason we like the Little Giant Kill Cones.
One last tip, place a bucket under the kill cone to catch the blood.
A good knife set is important for butchering chickens, poultry, and small game animals. Most individuals use the same knife for dispatching as they would for dressing poultry or small game.
Personally, I prefer a set which has multiple knife options like the Outdoor Edge set. It is important the kit come with a knife sharpener. Cutting through bone and cartilage quickly dulls the sharpness of the blade.
Poultry Shrink Bags, Butcher Paper, and Vacuum Sealer
Properly storing processed meat long-term is necessary to prevent freezer burn. With that said, ziplock freezer bags are not sufficient for storing meat or vegetables long-term.
To keep harvested meat good for at least one year or longer invest in proper packing to do so.
- Poultry shrink wrap bags – ideal for packing whole poultry and small game such as rabbits. The backbone of poultry once it has been debones is best in poultry bags. Zip-ties and plastic straws on are necessary when using shrink wrap bags.
- Vacuum Sealer – This tool is amazing for storing poultry and small game which has been deboned. Vacuum seal as much as needed to create a meal out of the breast, wings, drumsticks, or thighs.
- Butcher Paper – Storing smaller, more structured cuts such as breast meat, quarter legs, and wings works great in butcher paper. However, storing whole poultry is difficult in butcher paper.
Our preferred method for storing poultry and small game is in poultry shrink bags or vacuum sealed bags. Yes, it is a lot of plastic, however, the meat will be protected long-term creating minimal to no waste of the harvested meat.
Poultry Processing Equipment
The poultry processing equipment listed here will help to expedite the process for dressing the poultry. Especially when a large amount of poultry are being butchered at a time.
A deep scalding pot is worth its weight in gold. Homesteaders or small farms who processing ducks, geese, or turkeys will need a scalding pot wide and deep enough to fully submerge the bird.
Processing large breed ducks such as Silver Appleyards and Muscovys require deep pots, whereas scalding turkeys will require a much larger scalder. Because the cost of a XXL pot is quite spendy, we opt to scald our turkeys in a small galvanized feed can in partnership with a stand alone propane stove.
As with any type of cookware we prefer stainless steel. However, for those on a budget there are large deep aluminum pots available. Take a look at the options below and select one based on your budget:
- Set | Stainless steel scalding pot (44 quart capacity) and propane stove set
- Stand alone propane stove
- Stainless steel pot (62 quart capacity)
- Aluminum pot (42 quart capacity)
- Set | Aluminum scalding pot (42 quart capacity) and propane stove set
Hand Pluck, Drill Plucker, Yardbird Plucker
I believe the right of passage into raising meat birds is to learn the skill of hand plucking. Then, and only then, does one truly value what it takes to put homegrown meat onto our plates.
Prior to purchasing an electric Yardbird plucker, the handheld drill plucker was a tool we used to expedite the plucking process. It is an efficient tool, however, it is easier to manipulate when two individuals are present. One to hold the bird, the other to control the drill plucker.
We have since made the switch and invested in the Yardbird Plucker. The desire to own our food source made purchasing this large electric drum plucker worth the investment. This appliance expedites the processing by more than half of the time it takes to hand pluck poultry. Making it one of the best supplies for butchering we have purchased.
The Necessary Supplies for Butchering (kitchen items)
Aside from the tools for butchering chickens and poultry mentioned above the following kitchen supplies are also used on processing day:
- Mixing bowl – lovingly referred to as the dipping bowl. The mixing bowl is filled with water, making removal of feathers and such on the hand much more convenient than using the hose.
- Stainless Steel Baking Sheets – 24 X 16 baking sheets are used in place of wood cutting boards or table tops.
- Kitchen Shears – poultry shears or heavy duty kitchen shears are used to remove the neck, wingtips, or spine.
- Dawn Dishsoap – a few drops added to the scalding pot will help loosen the feathers and cut through the oil released from the birds.
The supplies for butchering listed here are tips and tricks which I’ve learned over the years. At times the best tools for butchering chickens and other poultry are everyday items from the kitchen.
The Essential Poultry Processing Equipment | Tools for Butchering Chickens and other Poultry
Thinking back, knowing what I know now, I would have invested in the necessary supplies for butchering we use now, prior to waiting.
I remember the days of boiling pot, after pot of water to scald the poultry. Hanging birds from the twine hay came in. And cramping in my hands due to hand plucking 30 to 50 birds in a day. But more important, the horrible knives we used because we knew no better.
It did take us years to get to this point, but oddly enough, we had the time to get here. Nowadays, with the destruction of our food source, it has become an urgent need to own our food source. Make your experience much more efficient by investing in the necessary poultry processing equipment now.