Meat chickens training course

We went on a course today. The title says it all, really. “Kill, Pluck, Gut, and Bone”.

If we’re going to breed our own chickens next year, then all the boys and some of the girls will be destined for the freezer. Ixworths are, after all, dual purpose birds, and the meat is reputedly delicious. But if we’re going to raise birds for the table, then we need to be able to cull them humanely and efficiently.

Alison at Hook Farm Smallholding Skills Meat Chicken Course did a superb job. There were only 4 people on today’s course (maximum is 6), so we got plenty of individual help and advice.

For both of us, the big question was whether we’d be able to kill a bird properly. Alison’s favoured technique was instant, straightforward, and at least for Jean and me, bloodless. We were both surprised at the strength of the birds’ post mortem flapping, but we were shown how to hold the bird so that the flesh wouldn’t be bruised, until the nervous reactions have all stopped.

We were then taken through plucking, which takes a long time, but is not as difficult as I thought to produce a neat result (although I did manage to tear the skin near the neck). The birds were then put aside. They need to rest for a couple of days before being drawn.

We were then each given another chicken that had been killed and plucked earlier in the week, so that we could draw it. Jean is the expert at this, but even I managed to do a respectable job.

Finally, and probably not something we’ll do very often, we boned the chicken entirely. The sharpness of the knife is of the essence here, but again with Alison’s help we all made a pretty decent job.

So we have two boned chickens, one in the freezer. Plenty of giblets and bones, which will make a lovely soup with a couple of allotment leeks. And two chickens resting in the fridge which we’ll draw on Monday.

And I’ve booked myself onto a similar rabbit preparation course in three weeks time. It’s about time the airgun earned its keep!

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