Processing Broiler Chickens: Butcher Day Checklist

Were it not for lists, I would surely die a slow death of walking in circles.

It’s amazing how you can get up in the morning, determined to tackle all of those tasks you remembered as you tried to fall asleep the night before.

It was alllllll there in your mental checklist:

Get that turkey stock canned.

Take those 3 gallons of blueberries in the fridge and put them away- make jam, freeze them, make blueberry breakfast cake, do something!

Pull and dry the onions.

Can the rabbit meat that’s been soaking for two days.

Wash the eggs.

Make bread.

Contemplate the depth of outer space.

You down that first cup of caffeine, feed the mob of hungry small fries, and…

…shoot, what was it I was supposed to get done today?

Because, seriously, Facebook is all I can seem to remember.


Lists, I tell you.

Just gotta have ’em.

So today I’m going to help you out with one such list.

So you don’t have to make your own.

And, let’s be honest, so that I have one I can readily print off the next time I need it.

We’re talking butcher day checklist: meat bird edition.

Butcher Day Checklist- Yellow Birch Hobby Farm

If you’re like us, and do your own processing, you know how big of a day/job this is.

The husband and myself are a fab team of 2 (with the help of 3 little apprentices), and we tend to use pretty basic tools and supplies (no plucker, no outdoor sink with running water, no stainless steel fancy shmancy setups). So we need to be efficient by way of having everything we need on site before diving in.

Therefore, a checklist is a pretty handy friend to have around.

Here is what we have ready for processing meat birds:

  • 2 large table surfaces: (1) for plucking, (1) for gutting
  • (2) bowls of hot soapy water, 1 for each table
  • (2) hand towels, 1 for each table
  • newspapers for covering the tables
  • large trash bags for feathers
  • hose with sprayer attached
  • turkey burner & propane tank (for boiling water to be used for dipping/plucking)
  • large canner or stock pot, filled with water to be boiled (for dipping/plucking)
  • butcher block & hatchet (or killing cones/sharp knife for sticking method)
  • 1 empty bucket (for discarding heads and other unwanted parts)
  • sharp knives (at least 2, for removing feet, gutting, etc.)
  • 2 large clean bowls (1 for neck, heart, & other parts you wish to keep, 1 for feet if you plan to keep those)
  • large cooler filled with ice water (for cooling the birds after cleaning)
  • roll of paper towels

As a bonus, here is what we have prepared for the day after processing (following 24 hours of chilling the birds in the fridge):

  • shrink bags (super duper highly recommend)
  • zip ties (for closing the shrink bags)
  • straw or tubing to remove air (for use with shrink bags, see Good Idea #5 using this link)
  • large stock pot (for shrink bagging)
  • freezer labels or tape (for recording weight/date)
  • kitchen scale (for weighing)
  • paper towels (for drying the birds prior to bagging)

I will always promote learning/endeavoring to process your own animals at home. For me, the end of life is just as important as every day leading up to it. And there is no better way to be sure that you are ready for this important day by being properly prepared.

Butcher on, my friends.

P.S. Don’t forget your list.

P.P.S. Actual list, not mental one.


About yellowbirchhobbyfarm

Hi! I'm Erin, a 19th-century homesteader at heart. Here at Yellow Birch Hobby Farm we practice self-sustainable living by way of organic gardening, canning & preserving, raising a variety of livestock, hunting, foraging, and cooking from scratch. And here at our blog, we share it all with you! So glad you've found us.

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