Tips & Tricks

Our renters always come back with some great tips. I will keep adding them as they come in, so check back.

  • Protect the scalder from wind! The burner is underneath and strong winds will blow out the flames.
  • Add a good amount of dish soap to the water to emusify the oil and, supposedly, help the pin feathers come out. Some say Dawn, we’ve used other brands.
  • When cleaning the plucker, you have to reach up into the chute and down underneath the spinning plate to pull out hidden clumps of feathers. Otherwise our garage will stink horribly.
  • Instructions say to heat the water overnight, however we have found two hours suffices in warmer weather. In winter, maybe longer. One renter ran a hose from the hot water in her house (washing machine) and had it warm right away.
  • Most people keep buckets under the killing cones to collect blood. It can be really hard to clean them once the blood dries. Spray the insides with cooking oil first! Also, add some water before processing, then pour on your plants.
  • Typically people bury the entrails. Save the livers and hearts for your laying hens, pets, or people who like to eat them. If you know someone with pigs, save the remaining entrails for the pigs to eat. Bury the feathers.
  • Different people have different methods of post-processing. Here’s what I learned: After processing each bird, soak in very icy water for 3-4 hours. Then age in the refrigerator for about 24 hours before bagging and freezing. Before we had enough garage fridges to do this, we used coolers with towels over ice and between birds. We aged our turkeys four days in very cold fridges. One person said he heard it’s not a good idea to age them un-bagged due to possible bacterial growth. I haven’t read up on it. I personally do not like to put a sopping wet bird in the bag to freeze.
  • Scald the whole bird, including the feet. The feet super-charge bone broths nutritionally. If you don’t want them, it’s easy to find someone who will.
  • Pick up your birds by the legs when carrying them from their crates to the cones. I didn’t know this starting out, it makes things easier and you can carry more than one. Plus they calm down right away when upside down.
  • I know one woman who “brains” her chickens first. She pokes through the roof of the mouth into the brain with the point of a sharp knife. This kills them instantly but still leaves the heart pumping enough to bleed out quickly. This is somewhat in line with the European method of stunning them electrically first, and is said to be more humane (chickane?).
  • That’s all I can think of right now. I’ll add more as they come up. Please feel free to email your handy tips.