Homestead Life

Prepping to Butcher Our Cornish X Meat Chickens

Preparing to Butcher Cornish x Meat Chickens

Raising Cornish x meat chickens for our table is one of the ways that I decrease our reliance on the grocery store. These birds are fast growing, meaty, and tender. If you purchase chicken from the grocery store, this is what you’re getting. However, those chickens most likely came from a factory farm and never saw the light of day or took a breath of fresh air.

Our chickens have a large coop to explore and an outdoor pen with sunlight, fresh water, and clean feed. They can stretch their legs and act like chickens. Most of the meat birds stay pretty close to the feed dish and don’t take full advantage of these amenities, however.

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Cornish Cross chickens

Time to Butcher Weight & Cost of Raising Meat Birds

Our order of 15 Jumbo Cornish meat birds hatched on April 23 and today is June 10th. So they are about 7 weeks old, and the task of butchering will take place over the next week. (I don’t process all of the birds in one day, since I usually do the work on my own.) This is right on schedule, because the Cornish x chickens take 6-8 weeks to reach butcher weight.

A running tab of feed plus other expenditures (electricity for heat lamp, chick grit, probiotics, electrolytes, (#ads) price of chicks) totals up to an estimated cost of $5.40 per bird. This isn’t an exact amount, because the White Leghorn chicks and turkey pullets were housed and fed in with the meat birds. Also, some of the birds will continue to eat until I can process them, so their cost will be a bit more.

Cornish Cross chickens

Getting Ready For Butcher Day

This morning I put 5 of the largest meat birds in old dog crates with clean bedding and water. They won’t receive any feed for 24 hours to help clean out their digestive systems and make processing easier.

I’ll also sharpen the knives and assemble my equipment this afternoon so that everything is ready to go first thing in the morning, before it gets hot.

Equipment and supplies needed include:

  • killing cone, optional
  • large stockpot for scalding
  • poultry plucker, optional
  • knives (#ad)for gutting, removing legs and head
  • a large pan of cold water to chill birds
  • vacuum sealer (#ad) or shrink-wrap bags for freezer prep
  • rags for cleaning up

For a complete tutorial, read How to Butcher a Chicken and I will walk you through the process, step by step.

Cornish cross pullet
A lucky pullet

It’s Not A Fun Job

Butchering isn’t fun, but I’m glad that I have the option of raising my own chickens for meat and butchering them myself to save the cost of processing. I know how these chickens lived, what they ate, and I know that they will die quickly and humanely.

In the interest of becoming more self sufficient, I am keeping one smallish and quite active Cornish x pullet to try breeding. I kept a Cornish x hen before and she laid a good number of eggs, but I didn’t have any luck hatching chicks from them. This time I am making a more concerted effort to cross breed the meat chicken genetics with a heritage breed to raise my own meat chickens. I’ll keep you updated if it works out.

Do you raise your own chickens for meat? Leave a comment!

4 Comments on “Prepping to Butcher Our Cornish X Meat Chickens

  1. We butcher our own chickens–when the raccoons aren’t feasting on them. 🙁

    With our arthritis, we skin the chickens. Every once in a while if my hands are cooperating, I might pluck one or two. We have a (drill powered) plucker but I found it was more trouble than hand plucking.

    Hot water dunking and plucking is easier. If I were ever rich, I would love to have professional chicken plucker, but since it would be used so rarely, it’s not worth the investment. Hubby thought about renting it out, but that in itself comes with it’s own problems.

    1. Hi Maria,
      I feel so bad about your predator problem. I’ve had predators too…but nothing like what you’ve been having. 🙁

      So far, I’m not having any trouble with plucking my chickens. However, I am starting to get arthritis in my hands. We’ll see how long I can keep doing this.

      I have also looked at the chicken pluckers. Never tried the drill and wondered if it would do a good job. The big tub pluckers look like a great thing. However, I only pluck 2 or 3 dozen chickens a year. So I’m in the same boat.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. We keep 60 chickens and do a yearly cull of roosters for meat birds– but we have never bought chicks specifically for meat (right now we have 14 straight run heritage breed chicks of which 8 seem to be roosters. We’ll keep the two best and eat the rest). It’s a messy job, but doing it makes me appreciate the true cost of meat and also keeps my children in touch with where their food comes from. I really like the simplicity and practicality of your blog posts– keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Bethany,
      That’s great! Your kids will be more prepared in life, I think. My son helped me butcher today and it was nice to have the extra set of hands. (He has been helping since he was a teen.)

      Thanks for reading and sharing your experience…and thank you for your kind words!

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