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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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, 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.
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 stock pot for scalding
- poultry plucker, optional
- knives for gutting, removing legs and head
- large pan of cold water to chill birds
- vacuum sealer or shrink wrap bags for freezer prep
- rags for clean up
For a complete tutorial, read How to Butcher a Chicken and I will walk you through the process, step by step.
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!
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In addition to writing for her own websites, Lisa has contributed articles to The Prepper Project and Homestead.org.
The author lives outside of Chicago with her husband, son, 2 dogs, 1 cat, and a variety of poultry.