young boy carrying a chicken by feet

Our First Time Butchering Chickens

“Four succinct points should be kept in mind when selecting handicrafts and life skills.

  1. The end-product should be useful. The children should not “be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like.”
  2. Teach the children “slowly and carefully what they are to do.”
  3. Emphasize the habit of best effort. “Slipshod work should not be allowed.”
  4. Carefully select handicrafts and life skills to challenge but not frustrate. “The children’s work should be kept well within their compass.”

(taken from Home Education, p. 315)”

It was a very educational day for children and adults alike. We began the season with 26 birds and ended up with 19. One chicken was butchered last weekend as a test run to see if this was something we the boys were up for. It was terrible! Practically inedible it was so tough. But the process seemed like something he could handle and we didn’t want to invest anymore money in chickens that would end up in the soup pot. We thought we might find the solution to the tough meat in different ways of “dispatching” of them, but we found that when they were dipped in boiling water to loosen the feathers for plucking, they were stiffening up and even beginning to cook! We lost 2 birds because of partially cooked meat, taking our total down to 17. The remainder of the chickens had their skin removed, which eliminated the need for plucking and saved a great deal of time.

In all 17 chickens yielded 9 1/2 pounds of breast meat, 13 pounds of leg/dark meat, and 4 whole chickens came to 16 pounds.

The prices that my grocery store charges for their “all-natural” chicken are:
$6.59/lb. boneless skinless breast meat ($63.00)
$2.29/lb.  dark meat ($30.45)
$ 2.00/lb. whole chicken ($32.00)
Total: $125.45

Total invested: $129.76
(This includes chicks, starter, feed, paper for under brooder, and a hanging waterer. The chicken tractor and all supplies to butcher were made from materials we already had.)
Life Skills: Priceless

Would we do it again? The jury is still out on that one. While there are 7 really great reasons to learn to butcher your own meat, Bill had his fill of all things chicken today so we had a meatless meal for supper. If we didn’t solve the tough bird problems by not boiling them and they are still tough, we will definitely not raise broilers again! It may be worth it simply for the instilling of work ethic in my sons, the knowledge of what is going into our food, and the educational aspects of raising poultry. If paying for the butchering is cost prohibitive and time doesn’t dull Bill’s memory, I imagine that this may have been a valuable one-time lesson for my children about where their food comes from.

I’m very proud of the worktable that my husband fashioned for this project. It alone was worth today simply so that my sons learn ingenuity and how to be resourceful. All materials used for the processing table were found laying around, which further decreased the cost of raising the birds.

Learn More:

Our Chicken Butchering Set-Up

Chicken Butchering Supplies

How Much Does it Cost to Raise Chickens for Meat

Freedom Rangers vs. Cornish Cross

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  1. Amy, We did! I guess we were anxious to taste the fruits (or rather meat ;D) of our labor. It was then that I tried to goggle the reason and I saw about letting the meat sit. Hopefully the others will turn out better. I appreciate your advice confirming what I’ve read.
    Happy to have you at my blog! Glad your enjoying it!

  2. Your tough bird, did you eat it the same day you killed it? We read that you are supposed to let them rest in the fridge for a couple of days before eating or freezing. I have not noticed our chickens being tough. We’ve done “it” twice now, once with 21 birds and the second time with 100 birds. Enjoying your blog!

  3. Hello,

    Although I am new to your blog, I think that it is lovely and I want to pass on the One Lovely Blog Award to you.

    I am a stay at home mother of five children. I am searching for blogs of mothers with common interests. I have looked over several of you posts and think they are indeed lovely.

    Perhaps you would like to come by and pick up your Lovely Blog Award.


  4. Well, I can’t complain since I am the one that has posted pics with Sahara’s poop talents! I think it is very wise to teach the whole family these lessons. I took special note of all that laundry on the clothesline, also… You are all working hard! I am feeling a bit lazy.. thank you very much! LOL! I was actually sitting here reading a book about Charlotte Mason when I clicked on your blog, so this was good timing for me. I am still trying to find out who I am as a homeschooler…apparently am a bit Charlotte Mason/ Classical/ Ecclectic/ WhoKnowsWhat… Hehehehe! Loved this post… glad I did not have to smell that boiling feathers smell.. I remember that smell still from OVER thirty yearts ago. Stinky! You have to highly weigh in that doing it this way you absolutely know what you are eating… that has a lot of value… if you can stomach it.

    Five years ago when I was pregnant with Sierra I help my MIL clean 50+ pounds of shrimp. Still gags me. I did not want shrimp for a looooonnnnng time. Still makes me ill to smell it raw. Anway, maybe if we start killing our own meat and poultry we might lose some weight at my house… hmmm.. new approach to dieting…

  5. How neat to see some of the basic skills being taught to todays kids. I can still remember my dad getting the chickens ready to cook – my mom wouldn’t do that part. But like you said, it seems to me they were normally tougher than store bought – I wonder if it is because they ran around instead of sitting on a concrete pad like today’s chickens probably do.

    Anyway, I just stopped by to let you know you’ve been awarded the “One Lovely Blog Award”. Come by my blog (Uncomplicated) to pick it up.