Slaughtering poultry at home

Home Processing of Chickens, ducks and other birds


The chickens or ducks to be slaughtered should no have access to any type of food for about 6-8 hours. However, access to drinking water until catching them is advisable -especially in hot climates- so that the animals do not suffer unnecessarily. Moreover this will also have a positive influence on the quality and the tenderness of the meat afterwards.

Respecting these to advices will prevent the presence of food in the crop when this part is removed, thus risking to soil the product.

The Procedure:

Make sure the head of the bird is positioned downward so that the blood can flow down easily, and preferably in such a way that the rest of the body is well secured. Best is to use a cone (funnel) with a hole in the bottom to get access to the head to apply the bleeding cut, whereby the bird's wings cannot flap thus preventing also that blood would remain in the wing tips afterwards. It is important to try to drain as much of the blood as possible, without causing damage to the body.

The best method and most human way to kill the animals is to cut the jugular veins with a sharpest possible knife. This way they will quickly loose consciousness because the blood is drained from the head within seconds after the cut. Allow app. 1.5 - 2 minutes of draining in order to get the best possible bleeding.

Cutting off the head of the bird completely will result in less bleeding. Moreover the plucking afterwards will also be more difficult.

The Scalding and plucking process:

Scalding means the passing of the bird through hot water after they have been killed and bled, which is normally done to prepare the epidermis (upper skin), so that the feathers come off morechicken being plucked easily. Immersing them in a bucket with warm water of about 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) for app. 45 -60 seconds will be sufficient. The aim of scalding is to open the follicula (in which the shaft of the feather is held), so that these can be removed easily.

Plucking should be started immediately after the scalding, since otherwise the effect of scalding is lost for a big part and also the bird will become stiff. If the scalding was done properly it should not be very difficult to remove all the pinfeathers, although this can sometimes be a time consuming process, especially with ducks.


Evisceration basically means removing everything inside the body plus the head and feet.

To remove the head make a cut around the neck just behind the head, and twist. The neck skin should then be split down the back and a second cut made at the base of the neck. A twist will usually separate the neck from the body. Next the esophagus, trachea and crop should be separated from the neck skin. They can be left attached and be pulled from the body with the viscera or can be cut off before.

The body cavity can be opened by making a cut near the vent,(cloacae) extending the cut around the vent, whereby you should be careful not to cut the intestine so that the carcass will not be soiled with fecal material.

When the abdomen is opened the viscera can be removed through the opening. It is very important to remove all the viscera, including the lungs which are attached to the back. For this the incision in the skin around the vent should be big enough to allow the entrance of a hand to remove the lungs properly.

When all the contents of the cavity have been removed the bird should be thoroughly washed.

When the viscera have been removed from the product the heart, liver and gizzard (stomach) can be separated and saved. The ends of any parts of the vascular system that may be attached to the heart should be removed by trimming off the top to expose the chambers. The heart should be washed and squeezed to force out any remaining blood. The green gall bladder should be carefully trimmed away from the liver, whereby it should prevented to damage it, since the green liquid will not only spoil the way the product looks, but it also has a bitter taste.

Next the gizzard should be split lengthwise and the contents washed away. The lining should then be peeled away from the rest of the gizzard to make it edible.

After the evisceration procedure has been completed the carcass should be cooled as soon as possible. Ice water or a refrigerator can be used for this. Ice water will do the job somewhat faster.

If birds are to be frozen the gizzard, heart and liver can be wrapped in a small plastic bag and placed inside the body cavity. The birds can then be placed in a moisture-vapor proof plastic bag and frozen."

During the evisceration process the birds can be put on a table, which, however, presents a risk of contamination, especially when more birds are to be treated and cross-contamination could occur. It is therefore of the utmost importance that this table is cleaned thoroughly and preferably also between the treatment of the birds.

A better way is to hang them by their feet into a shackle which should be wide enough and flexible to allow easy access to the inside of the product.

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