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Pastured Poultry Processing Day 2

Colonel’s Blog, Earthdate 17 May 2023…

Hey Y’all!

Hello and happy Wednesday from Air2Ground Farms! The weather was beautiful today, cloudy and cool this morning, sunny and warm this afternoon. The animals are all doing really well. We now have 6 lambs with many more on the way. So far, the moms are doing well taking care of the babies. We were concerned yesterday evening when one ewe seemed to be ignoring her lamb but she got it together and they seem to be doing well today. There are two schools of thought regarding ewes and lambs. One school says to stay hands-off at all cost as you can interrupt their bonding if you intervene at all. The other school says to check every lamb and give them all a small amount of colostrum to ensure they have a good start (colostrum is required as it seals their stomach lining and kick-starts their digestive process). Winter a year and a half ago, we initially tried the hands off approach and watched a few lambs not make it. We then intervened when it looked like it was necessary. Last spring, we didn’t need to intervene as all moms did well. This year, we have colostrum available from the milk cows and thawed some right before they started lambing. So far, we have left them alone and all are doing well, but we will step in and give some colostrum if it looks necessary. We finished processing the beef chickens today after we bagged and froze the ones we processed yesterday. It took us about 45 minutes to bag the 40 birds and get them into the freezer. Tomorrow, we will bag and freeze today’s birds and go get another load of pallets.

Time for the gory details of processing the beef chickens, well...not gory but details nonetheless. We bungied a dog kennel in the back of a side-by-side to transport and hold the birds. Makaylah was the A#1 chicken catcher and loved that job. We would catch 10 at a time and put them one-by-one into the kennel. We would then drive the 10 birds up the hill to the “exsanguination station,” or the kill-cones screwed onto a pallet wire-tied to 2 T-posts. My dad would catch 2 birds and put them head first into the cones and Makaylah would hold them by the feet. Being upside-down and held by the cones calms the birds and they don’t even move. Dad (or me or Shelley) would then give the bird a quick slice through the jugular while Makaylah kept them from flopping out from their death-throes. By bird 60ish, she said that she was bored with that job but really liked catching them. Even so, she took her job seriously and stuck with it to the end. After they completely bled out, dad would take them to the scalder and then to the plucker, 2 at a time. The scalder has 2 elements that we plugged in to different breakers to keep them from tripping. It heats rather quickly and then we unplugged one element and it held around 150-160 degrees. Using heat-resistant gloves, dad would dunk the birds until the skin on their feet and flight feathers on their wings were easy to remove. At that point, he would put them into the plucker, turn on the water, and then turn on the machine. It takes about 20 seconds to fully pluck both birds. Dad would then move the now naked birds into a cooler with ice water. Shelley was the next station and would grab a bird and remove their head and feet. Heads went into the offal can and the feet went into a container with ice so we could keep them. She then made a cut in the neck and pulled the crop away from the breast and loosed the esophagus and trachea. She would finally remove the oil gland on the tail and hand it over to me. I would make a cut just above the vent and start working the innards. I separated the fat from the gizzard and then separated the rest of the innards from the inside of the carcass. I would then pull all of the innards out the cut, to include the crop and tubes Shelley separated. I finished removing the innards by cutting around the vent, fully removing everything. I would then separate the heart and liver and put them in a container to save. I removed the lungs and testicles, rinsed the inside of the carcass, made a cut in the skin below the breasts to tuck the legs, and handed it off to my mom. She would pull any remaining feathers, fully clean the bird, and tuck its legs. Final step was to put it in another cooler of ice water to quickly cool the inside of the bird. As we got 4 birds cool, one of us would move them into the freezers with ice water in the garage where they cool just above freezing for a day. That gives them time to fully go through rigor and be ready to freeze. The next step for the bird happens the next day. Dad moves the bird from the freezer onto a drying rack with a fan blowing to start the bird drying. Shelley and dad would dry the bird the rest of the way with paper towels and put it neck-first into a shrink bag. Shelley would put a zip-tie loosely around the end of the bag. I took it and dunked it in the scalder, now with both elements keeping it around 180-190 degrees. I used a glove on my left hand and bare right hand. I quickly dunked the bird, shrinking the bag around the carcass, expelling the air. I would remove it, twist it, and zip the tie. I then put it on a table with towels and another fan blowing. Mom would grab it, dry it, and put it on the scales. Makaylah calls out the weight (we’re all curious), writes the weight and date on a label and sticks it on. When 4 birds are ready, one of us moves them to the deep freezer. Overall, we are very happy with how the entire process worked, from beginning to end. We are going to cook 2 of the birds this evening for a quality check before we sell any. They look amazing and we think they will taste great too. I’ll let you know tomorrow. Pastured Poultry Processing Day 2…another success!

Local Farm Report for 16 May 2023:


30 Chicken eggs

18 Duck eggs

1 Goose egg

We still haven’t found the guinea’s nest!

6 Gallons of milk

Cheers! Psycho & Shelley

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Mark Cummings
Mark Cummings
May 18, 2023

Why can’t you find the guinea’s nest?

Replying to

Mostly because they are free roaming 160 acres, and they are very good at hiding them.

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