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Mastering how to butcher a chicken is a skill that many people dread. However, it comes in handy with helping you stock up on your Emergency Food Supply.

Helpful resources: click here to see options for emergency food.

You don’t have to use a professional to help you butcher a chicken, even if it’s your first time. Read on to improve your skills. But first, make sure and take time to prepare

Equipment you’ll need to slaughter a chicken:

  • A killing cone
  • Poultry shears
  • Sprayer, hose, or cold water source to use for cleaning chickens and your workspace
  • Buckets to put bird feathers, innards, and blood
  • Sharp knife (or knives) for butchering your chickens & cutting chicken meat
  • Stainless steel table. You can also use any other easy to clean and sanitize surface
  • A turkey fryer – which comes in handy for plucking chickens
  • Heat shrink bags specially designed to reduce freezer burns over time
  • A large water cooler and ice to help you cool the chicken meat before you pack them

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Here’s a quick outline of what we’ll expand on below to help guide you.

Quick Guide: How to Butcher a Chicken

  • Put your chickens in the cone and leave its head hanging down to allow you to cut off its head
  • Immerse your chickens in a scalding tank
  • Leave your chickens in a plucking machine. You can also defeather your bird manually if you don’t have a machine
  • Identify the chicken’s leg joint and cut off its feet
  • Cut off the neck
  • Remove the chicken innards
  • Throw the chicken innards in a bucket to await disposal
  • Rinse your chicken meat in clean water and package it in readiness for storage

Your done!

Detailed Guide: How to Butcher a Chicken Step By Step

The best age range to butcher chickens is when they are 4 to 8 months old. After that, the chicken meat can get tough.

There are several good breeds for chicken meat and Cornish Cross Hybrids are quite popular.

So, let’s begin.

Pick one day to start the process and avoid giving your chickens food the night before you butcher them. This way, they won’t have food in their crop.

Before you can begin butchering chickens, you’ll first want to collect all the equipment you’ll need and have the right setup to guarantee a smooth process.

You’ll also need boiled water for the scalding process. For good defeathered chickens, your water should be between 150 and 160 degrees. This will help you remove feathers effortlessly without necessarily cooking the chicken.

How to Slaughter a Chicken (Methods)

Here’s how to kill a chicken. There are different good ways of going about it, as seen below.

Use an Axe

The ax method for butchering chickens is still in use even though some people describe it as inhumane. If this process to butcher a chicken works for you, go ahead and proceed.

You’ll need a chopping block, but you may still use a huge round stump and an axe. Make sure your axe is sharp enough before using this method. You want to slaughter your chickens as fast as possible.

The next step will involve holding your chickens by their feet where it’ll hold its neck out. You’ll only need one swing for cutting the neck. The bird will flop after this, which shouldn’t worry you.

This is an involuntary act and the bird won’t be alive when it’s happening. Place the bird down and let it continue flopping until it stops and allow the blood to drain. After this, you’ll have successfully slaughtered your chicken.

The Hopper Popper Method

A hopper popper is a great tool to butcher a chicken since you can also use it when slaughtering other types of small animals.

All you’ll need in this case is to fit your chicken’s head through the hopper popper’s slot. You’ll want to begin by holding its feet and pulling. You’ll hear the sound of bones around its neck breaking.

If you are wondering how to slaughter a chicken fast, this is a good method and it dislocates your chicken’s neck from the spinal cord to kill it instantly. Your chickens will still flop in this method as was the case before. After this step, place it down and allow it to flop until it stops.

Cutting the Throat

This is another way of butchering a chicken. All you need to do is hang them with their head down, cut off the throat, and allow the blood to drain.

Some people claim this method causes your chickens pain, making it inhumane. However, the bird will pass out immediately once you slice off its head which means it’ll hardly feel any pain. And that’s how to cut chicken.

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When the blood is completely drained, you’ll need to immerse your bird in scalding water.

Remember, the water will be very hot and it’s important to time it right. For this step, and to avoid getting burned by the water, use a hook to turn it around or hold it by its leg.

Your bird will be good and ready to pull out after being in the water approximately 4 minutes, but this depends on your water temperature.

To find out whether it’s ready, pinch the skin around its foot. If it comes off easily, know your the hot water workedbird is good to go.

Still, you can try plucking chickens feathers. If they come off easily, it’s good and done. You can begin the plucking process.

Plucking Chickens

The word plucking is derived from the word pluck and it’s the act of removing feathers from your chickens. Begin by removing your water scalded bird and put it on the plucking table. If you’re not sure how to pluck chicken feathers, just continue reading below. You can also ask an expert to show you how to execute the process.

If you need to, you can also use a chicken defeatherer to help make the process of plucking feathers easier. Although, many people prefer doing it manually. This is great if you only have a few chickens to work on. All you’ll need to do is hold the feathers and pull them out. When you’ve removed most of the big feathers, wear rubber gloves and swipe your bird’s skin up and down. This will help you remove the smaller, tougher feathers.

So, what if you don’t want to pluck your chickens?

How do you butcher chicken without plucking?

Short on time? Here’s a way to butcher a chicken without spending much time getting rid of the feathers.

  • Once you’ve killed your bird, first tie a small rope between its legs and leave it hanging head down
  • To get by without plucking, begin by using a sharp skinning knife to skin your chickens’ legs starting from where the feathers begin. It’s a good idea to take a few turns with your knife before pulling the leg skin off
  • Make an incision from your chicken’s leg at the bottom side of your bird’s abdomen. Skin backward and forward. Begin to pull the skin downward. You want to be cautious when skinning your bird’s lower back, rump, and where the wings connect to its abdomen
  • Once you are done, use a good hunting knife to cut off any parts you don’t need to leave on.

How to Clean a Chicken

When you’re done with this part of butchering, move your bird to the area designated for cleaning the chicken meat.

Here is how to cut a chicken. First, you’ll cut off the feet, cut off the head, and also remove the guts. Along your chicken’s leg, you’ll find a joint connecting its leg to the feet. Cut through the middle of this joint. This will help remove the feet with minimal struggle.

A filet knife will work well for this stage of butchering a chicken. Avoid slicing directly through a bone because this will dull it. Depending on the method you used for butchering chickens, its head could still be intact.

Removing it can be difficult, which is why you’ll need a pair of poultry shearers. After breaking your chicken’s neck bone, you’ll have easy time slicing through the remaining skin.

You can either choose to discard these parts or save them for chicken stock. They’re rich in minerals and proteins.

Now toss your bird over so that its breast side is facing upwards. With one hand, first hold your chicken’s skin and the narrow end of its breast. Make an incision through the skin using your other hand.

Insert all your fingers inside and use your hands to pull open the chicken’s body cavity gently to reveal its innards. With the innards exposed, you can easily reach in.

Not sure how to gut a chicken? If it’s your first time, don’t worry. All you’ll need to do is pull out the innards.

Be careful to avoid rupturing the intestines with your fingers. You don’t want chicken poop falling on your chicken meat and contaminating it.

Reach out for a long straw-like component at the top of your chicken that bars you from completely taking out its guts. That component is the windpipe.

Reach for it, coil it around your fingers. You’ll need to pull hard until it comes out. Ensure nothing is left in the body cavity after you’re done. With the guts still attached to your chickens, you want to use a sharp filet knife to make a V shape around your chicken’s poo hole.

Be cautious to avoid puncturing the vent or intestines. Cut around it well to remove the intestines completely.

If you’re confused and unable to figure out how to process a chicken, watch the videos we include to get a demonstration on how to go about it. Once you’re done, your butchered chickens should be looking like a store-bought chickens.

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Chilling Your Chicken Cut

Put your clean and plucked chickens in a large bucket full of ice and allow them to remain there to await the meat preservation process. You can now finish slaughtering any remaining chickens. You want to chill your bird as soon as possible to prevent the meat from going bad. According to experts, the chilling process should be done 16 to 24 hours before you can wrap your bird for freezing. Still, you can chill depending on the amount of ice you have.

Preserving your chicken

When all your chickens are clean, take them to the water rinsing and quality control area. First, wash your birds thoroughly with clean water and check to remove any stray parts inside the body cavity.

If there are any leftover feathers make sure you pluck them before rinsing your bird inside out thoroughly with cold water. Have individual wrap shrink bags for each of your chickens and make sure they’re well labeled.

After first rinsing your birds with water, place your birds inside and leave it in the refrigerator for a time period of 1 or 2 days. This will give the chickens time to air chill, a key step in the chicken butchering process.

If you skip this process, your cut chicken will be chewy and stiff. The air chilling process is ideal because it helps the meat on your butchered chickens to relax and rest, making it tender – chicken tender.

Once air chilling time is over, shrink wrap your chickens and make sure to follow instructions indicated on the bags. You may want to leave your chickens inside the freezer for storage.

Skinning Chickens

Roasted, fried, and baked chicken meat is fantastic with the skin on. A Chickens skin does contain high-fat content, which may add unwanted calories in your diet.

This is why many people prefer removing the skin. If you prefer skinned chicken meat, start by placing your bird at the working station. Make a slight incision on your chickens, cutting towards its chest and pull the skin towards its head.

How to Butcher a Chicken Thigh

Finding skinless and boneless chicken thighs in the supermarkets can be tough at times. This is why knowing how to debone chicken thighs is important.

Here is how to go about it.

  • First, Divide the leg
  • Find the joint
  • Cut through to remove drumstick
  • Remove the skin around
  • Trim off unnecessary fat
  • Locate the bone
  • Create your first cut through the chicken’s meat, leaving its bone exposed
  • Scrape the bone and get it separated from the meat

How to butcher a chicken into 8 pieces?

  • Lay your bird on its back and twist a wing to establish where the joint connects to its breast. Use a sharp knife and cut through its ball joint where it attaches to the breast.
  • This process will help you separate the chicken’s wing from its breast. Repeat this with the other wing.
  • Pull one leg away from the body. To remove the entire leg, you want to cut through your chicken’s skin between its breast and thigh.
  • Twist the chicken’s leg to identify its ball joint. Establish a thin line of fat that traverses along the ball joint. Cut through this line to separate the drumstick and thigh. Repeat this process with the other leg.
  • To remove your chicken’s backbone, cut through its rib cage on one part of the backbone using a sharp knife or kitchen shears.
  • Repeat this process on the other side of your chicken’s backbone. You want to save the neck and backbone for chicken stock.
  • Cut the chicken breast into two halves and place its skin side down. Fold a towel to safeguard your hand and place it atop a sharp heavy knife.
  • Utilize your weight to cut through the cartilage and breast bone.
  • At this point, you’ll have two breast halves. Cut each chicken breast into half crosswise.

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Understanding Chicken Butchering Laws

In some cities, there are regulations on the number of chickens you can keep in a specific space, and whether you can have roosters. However, there are no rules in most of the cities regarding how to butcher a chicken or process them.

If you live in the urban areas, laws regarding how to butcher a chicken are often yet to be set up. If you live in rural areas, however, you may be allowed or prohibited from building a slaughterhouse.

While selling freshly farm butchered chickens is legal in some US states, butchering a chicken at home for resale is yet to be legalized.

You may need further licensing to sell home grown chicken which varies from one state to the other. Always confirm the rules on how to butcher a chicken legally with your local city office just to be on the safe side.

Finding Help

Butchering chickens or any other bird for the first time can be an intense experience. In the past butchering chickens tended to be a family experience.

You may want to get someone familiar with the butchering process to also help you and also enroll help from a family member.

Because we’re living in a technology-rich world where you can easily access information from the internet, there are a lot of resources that can teach you how to butcher a chicken.

Look for a great educational resource on butchering you can refer from time to time.

You can also research some of the family farms around your community to find out if they have a butchering expert to help you understand the time and process for cutting. You’ll find it easier to learn from someone with whom you have common interests.


There’s no doubt that many people dread the chicken butchering process. Whether or not you fall into this category, this guide should help you master your skills on how to butcher a chicken. And now, you’re done!

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