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Using Laying Hens for Meat

When your hen’s egg-producing days are done, send her off humanely with one last meal.

By Cynthia Amidon

Step 4: Gut and Clean Chickens

Chicken organs
Photo by Stephanie Staton
All internal organs and the feet are removed from the chicken.

Next, the chicken is gutted and cleaned. The feet are removed at the first joint, or “hock,” by cutting the tendon that holds it together with a sharp knife so that the bone can be separated.

Then the neck is slit so that the windpipe and esophagus may be removed, along with the crop. The oil gland at the base of the tail is cut out, and an incision is made in the belly of the bird so that the innards may be removed. The most important aspect of gutting the birds is to avoid perforating their intestine or gallbladder during the process, which would contaminate the meat with fecal material and/or bile.

Both Living with Chickens by Jay Rossier (The Lyons Press, 2004) and Raising Chickens for Dummies by Kimberly Willis and Rob Ludlow (Wiley Publishing, 2009) serve as excellent guides to the process; there is also a great deal of information available through your local cooperative extension service.

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