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#62736 - 11/18/07 10:39 PM no food before butchering
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Traditional wisdom says no food for 12 to 24 hours prior to butchering. Often we forget to do this since feeding the meatbirds is such an ingrained daily chore we just feed them without thinking about it.

But this time I didn't feed them the day before and hubby wasn't happy about this. He said a completely empty crop is hard to get ahold of to remove when cleaning. Plus several times before when we had remembered to not feed the meat birds, they went on a dirt eating spree and their crops where stuffed with dirt. Which made for its own butchering problems.

What is the feeling about feeding or not feeding prior to butchering? We always give them water and I always believed it best that they not eat, but now I think maybe I am wrong? I await everyone's input. smile

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#62737 - 11/19/07 12:53 AM Re: no food before butchering
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Good Morning Uno,

yep, I have read about this not feeding issue, also. There are some papers out there, but I canīt remember the keywords now, sorry! I think what I have read had to do with the water level in their meat or such, maybe the experts know more?

Nevertheless I also found that a well fed bird is much easier to process. As you said the full crop can easily be held and slips out just fine. This canīt be done with an emty crop! I fully agree and also process our birds with full crops.

Best greetings,

Joachim

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#62738 - 11/19/07 01:21 AM Re: no food before butchering
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
Never had a scrap of bother processing wild game such as pheasant, with full crops. They were shot too during hunting season, so always a chance of damaged internals. Matter of fact it was quite interesting opening their crops to see what they'd been feasting on. I suppose if you think it through carefully, it may be more to do with having an empty bowel so as not to spill the contents into the gut cavity if you should accidently nick the bowel. Campylabactor not withstanding.

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#62739 - 11/19/07 08:18 AM Re: no food before butchering
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
I too always thought this was just so the bowels would be empty, but maybe it does have more to do with the moisture content of the meat?

A bird usually eats nothing at night when it's dark, so we've THOUGHT about going into the coop at night, taking the ones we will butcher first thing in the morning, and placing them in a large holding cage with water until daybreak, when the deed would be done. That way they wouldn't be starving, but would not have the opportunity to fill up just before they get the axe.

But we haven't done this yet. I was thinking - why would this be necessary - people hunt ducks and geese and all sorts of wild animals, full crops, full intestines, meat moisture content as is, or whatever the case may be. So we've just been doing it that way - slaughtering when it's good for us and the bird, regardless of when they last ate and everything has been fine that way.

One of the web-sites I was reading said that if the contents of the crop, or the intestine, spill out accidentally don't worry, just rinse more than usual. They said, and I think it's true, that no matter what it will be cleaner than the conditions the supermarket meat was slaughtered and processed in!

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#62740 - 11/19/07 11:25 AM Re: no food before butchering
Jrsygntbrdr1 Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 06/12/05
Posts: 2601
Loc: Arkansas
Well, the thing is that if no feed is in the intestines for over 8 hours, the intestines start "breaking" down and get watery. If water is allowed during the last 4 hours, the intestines tear WAY too easily causing poor evisceration.

As for hunting the geese, most people (at least around here) only hunt the wild geese, dove, etc. for breast meat or parts.

Upback, I'm sorry but I have to say this. The cleaning schedules on processing equipment is so stringent that it is almost impossible to be "cleaner" than the processing plant unless you were working with sterilized equipment, surfaces, cleaning, gutting, etc. Plants take so much care to ensure we get the best possible product that it's rididulous. Personally, I'm happy with the cleaning laws and care they put into it. After all...nobody would want to purchase a product that would kill them or make them sick so quality assurance is a MUST in the business.

uno, when you eviscerate, try this: cut the head and neck off before eviscerating. Then, take a VERY sharp knife and carefully cut the crop away from the carcass (if anything is left holding it). Reach in with a wooden spoon or a whisk and roll it in the carcass carefully (through the opening at the neck). This should easily dislodge the crop. Now just go in through the vent cut and pull the viscera out. Makes it much easier. As for if any feed or fecal material gets out, wash carefully and be sure to cook thoroughly. This is why companies use the feed withdrawal method. Many people don't cook the carcass thoroughly and any fecal material could POSSIBLY carry bacteria to the consumer. Also, any fecal material from one carcass could potentially get onto another carcass and so on. If a grower doesn't properly withdraw feed, he can be penalized by the processor.

Hope the whisk trick works! You may want to have a whisk specifically for this though...one of my things...tainting any other food with the whisk that was used to eviscerate a bird...yuck...

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#62741 - 11/20/07 06:29 AM Re: no food before butchering
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
jrsygntbrdr1,

You're right, I don't mean that the meat we buy at the store is tainted, or so dirty it would make us sick. My grandfather was a meat inspector, and I have respect for that. I was just loosely quoting someone else, and I guess what I THINK he meant, what I meant anyway, was that butchering a bird or two in your backyard is PROBABLY just cleaner. Less animals being delt with than at a commercial operation, less mess. Stool, blood, fluids, surely come in contact with surfaces and are hosed off. Yes there are good regulations and standards, thank goodness, but like everything else, usually a business is going to take less care than you do. They are in a hurry and need to get X number of animals done in X amount of time. Things happen to the meat we eat that may be be within regulation, may not make me sick, but may horrify me if I saw all that happened to the meat I eat from start to finish. I have no doubt it would make me worry LESS about my own butchering practices.

I stood in line this past spring at a local butcher for two hours to have 13 birds processed. After waiting when it was finally my turn, a big hose just washed away the blood and fluids from the previous person's chickens. I'm sure the professionals who do the eviscerating slip up on occasion too. There were large drums outside holding the feathers, blood and refuse for making pet food. Flies were everywhere. It stank. Killing cones lined on the walls do multiple farm's birds, rinsed in between. One huge drum plucks all birds at once. And I'm sure they were doing everything by regulation, it's a local place, family run and I feel good about taking birds there when we have too many to do at once that it would take us forever. I think they run a good business, but I think my wooden chopping block by my Maple in our yard, even if I nick a watery intestine or spill contents of the crop, is far superior, that's all I meant. Maybe you don't agree. That's OK, it's just how I feel.

Oh, and yes, ducks and geese hunted in the wild are usually just skinned for the breast - bad example. But still the point is true, there are so many wild animals that people hunt that are killed and eviscerated with a full intestine. People have always done this. You just have to take care, and if an accident happens, rinse thoroughly. And like you said - cook it.

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#62742 - 11/20/07 07:15 AM Re: no food before butchering
Joachim Dippold Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1823
Loc: Austria
Hello Folks,

interesting thread;-) As for the bowels and such, well, I donīt understand it. When I take out the innards they are intact, I donīt rip them apart or so, I take them out in whole. But maybe itīs because they COULD get cut open by accident?

As for cleanliness: well, the meat one buys in a store does NOT come straight from a "superclean" butchering plant. It is handled by many various people. And I think itīs unrealistic to believe ALL of them who are in the chain of handling your meat do this with the proper care/respect/whatever. They simply do their job and nothing more - at best!LOL! There are SO many possibilities of the meat getting "dirty", you donīt have to see this as real dirt but rather bacteria. I think it is not near sterile, like the guys from the food industry are telling us. And besides: itīs tasteless!;-) Just my thoughts.

Best greetings,

Joachim

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#62743 - 11/20/07 08:29 AM Re: no food before butchering
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
I don't think anyone is ripping out innards, I hope not! But just as you said, accidents happen occasionally, even when we are careful.

I am in agreement with you Joachim, and to reinforce my point, I came back with some back up. Anyone can Google this, I went to the HFA ( humane farming association ). They had a petition against a certain processing plant in Washington state to actuually ENFORCE the standards that are law. Several workers at the plant testified.

A quote from the HFA - "Processing of concious animals also diminishes the safety of the meat produced. At current line speeds, neither federal inspectors nor workers can ensure the removal of adulterants."

Quote from worker testifying - "...sometimes you can't do your job not only because the cows are alive, but because the chain is running so fast. Even though I'm supposed to trim contaminants, you don't have time to clean all the pus, s*#t, hair and dirt off the cows."

This is not a small plant, but one that processes a large part of the beef we all buy at the store. ( oh wait - this was 1998, that stuff probably never happens anymore! smile )

That's not to mention the wounds workers sustain while processing that can contaminat. The meat obviously gets cleaned up before we see it in the store, but none-the-less a lot of un-clean things happen, and still we are not all dropping down sick from contaminated meat.

This is why I still say, regulations followed or not, a little slip that nicks an intestine during home-butchering is GENERALLY way cleaner ( safer is a better word, maybe ) than what you are buying on faith at the store.

We are getting more efficient with the processing, but if I had 50 birds to kill, I would still feel OK bringing them down to our local, family butcher. Flies, stink, hosing between batches and all. I can see what they are doing - it's all transparent. But I still feel that as for cleanliness ( not to mention humane treatment ) nothing can compare to my backyard butchering. I don't care what the regulations are.

So we will continue to slaughter without with-holding food, regardless of the actual reason this is recommended. Not because I can grab the crop easier, though that's a good point - but just because it's one less step and allows us the freedom to process at anytime.

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#62744 - 11/20/07 12:37 PM Re: no food before butchering
Jrsygntbrdr1 Offline
Classroom Professor

Registered: 06/12/05
Posts: 2601
Loc: Arkansas
I honestly can't imagine seeing the birds done at your local butchering plant Upback. We have one here that is so clean. I've watched them do a cow (my dogs love the calf femurs and he gives them to me for free...) and they wear gloves, autoclave the knives, scissors, cleavers, etc. It was amazing.

Luckily, there are few "professionals" who do eviscerations. They have machines that do that now and after the evisceration the carcasses are washed with an antimicrobial to prevent growth from torn intestines. I am in NO WAY saying it's sterile, but it's amazing what our bodies can put up with. (Got kicked in the head by a horse that reared up this last month. She dislocated my shoulder, gave me a concussion, and lots of bruises that looked great for classes the next week and I wasn't even in the pen with her! DEMON HORSE!) Anyway, the point is, the plants take microbial levels down to what a person can usually handle. I buy food from the University and I know the nastiness that goes on in there. But, with the price of meats going up I'm happy to purchase cheaper food if it means cleaning it up a little bit.

Just my view on it...I agree that the treatment with at home processings is much better and easier on the birds, but if you have 200+ birds to do...I just see a plant as being the easiest way to do it. At least, a butcherer is set up for it. Unless you have a week to devote to the processing. Now, 2,000 would go directly to a processing plant...probably the university if the birds fit the settings on the machines.

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#62745 - 11/20/07 06:14 PM Re: no food before butchering
Upback Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 06/04/07
Posts: 457
Loc: Maine
Oh, don't get me wrong about the place I took them to - I like that place. They all wore gloves, things inside were clean, all the equipment was hosed down between "batches". No machinery doing the evisceration, just a couple people. It's a very small family operation. Nothing at all like the large processing plant I was refering to. The flies and the stink came from the barrels of stuff outside waiting to be turned into pet food.

Anyway, I know there are good processing plants out there, but there are horror stories too, and I guess I just trust myself more than someone else. That's what I at least like about the local butcher - just like you said - you can watch it happen and see everything. The same can't be said for supermarket meat, that's all.

You're right, it's amazing what the body can handle. I hope you bounce back fast - maybe you already have. smile

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