My photo
I ran away from teaching to the country to grow veggies. There are also some chooks and a pair of troublesome goats who were so much trouble they had to go! My simple green life isn't always as simple or as green as I'd like...but I keep trying!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dressing Poultry - for beginners

If you are a bit squeemish do not read on.  
This post includes some disturbing information.  
However, it may also prove useful to you one day.

Here are a couple of sites to learn about dressing chickens for the table:

Now for the Hazel Method 
for Dressing a Backyard Chicken.

Step 1:  Choose a bird with a death wish, evidenced by her unwillingness to go into the coop even after witnessing the murder of her rooster and two of her sisters, by a fox the night before.

Step 2: Ensure she roosts on a high branch but one that is accessible from the woodpile.

Step 3:  When you hear her screeching in the night, as she is being carried off by the fox, release the hound which will make the fox drop the chook.

Step 4: When you retrieve and examine the hen she will probably be bruised and have most of the skin torn from her breast.  If she is a well fed girl, there may also be globs of fat visible.

Step 5: Stop the Cook from commenting that her chest muscle looks just like a breast fillet - firstly because it is an oxymoronic comment and secondly it may make you feel ill.

Step 6:  Pull the skin flap, up over the breast and hold in place with a bandage. Light crepe bandages are no good, as she will just peck at it and make it unravel.  Heavier, wider bandages work better.

This first bandage was not successful because it slipped, we learned
to take the bandage up and around her neck as well as over her back.

Step 7:  Wrap the bandage around and around and fasten in a number of places to stop it from slipping.  It should be tight enough to do the job but not so tight as to make breathing difficult.

Step 8, 9 and 10:  Change the bandage on a daily basis, checking the wound for signs (and the smell) of infection.

Step 11:  Once you are sure the hen will recover, write a blog post with silly pictures to show the world what a Sooky La La you are and why you will never be a truly successful self sufficient homesteader.

This was the best - a heavier bandage, with edges held together with
lots of safety pins..punk style dressing.

Oh, and don't worry about PTSD...
Penny isn't the least bit traumatised and is 
eating, drinking, foraging and squabbling with her sisters as usual.  

It is helpful that chooks go all passive 
and lay still when you put them on their backs.


  1. Poor chicken! They are quite resilient creatures. A bit of TLC and if they make it through the first 24 hours critical hours they will usually be alright.

    One of our little girls was carried off by a dog late last year, we caught the dog, yelled at it, retrieved little Gracie from its gob, she had no bleeding, but died about 30 mins later. I had her wrapped in a towel resting on my lap. We figured she died of a heart attack.

  2. You are so sweet. Yup, I would have really dressed her out...BUT I do have a duck who was bitten quite badly on the whole back of her neck by a raccoon. I did not kill her though my daughter thought I should. She didn't just have a bite, she was bitten and missing a whole piece of skin on the back of her neck. I left her alone and she recovered on her own. Sometimes it just isn't necessary to "put them out of their misery". Sometimes they can survive just fine.
    Good job. I hope she lays you many more eggs which will make you quite self sufficient now won't it?

  3. Oh Hazel! Every time you post things about chickens I love them even more!
    How traumatic for her. I hope she recovers fully!
    And good on you for caring so much! I hope she rewards you with lots of eggs.

  4. Well done Nurse Hazel. I hope she's at least learnt her lesson and goes to bed in the pen now.

  5. Chickens aren't very susceptible to infections because their body temperature is 107º, too high for most common bacteria. You can sew up tears fairly easily with just a sewing needle and thread, then do a nice bandage like the one you have. If it will stay on, leave it on for maybe 3 or 4 days without taking it off. Stitches heal pretty fast on a chicken. I am sooo glad we have no foxes here. With coyotes hauling off our cats and raccoons maiming the chickens, that's enough. Up on the coast in Northern California they've been having trouble with bears. Somebody needs to develop a chicken that lays dandy eggs but has foul (instead of fowl) tasting meat, so predators will leave them alone. I get so tired of everything that breathes killing chickens, don't you?

  6. Oh far out, when I started reading this, in the title 'dressing a chicken', and dont read on it may cause distress....
    I thought you meant, dressing a bird to, as in plucking and the rest of it...phew.....I do feel a right twit.
    Anyway, good on you for your nursing efforts...I had to give a chook a course of three injections once.....looking back on it, goodness knows how I managed. I even practised on an orange...but I had to hold the chook just like that, on her back, and inject her in the breast...poor love. I hope this chooke recovers well from her ordeal with foxy loxy.

  7. Poor Henny Penny she does look all trussed up.But in the last photo is she giving you the chicken salute?

  8. I thought the same as Suzanne... but I couldn't help myself from reading on.
    That last photo is hilarious. I think you should enter it in a competition of some sort.

  9. Sorry, I didn't get back straight away. As I said I've had the flu. You have some gorgeous pictures and I will certainly be back to pore over them. will you be at the moth talk tonight?

  10. I expected to see a chicken in a dress or overalls! Thankfully nothing as crazy as that, I hope the poor girl recovers quickly.

  11. LOL I was gunna say the same EM..I dress mine with a rubbing of lard and sea salt LOLOL

  12. So, is there a sign outside your house now saying "A & E" ? Those chickens of yours are certainly presenting you with some serious challenges. I hope your comprehensive First Aid proves effective. Are you allowed to take proactive measures to eliminate the foxes, or are they protected?

  13. See? When I read the title I thought you had put your chicks in little jumpers.
    Poor little chook, but well done in your First Aid. Hope she recovers :)Mo

  14. Hope Penny recovers quickly. You're obviously meant to be a vegetarian homesteader and there's nothing wrong with being a sooky la la - every house needs one.

  15. Oh my what adventures the animals have at your place. Never a dull moment it seems. What have you got in your water?

  16. Oh the poor darling! You're not the only Sooky La La when it comes to chooks, but you're certainly the most dedicated, and I'm glad your girl's on the mend...

  17. Funniest photos I've seen in a long time!

  18. Oh, a harvest post, or maybe she's dressing them up.... What? Ah, a field dressing! Nice done and some darn funny pictures. Thanks!

  19. I thought you must have made Penny a pink tu tu!

  20. Oh, poor chicken, hope she mends soon, and doesn't end up being dressed for dinner!

  21. Nice work Nurse Hazel! Poor chook, sending our regards for speedy recovery :)


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