University of Maryland Extension

Home Processing and Egg Laying/ Handling

Home Processing

The quality of ready-to-cook chicken is only as good as the live bird. When choosing chickens to be processed; look for healthy, well-finished chickens. Consider the weight and age that are desirable for your particular need. It is also recommended to withhold feed for 9-12 hours before processing to limit fecal contamination from the gut.
For good flavor, it is essential that the chicken be well bled. One of the best methods of killing and bleeding is to cut the jugular vein (on each side of the neck). During the process, the chicken should be hung by the feet so that it will not bump other objects and bruise the meat or be soiled.

Immersing the chicken in hot water so that the feathers are easily removed is called scalding. Scald water should be between 130 and 160 degrees F. Scald for approximately 1 ½ minutes for adequate feather removal. A large pot with a propane burner works well for scalding.
Remove the head, feet and viscera. Wash the chicken thoroughly in clean water and chill promptly to below 40 degrees F.

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