Thursday, November 20, 2008

Its been a while!!!

The new toy.  My MPU.

The MPU arrived yesterday after a short 2 hour drive to and from Mifflinburg, PA.  I purchased the unit from Eli Reiff, the Poultryman.  Eli was a gracious host, as always, and built this unit for me.  There are 6 killing cones on the side of the trailer, a propane fired scalding unit, a plucker, and an eviscerating table and a primary chill tank.  The MPU can probably process 50 birds per hour with a crew of 3, and perhaps as many as 70 or so with a good crew of 4.

Everything is stainless steel.  The scalder and plucker can hold about 30 pounds of birds at a time.  That should be about 6 five pound chickens or one big Tom turkey.  The process goes like this:

The night before you are to slaughter and process the birds they are collected and put into pens, or cages.  You want to withhold food for their last 8 hours.  We dont want a crop full of grass or grain and a gut full of poop.  Makes for icky processing.

The next morning I arrive early with my trailer.  The scalder is filled with water up to the middle and the burner is lit.  As the water heats up, everyone chats and makes small talk.  Next, the fun begins.  The chickens are removed from their cages and one by one they are put head first into the cones and we make like a slasher movie.  They are quickly dispatched and allowed to bleed out.  After a minute or two of bleed out, they are put into the scalder at 147 degrees for approximately 50 seconds.  There is a timer.  Which is good because Id forget about them.

Then they are put into the plucker and tumbled around for another 50 seconds or so until they are plucked clean.  Then the feet come off and the oil gland at the base of the tail (called "the Bishop's nose" for some reason).   Then an incision is made around the vent and the intestines are pulled out.  The heart, liver and gizzard are removed, the neck cut off, the windpipe and crop removed from the neck area, and the lungs are pulled out and the bird is washed out.  The gizzard can be cleaned and the heart can have its outer fat and membranes cut off with scissors.  
Next the bird gets a bath in cold water to start chilling it down to below 40 degrees as quickly as possible to help prevent the growth of bacteria.

And then the birds are moved to a secondary tank of ice water to cool and voila!  Done!

The birds can be put in the fridge for a day or frozen right away.  If you want to eat them fresh, its best to wait 24 hours for them to relax or age.  Rigor mortis does wonders for flavor.  Birds eaten too soon tend to be tough.   The birds can be vacuum packed too.

Turkeys are processed the same way.  They are just much bigger and go in the scalder and plucker one at a time.  Ducks are harder, they dont like to lose their feathers.  Eli says to put some Dawn detergent in the scalder and to scald them longer to help loosen the feathers.  They still dont pluck clean as easily as the other birds. 

Im excited to have the tools to process my own birds.  They are gonna be some tasty eating next spring!  

We are going to need a bigger freezer.



Blue Heron Farm said...


So you can process them in the field? I had no idea. The rules must be easier there....I think it has to be a cement floored facility in TX.

Congrats. That thing is fabulous!

the story poet said...

Oh, this looks like a far more sanitary operation than what I witnessed from Wasilla. I am so impressed. I hadn't realized the Amish farmer constructed this machine. I just figured you'd order this from Farm and Fleet.