Being new to this whole thing we were probably slow compared to the old pros. It took us about a half hour or a little more per bird from start to finish, so 8 birds took us roughly 4 1/2 hours. The first day it rained sideways the entire time, it was cold and wet work, with the temperatures hovering around freezing. It almost felt appropriate, as we mumbled words like barbaric, should we become vegetarian if this is what we will do for meat. In the end we described it as humbling, and felt it was honorable work to feed our family. However in the midst of it as we prayed over each bird and thanked it for it's life, we felt our own mortality, and also felt primal. We talked about how this was normal for thousands of years, people knew where their food came from, and experienced life and death.
Once we got over the heartsick feeling of taking a life, and the actual processing of working the chickens started, I did better. We turned up the music and worked steadily... scalding, plucking feathers, eviscerating (removing the innards), rinsing, drying and bagging. The plucking took the longest and I didn't want any pin feathers so I tried to be meticulous. We equally shared jobs, except the first part when they were put in the cone. The time from them being in their pen to crossing the rainbow bridge into chicken heaven took only seconds. We made sure the whole station was hidden from all the animals view, and that it was swift.
I think the best way to learn to eviscerate a chicken is to just get in there and do it, you'll figure it out trust me. Just make it look like a store bought chicken and get all the innards out, I saved the necks and livers to add to home-made dog food. One of the most important things in the whole process is cold running water, we were washing down everything continually. We were dressed in total rain gear from the beginning because of the rain and cold, we soon realized this was appropriate attire even when it wasn't raining.
A home-made cone, fashioned from a metal funnel we had. It probably should have been bigger, but it worked, a sharp chisel and mallet were used. Why did we do it that way? Well my husband being a wood-worker simply thought the cleanest, swiftest way was a sharp blade hit hard with a mallet.
It's a good feeling to have done it, and have it behind us, and know that we're going into winter with a freezer full of wonderful home-grown chicken meat. We decided we could do this twice a year, even though it was hard, we like knowing where our food comes from, and that they had a nice quality of life while alive. They got to lay in the sun, and eat bugs and grubs, dig in the dirt and eat grass and weeds. They were given love and care in the end, and our family is richer because of them. I still haven't weighed any of the birds, and am planning to, I'll include the average weight here when I do. Also we planned to keep track of feed and costs, however between both my husband and I buying feed, me keeping receipts and him throwing his away, there's was no way to get an accurate cost. Next Spring we plan to keep meticulous records so we can know the cost of raising them.