plucking and butchering pigeons

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Introduction on plucking and butchering pigeons

This morning I got 7 pigeons from a friend of mine to butcher and eat. He knows I’m good at it and he knows I love the meat.

plucking and butchering pigeons, me sitting and the table

I know butchering animals is a bit of a controversial practice but I don’t want to give the impression that I’m a vegetarian. I’ve been plucking and butchering pigeons, chickens, and rabbits for a really long time and it is part of my homesteading business (if you could call it a business).

Plucking dry or wet?

Plucking and butchering pigeons is like the easier and smaller version of plucking and butchering chickens.

With chickens, you need water if you want to keep the skin intact. That water has to have a temperature of 65°C and you have to put the chicken in the hot water for about 30 seconds to a minute, then you can start plucking the feathers without damaging the skin.

For plucking a pigeon, no water is needed. The skin of pigeons is quite a bit tougher than the skin of chickens and you can easily pluck pigeons dry.

Plucking is a habit you have to learn while doing because it’s a specific technique of pinching and pulling and it’s really difficult to explain. It’s better to just try it and have a feeling on how it works out best for you.

removing the insides.

The crop

Once the plucking is done, the cleaning of the inside has to be done. This is almost the same as plucking chickens but in a smaller cavity. You can remove the crop – the enlarged part of the esophagus – by gently pulling the skin away from the crop and removing the connection between the crop and the rest of the chest area.

The belly area

Once the crop is loosened, it’s time to open up the belly area. The belly area is the front part, between the cloaca and the chest. It’s really easy to see the v-shape of the chest and you can cut right beneath it. Don’t cut too deep. The first time it’s best to slice it gently until you can see the cavity. Just make sure you don’t cut into the intestines. Then you open up the hole you created with your hands and then the sticky, dirty job begins.

You have to put your two fingers into the chest area and release any tissue between the chest cavity and the intestines so you can pull out the heart, the liver, the kidneys and all the rest by pulling back with your two fingers.

Releasing the tissue is done by going around the intestines against the chest area and push your fingers through any tissue that connects everything together.

It is possible that you don’t get the heart and the lungs at once but that’s a matter of training and habit. The first concern is the gallbladder attached to the liver.

The gallbladder

plucking and butchering pigeons, cleaned pigeon

As long as the gallbladder is in one whole piece (it’s shaped like a long raindrop and it has a green color), the rest can be done with ease. Just check to feel if you don’t feel any soft tissue anymore. As this can be lung tissue and it has to be removed.

Don’t forget to remove the esophagus. You can pull it right through

When you have removed everything from the inside of the bird, you can remove the feet on the first joint counting from the feet up.

And now you’re done.

Cutting the wings when plucking and butchering pigeons

You can cut the bird’s wings on the first joint next to the shoulder. So it’s not necessary to pluck the whole wing. There’s no real meat on the wing, so the wing can be removed without loss.

I think I explained everything about it. And I’m sure I’ll get some hate for writing this article but for us, it’s just a part of life.

To make it a little bit easier I made a small video about it.


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