Illustrated guide on how to butcher a chicken. (Warning, gory pictures!) Having seen quite a few threads on new raw feeders recently starting their dogs on chicken, I thought an illustrated guide how to butcher a whole chicken might be handy. Now, whilst chicken in itself is an inexpensive meat and comes ready butchered in packets of thighs, quarters, wings and breast quite often whole chickens can be a touch cheaper than their butchered counterparts. I often see whole chickens reduced at the end of the day, this particular chicken in the following photos was £1.69 in the co-op at the end of the day. However, when I first started feeding raw I didn't even look at the whole chickens as anything else but roast. Afterall, I'm not a butcher, I didn't have a clue how to butcher anything! But, one night after picking up two chickens for the bargain price of two pounds fifty a pop at sainsburys on the reduced isle my other half coaxed me into trying to tear it apart. I'll admit it- I butchered that first chicken to the sky, it looked dreadful and the 'cuts' that I got from the chicken were hardly the uniform cuts that you normally get... But, it taught me one thing, and that was not to be scared of a whole chicken. It's suprisingly easy to tear into various parts and even those who lack decent knife skills (like myself) can make a good attempt at it. Now, as a disclaimer, my knife skills aren't brill. So expect messy cuts and I apologise in advance to any butchers on this forum who may be pulling their hair out as to the lack of neatness of the job. But, at the end of the day, Pixel isn't one for pristine cuts and the messier the better (as it normally means he gets more meat attached to his cuts!). As a second warning, there will be pictures of a butchered chicken below and those with a weak disposition may not want to go any further. ----- Right, for starters, you're going to start with your basic whole chicken. You will also need: 1. A chicken. 2. A pair of sharp scissors. 3. A chopping board. 4. A large knife. 5. A small knife. 6. A rolling pin. Now, I bought a pair of knives specially for hacking up Pixel's chicken. They don't have to be expensive, but they do need to be able to go through bones. I bought a pair of Morrison's basic knives which have dulled over the time I've used them, but they do the job. Also, as a note here, please don't mind the state of my chopping board, I need to buy a new one after my slow cooker decided to melt a hole through it! However, it still works for the job, so please bear with my battered board. Firstly, you want to take the chicken out of the packet, and place him down onto the chopping board back down. From now on I'm going to refer to the back as the 'bottom' of the chicken and the 'breast' as the top of the chicken (where the breast meat is) when you need to turn the chicken over. Now, what you'll see is that our dear chicken is all tucked in. This is to A: reduce packaging and B: make our chicken look a bit meatier than it actually is so it looks more appepitising. However, what we need to do is remove the string (just cut it off with a pair of scissors and remove) and untuck the legs and wings. Stretch your chicken out, and have a look at it. There in front of you is ten cuts of meat: two thighs, two drumsticks, two wings, two breast pieces, a back and the carcass. Now, the first thing that we're going to do is take off the leg quarters. Pop the chicken breast side down onto the board and you'll see where the thigh starts. Stick your finger gently beneath the skin of the chicken and cut the skin with a pair of scissors all the way around the joint. If you can't see where the joint is, then cut the skin up from the back up the middle and around the leg cutting close to the body. (You should be able to see a ridge above the drumstick- this is where the breast bone is with the breast meat attached- you want to cut below this). Now your skin has gone, pull the leg away from the body until the ball of the thighbone pops out from the hip socket. You should be able to feel it popping- and see it pop out when you do it correctly. It should come out with minimum pressure, but don't be afraid to yank it if you're having real problems. Now, take your scissors and cut gently between the ball and the socket to remove the leg from the body. Voila, you have a quarter (thigh and drumstick) - now, that wasn't too hard, was it? Rinse and repeat on the other side now. Now, pop those quarters to one side. You have two choices with these, you can keep them whole or you can butcher them into thigh and drumstick like I do later on. For now, pop them over to one side. The next step is the step I have to admit I find the second most difficult. To remove the wings you want to pop the chicken breast side down again. Feel around the wing near the body and you'll be able to find the joint. Once again, take your scissors and cut around the skin: the big reason I do this is so that I can see the meat itself, it makes it easier for me to joint. Now, pull that wing away from the body and cut down through the joint. Use a big knife, and if it's taking some effort then gently whack your knife through the bone with a rolling pin. Just place your knife on the joint (I'd suggest your large knife here so you don't accidently hit your hand), and then tap it through with the pin. Then, rinse and repeat on the other side- there you go, two wings. If you're anything like me, they're very messy wings. I very rarely get the wings out 'cleanly', so don't worry too much about it. Pop your wings to the side and we now have two quarters, and two wings. Our actual chicken should be looking a lot rounder now. Right, on the next part there are various ways of doing this: I'll explain one way in the diagrams and then write out another way of doing this below. Tip your chicken up onto it's rump, looking down into the chicken you should be able to see the ribcage with the breast meat attached and the back below. If you look to the section between the ribs and the back- you want to cut around there to seperate the carcass into two. Take your scissors (or little knife) and gently chop around the outside of the chicken at the end of the ribs to seperate the top and bottom of the carcass. (Image of chicken from down showing where the ribs are.) You shouldn't need to go through any bone doing this, however if you find resistance- then the knife and the rolling pin always come in handy once again. Now, you should have your chicken back (which is suprisingly quite meaty) and the top half of your carcass complete with breast. As the breast meat is going to be used for my tea, I'm going to opt to cut it off from the bone here, but should the chicken be going to the dog completely then lay the top half of the carcass down on the board. Place a knife in the centre of the breast- and chop directly down seperating the two breasts in half. This will give you a really meaty cut with a bit of boney rib cage attached. You may also need the rolling pin at this point to seperate the two. However, as I'm going to be using this particular chicken for mine and the other halfs dinner tonight I've opted to do this slightly differently. If you want the breast meat seperate, then take your knife and cut around the breast to seperate it from the bone. I'm dreadul at this, this is more than likely my worst bit so to speak, but you should be able to seperate the meat from the carcass. If you've done it properly, you should end up with a fairly boney top carcass, but if you're anything like me then there's bound to be a fair bit of meat left on there! (I actually cut a bit more meat off this carcass for our tea, but you could leave it like that with quite a bit of meat on it. ) Right- so now we have a back, a rib cage carcass, two quarters, two wings and two lumps of breast meat. Brill: we're almost done. Now, if you have a small dog, then what I do for Pixel is to cut the back in half. I take a knife half way down and simply cut it directly in half so he has two backs. Our last step is to section those quarters (if you want to section them- you could leave them whole). Firstly, I cut the skin again around the thigh, and then cut 'up' the drumstick where it meets the thigh. I tend to do this cut by eye, think about how a drumstick looks and then cut up: if I've done it properly I'll hit the joint between the thigh and drumstick. If you want to make this more obvious for yourself, then you could pull the drumstick and the thigh away from eachother which should show you where the joint is. Then it is simply a case of cutting directly between the joint to seperate the two cuts of meat. Take your knife, place it over the area you want to cut between and then gently cut the pair apart. Voila, you should now have a lump of thigh and a drumstick. Great- now rinse and repeat for the other. If you've got this far then that's as far as this chicken goes. You should have ten sections of chicken (more if you choose to section up the back) with various meaty and boney cuts. All that's left to do now is to pop each part in a freezer bag and store until you're ready to feed your dog. Well done- that wasn't so scary, was it? You'll get better at doing it with practice, and soon it'll be second nature. Now, don't be scared of a whole chicken ever again. If anybody likes this guide, would you also like a guide on how to portion up a rabbit? I quite often get whole rabbits in, and I'd be happy to show you how to portion that up too.