Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

It was only last Sunday that I learnt how to fry chicken blood to serve as a tapa. Before then, I had always given it to the neighbour’s dog – but not any more. Sorry dog.

When you kill the chicken and cut the neck, drain the blood onto a plate with a sprinkling of salt. Once the blood has congealed, sprinkle a bit more salt on top and cut into squares.

Fried Chicken Blood

Fried Chicken Blood

Get 5 or so large cloves of garlic and cut into thick slices, skin and all. Fry gently in a frying pan until golden.

Fried Chicken Blood
Fried Chicken Blood

Gently add the blood squared and fry until they have puffed up. It is important not to fry them for too long or they will taste like rubber.

The blood has completely different taste to what you might expect and tastes more like egg yolk.

Pour the contents of the pan into a shallow bowl and serve with small chunks of bread.

Chickens at 12 weeks

Chickens at 12 weeks

Chickens at 12 weeks

The chickens are now 12 weeks’ old and are growing well.

Chickens at 12 weeks

One of the male chickens: he’s developing white-coloured ears like his father

 The males have started to adopt male posturing and one of them has even tried to crow – although the noise that came out was more like a warble.

Female Chicken at 12 weeks

Female Chicken at 12 weeks

None of the females has laid an egg yet.

About 10 days after the photo was taken we killed two of the males. We are going to have to kill them at some point so thought that now was as good a time as ever. They did not have much meat on them and there is massive difference between these and the chickens we kill for eating at about the same time. Still, we ate one (chicken casserole and chicken soup) and put the other in the freezer for later.

Chick update: chicks are two months old today

young chicks

Chicks after 8 weeks

It was only when I looked at photos of when the chicks had hatched that I realised that they were born exactly 2 months ago today (27th May 2013).

I have now taken the rooster back to the neighbour and the three older chickens keep the young ones in check.

A couple of the young male chickens have already started play-fighting but it’s not serious and they soon get bored.

The total count is 4 females and 5 males so I’m really pleased: the whole point of increasing the flock of laying hens has been achieved.

8-week-old chicks

Chicks at 8 weeks: female on the left, males in the centre and on the right

Because I was going to be getting some more eating chickens we cleaned out and disinfected the greenhouse in preparation. However, the shop won’t be getting eating chickens in until the middle of August.

I’ve closed the door to the greenhouse and yesterday the chicks ventured inside for the first time.

Killing chickens

Killing chickens using a cone

Killing chickens using a cone

Today I had to kill one of the eating chickens. It hadn’t been eating and spent most of its time hiding beneath the feeder which meant that it would be attacked whenever one of the other chickens came for food. I bought the chicks on the 8th May 2013 and when I asked the shopkeeper how old they were at the time, he said 2 or 3 weeks. By my calculation, therefore, they were born on about 24th April 2013

Last year, we killed the chickens when they were 12 weeks old and they were quite big by then. The chicken I killed today was about 8 weeks old. It was pathetically puny but I didn’t want to wait for it to die like last year when we lost two.

Most people recommend killing eating chickens at around 10-12 weeks. Any longer than that and they are really getting too heavy and spend most of their day eating.

I’ve found the best way to slaughter a chicken is to use a chicken cone and a poultry dispatcher (which is a cross between a clamp and a pair of scissors and which I bought from Ascott Dairy Supplies). The cone is mounted on the wall above a table where you can put a bowl to catch the blood. If you want to use the blood, put a pinch of salt in the container to stop it congealing.

The best time is early in the morning when the chickens are calmer and before they have been able to eat or drink too much. Catch the chicken and hold it upside down by its feet. Put them head first into the cone so that the head comes out through the hole. Still holding the feet, clamp the neck with the dispatcher so that you cut off the blood supply to the brain (you may need to use two hands). Wait until the chicken stops moving and then bleed it by cutting its neck – just below its ear on the side, avoiding the throat. Leave the chicken in place until it has stopped bleeding. Cut the bird’s head off completely.

The next step is to pluck the chicken. Heat some water in a saucepan which is large enough so that you can completely submerge the bird. The temperature should be about 68-70ºC. Dunk the bird 3 or 4 times and you’ll then find that the feathers come out really easily.

1. Cut off the feet
Lay the bird on its back. Using a sharp knife, cut off the feet off by cutting between the joint and through the tendons.

2. Remove and loosen the crop
Unlike mammals whose food goes directly into the stomach, chickens first store their food in the crop which is a sack just above their right breast. From the neck end, using your fingers, find and hook out the crop, pulling it slowly away from the bird. 

3. Remove the oil gland
The oil gland is just above the parson’s nose and looks like a lump of fatty tissue. You will need to cut down into the flesh and then follow the line of the parson’s nose. It is quite small.

4. Open up the back end of the chicken
The idea is to make as small a hole as possible and not cut through any of the intestines. Pinch and lift the skin directly above the parson’s nose and carefully cut round the rectum to detach it from the rest of the body. Insert your fingers into the hole and hook them round the intestines. Pull away carefully to remove all the innards and intestines. Feel inside to check that everything has been removed and then rinse out.

Plucked chicken

Plucked and prepared chicken

Rearing the chicks

recently hatched chick

28th May 2013: recently hatched chick

 Although one chick hatched on the 20th day of incubation (28th May 2013), by the morning of the 21st day another seven had hatched. One was still chipping through and followed shortly after. 

After hatching, I left the chicks in the incubator to dry out. I then moved them to a box with paper shreddings and some food and water, putting them back in the heated incubator at night.

recenytly hatched chicks

28th May 2013: chicks had hatched during the night

I then transferred them to a larger box with a sprinkling of sawdust on the floor. The feeder was an upturned plastic lid with a smaller glass to stop them walking through the food. I put some water in a flan mould filled with clay baking beans so that they wouldn’t drown in the water.

1st June 2013: chicks are four days old

1st June 2013: chicks are four days old

 For more about the incubation process, see this: incubating the eggs

Hatching eggs in an incubator

eggs in incubator

Eggs in incubator

We put the 14 eggs in the incubator on 7th May 2013. I’m not sure how many had been fertilised but we should be able to see after 7 days.

The incubator has a rotating mechanism so it is not necessary to turn the eggs manually.

Every two days, we need to put some more water into the tray beneath so as to maintain the humidity level necessary for the eggs to hatch.

Last night, we put more water in and I took a couple of eggs out to candle them.

It was really exciting to see blood vessels developing inside some of the eggs and you could clearly see the outline of a minute chick.

I’m going to leave them for another 4 days and look again so that I can get rid of any that aren’t fertilised.

Apparently, it is easier to look at white eggs than brown ones and as the days went by, all I could see was some blood vessels and the air sac getting bigger. I couldn’t see any signs of life as some people on Internet were able to.

UPDATE 18th May 2013 (11th day)
When I looked at the eggs after 8 days it is not clear whether they are alive or not. I was expecting to see a heart beating but all I saw was a dark shadow and a larger air pocket at one end. I’ve no idea whether any will hatch or not, but here’s hoping.

Anyway, here is what I have learned so far about hatching and incubating eggs:
1. The eggs take 21 days to hatch
2. The ideal temperature for the incubator is 37.5ºC

On the 18th day, Saturday 25th May 2013, I took the incubator off the rocking cradle. For the last three days of their incubation, the eggs will not be moved. The separators of the incubator are also removed. It is also necessary to increase the humidity level just before they hatch.

On Sunday evening, one of the eggs had a hole in it and chirping could be heard. Throughout the next day the chick broke through and emerged:

  For more about the chicks progress after incubation, see this: rearing the chicks

Rooster update

roosterSo far, the rooster has shown absolutely no interest sexually in any of the hens. One of the tell-tale signs is missing feathers and all three hens have a full set.

Last night (30th April 2013), however, we spotted the rooster mounting one of the hens.

This morning, there were two eggs in the nest but I’ve got no way of knowing whether one of them belonged to that hen or not. I think I’ll keep a note of the number of eggs per day and see what happens.

Rooster sperm apparently stays in the female for up to three weeks so that should hopefully be enough for her clutch of 12 eggs. Fingers crossed he was successful.

Candling eggs

candling-1It’s now been a week since I introduced the rooster to the hens and there has been no action whatsoever. He is right at the bottom of the pecking order and the newest hen who used to occupy that position seems positively pleased that she has now got someone else to pick on.

Day by day he gets more confident and last night he slept in the same manger as the other three so who knows.

I noticed that there was a blood spot in one of the eggs that I cracked yesterday when making some aioli and wondered whether this was in fact the first sign of fertilisation. After exploring a bit on Internet I read about candling the eggs to see if they had been fertilised.

So armed with a torch I looked at the eggs.


The weird light effect is just the surgical glove I was wearing but you can clearly see the air sac at one end of the egg

To candle an egg, turn off the ligths in the room and hold the egg over a torch. I used one of those pocket torches with LED lights. If the egg has been fertilised, you should see a more opaque area. Mine all look the same so it looks as though they haven’t been fertilised yet. Or I’m looking for the wrong thing.

candling-3Unfortunately, it is impossible to know whether the egg is fertile so early on. The embryo only starts developing once the mother hen starts sitting on the eggs.

The only way is to crack open the egg as that way you can see the cloudy sperm in the yolk.