Friday, June 18, 2010

Photo Phriday: Oviduct

One doesn't normally deliberately kill a productive laying hen.* So when Dale McNugget departed this mortal coil last week and I dressed her out for the dogs' dinner, there was something other than the usual giblets inside.

I was surprised to see so many egg yolks, lined up in her oviduct and clustered around her ovary.

Chickens (all birds) have two ovaries when the are born, but only the left one (right one in some raptors -- don't ask why because I don't know) develops and produces eggs.

This is a lot of good-sized (i.e. fairly developed) yolks, but apparently not outside normal limits. I asked around.


* The ornery Daughter of Henery who drew blood while I was gathering eggs last week may find herself an exception sealed her fate by breaking into the turkey coop and killing several hatchling poults; she had fewer eggs lined up than Dale, but was more interesting, as one was in the chamber getting shell laid on when I converted her to curry ingredients.


  1. Wow, I've never seen the beginnings of an egg before. So that's the yolk and then it gets the shell later in the process? Very cool. But I'm quite glad I wasn't eating breakfast right now.

  2. That just reminds me of how much I like farm eggs.

    I can't stand those things that come in cartons. However, I can only get them seasonally.

    But actually they are far cheaper.

    There's a fellow who lives down the road whose hens are laying so many eggs right now that he swears even his roosters are dropping them. He sends them along as gifts.

    Those eggs stand up when you put them in a frying pan. They don't all go to mush when you're cooking them.

    Maybe we should become more seasonal eaters.

    I don't know.

    But something is pretty unnatural about getting sweat shop eggs in the middle of January.

  3. You're mean.

    Bright, fresh, richly aromatic yolks in a dog bowl, sitting on the porch swing.

    Is that Cole guarding/coveting?


  4. OK, so you knew way before you got chikins that you'd be dispatching and processing them.

    I hope this isn't a stupid question, but had you done it before? As in, like, growing up?

    How do you send them (and the turkeys) off this mortal coil? And you pluck them by hand?

    I am not squeamish about whee my food comes from. I'd probably flinch the first time I had to kill a chicken, but I'd get used to it. I'm sure I'd find it harder with goats and cows, if I had to do those. But your goats are milk goats and breeding goats, right? So no slaughtering those personally?

    Sorry for the questions.

  5. Eli --

    I think you are the only mammalian biped who has ever found bloody yolks from inside a hen appetizing.

    That's just Pip snoozing under the bench -- already in situ when I went outside to take the photo.

    They all split them for dinner that night.

    "Is this egg fresh?"

    Um, yeah.

  6. Mailey --

    The first time I killed and dressed an animal for food was the first time I shot a deer. I was in my late 30's. I did it from advice from my hunting mentors and out of books. Shooting the deer was very difficult for me; dressing him out was actually kind of interesting, if a bit daunting. The fetal pig lab in high school was the closest I'd come, otherwise, and that certainly did not connect with "food" in any way. Blech.

    What a long, strange trip it's been.

    The poultry that we raise specifically for meat go to a professional processor, who has the skill and facilities to handle large numbers efficiently and cleanly. The hand-plucking is the main limiting factor. It takes me forever and gives me de carpal tunnel if I have to do more than, say, two birds. Perfesser Chaos is actually better at it, and significantly faster as well.

    When I have to do in a bird myself (injury that requires euthanasia, mean rooster, etc.) I will kill him via "cervical dislocation" which is the fastest, most humane way, then bleed the dead bird out (that's exsanguinate for Rob and Kelly) by cutting the carotid and hanging him in a metal cone made for this purpose. (The cone prevents the reflex flapping that gives rise to the phrase "chicken with its head cut off." Not only is this post-mortem reflex gruesome, it tends to break wings. And yes, we KNOW they are really dead -- sometimes cervical dislocation dislocates the whole head. I'd rather be too forceful than not forceful enough.)

    This is never something I look forward to.

    But in not a whole lot of years, I've found myself converted from an urbanite whose response when the German shepherd kills a cottontail was "OMG! What do I do!?" to a practical minded pseudo-hick -- "You gonna eat that? No? Hassenpfeffer it is!"

    (The English shepherds do "eat that" every time.)

  7. Thanks, Heather, for the explanation. I imagine the plucking would be extremely tiresome.

    If only everyone could be at the stage of "You gonna eat that?"

  8. Plucking is not so bad if it is one or two birds. It is strangely satisfying in a monkey-compelled-to-groom way, especially when I get the scald just right and they just pull right out in handfuls. Wing feathers are troublesome.

    But the automatic drum pluckers are one of the seven wonders of the world. Some people make their own out of old washing machines and other parts. You buy the rubber fingers special.

    You scald five or six birds, throw them in the drum, turn the thing on, and 30 seconds later you have perfectly nekkid birds.

    I have neither the swag to buy a plucker nor the aptitude to make one, but I do covet a drum plucker.

  9. I covet those drum pluckers because I so rarely get the scald right. But also I rarely butcher a chicken(especially with a rat sanke both eating the setting hen's eggs and breaking her broodiness) so there's no way I can justify the money.

    As for the 'you gonna eat that?' that's how I know what squirrel tastes like. I had a cat that would catch the occasional squirrel but not eat it. So I helped him out.

  10. Interesting photo, thanks for sharing.

  11. I was imagining the aroma being enticing to the dogs. Not enticing to me, no imaginating about it.

    I first learned to process chickens, from the time the mailman dropped em off until they hit the oven/grill, from a very young age. I was taught to dislocate the cervical vertibrae and exsanguinate in one step.

    Since we never cared for the skin anyways, we skipped the whole scalding and plucking bit and took the feathers off by removing the skin.

    Not a pleasant task, but one that needs to be done quickly and efficiently, or not at all.



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