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Live Poultry?

  • c

(Whoops -- accidentally posted this on the Midwest board first)

Hi -- I've just found out about these live poultry markets where you can buy chickens which are slaughtered and cleaned on site for you. This sounds like a brilliant idea to me, but I can't really find out any information online about them.

First, does anyone have a list of all of them with adresses?

But my main question is, are these all created equal? Are there ones to avoid? Are some much better than others?

I'm in Hyde Park, and would like to go to the one closest to me (which I'm guessing is the Chicago Live Poultry House at 2601 W. 26th). Does anyone have any experience with this one in particular?

How are the birds raised? How much should I expect to pay (e.g. for a 3lb ready to cook bird, what would the corresponding weight of a live bird be)?

What are typical hours? Are they open on Sundays?

Anyway, thanks in advance for any help you can give.


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  1. You may find the thread that I've linked below--initiated in June 2002--to be of some use to you.

    Good Luck,
    Erik M.

    Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Erik M.

      Does anybody know if Windy City Poultry is still in existence- used to be on S. Kedzie around 45th? It was also a good place for live, pick 'em out poultry.

    2. e
      Eldon Kreider

      If you buy chicken at a live poultry store, you should be aware that cooking chicken while in rigor mortis produces one tough bird. Either cook it real fast (less than an hour from slaughter to pan) or wait until the muscles relax. Long ago I raised chickens and dressed them out, so I remember this problem but not how long it takes for the muscles to relax. It would be a pity to have a bad experience with what will be a premium-priced bird.

      Chicken in the stores I have seen are kept in batteries, which are cages stacked on top of each other. Battery chicken used to be a pejorative due to low quality from the cramped growing conditions. If the chickens haven't been kept in batteries too long, the quality may be OK.

      Live poultry stores tend to come and go as they aren't the best neighbors and tend to serve ethnic groups where the history of refrigeration and chicken quality aren't all that great. One not mentioned in the thread cited in another post has a rather mysterious name. The sign outside says Live Zahiba Poultry although there is no telephone listing under that name. Several languages are in the sign. This store in in what is probably the crummiest block in Lincoln Square.

      Live Zahiba Poultry
      2741 West Lawrence Avenue

      1 Reply
      1. re: Eldon Kreider

        Thanks for the tips. I hadn't thought about rigor mortis, but after searching online, I think I need to wait 4-8 hours after slaughter for rigor mortis to pass. So, I guess I'll be going early in the morning.

        As for the quality -- the whole reason why I'm excited by this is that I expect the birds to taste better than what I can get at a grocery store, or even Whole Foods, for what I'm guessing is about a $3 premium. Ideally, I'd think these places would get their birds trucked in from farms and growers in Indiana or Michigan 1-3 times a week, so the bird I'm getting has not been in a battery for more than 2-3 days. I certainly don't want a bird raised in a cage like that. I'm guessing the more established markets are better about this, though maybe I'll ask when I go. But this is the sort of thing I was asking about when I asked if all of these places are created equal. And maybe I'm mistaken about the quality, and Whole Foods is the best place to get poultry in Chicago.

        At least, this should be an experience for me...

      2. There is still a live poultry place located right off the corner of Fullerton and Austin, just east of austin on fullerton on the south side of the street. They have everything live and ready to be purchased from chickens to turkeys to rabbits. They have been there for as long as i've lived and usually pick up a bird every now and then.

        1. I just stumbled upon this and had the same questions as the first poster.

          As far as price and quality goes, can anybody comment on the Chicago Live Poultry House on 26th street?


          1. I went past the store last week and the smell was so overwhelming that I could not head into the store. We used to raise and butcher our own chickens and still the smell was too strong.

            1. I have had nothing but wonderful experiences with live kill chicken establishments. By far, the best one is on Chicago and Ashland (northside of Chicago a little West of Ashland). For the life of me I can't think of the name. This establishment has been there since the turn of the century and are very clean (you can view their city health inspection). In addition to chickens, they also have rabbit, turkey, and quail eggs.

              1. We bought two ducks from the live poultry store on Western just north of Devon last year, and it was a miserable experience from beginning to end. The place stank, and was not a sight for the squeamish. They took longer than they said they would to dress the birds (we left to shop elsewhere on Devon while this was going on) so we ended up standing in this horrible place waiting. They left the heads on, despite our request that they be removed.

                But worst of all, the birds were just awful after they were cooked. My theory is that they had trapped them at the local park. They were scrawny and tough. A frozen bird which I bought from Jewel (because I realized two ducks were not going to be enough, and I wasn't going back to that place) was very nice, tasty and tender and much meatier.

                I have no particular vegetarian sympathies, and if these ducks had tasted good, the horrors of the acquisition would have quickly been forgotten. But to deal with the slaughter and then have bad duck was too much.

                This meal ranks right up there with the favorite family stories of dinners gone so bad you can only laugh.

                1. There's a live poulty butcher on Armitage (I think...otherwise it's on Chicago or Division). The stench inside is unbearable but such is life when looking for live poultry.