Saturday, April 18, 2009

chicken butcherin' day

(I don't think the pics I've chosen to display are disturbing, especially if you've ever bought a whole chicken at the grocery store, FYI.)

So! The end of the line for the Cornish Rock Cross chickens finally arrived. There was some skepticism within the family as to whether or not we'd go through with the killin.' But at $15 a bag for feed, with these ripe birds going through a bag and a half a week, we were ready.

Jason wanted to do it the most humanely, which after much research he determined was to hold the bird upside down until it fell asleep and then slit the jugular with a very sharp knife so that it'd bleed out. If you don't sever the spinal cord, it supposedly does less flopping and flapping. Well, we never could get a single bird to "fall asleep," and I'm not sure how upside down-er we could've held them. But I'm happy to report that every kill took only a couple of minutes and was done with the utmost of care....with one exception. I'll let Jason tell anybody that story who cares to know. The short of it is that he thought he'd try his hand at breaking one's neck, and it didn't quite work.

He was the executioner and the main eviscerator (skinner and gutter), with me helping as I could get outside between caring for Zor. The thing that struck me the most was how easy it is to skin them, like unwrapping a feathery coat. Also, their little innards are so beautiful and colorful. I did the final cleanup and packaging inside. The whole thing was easier than we'd both anticipated, but more time-consuming. It took us a whole day to cull and process 14 chickens, which seems like a long time! We watched some youtube videos of people processing a bird within a few minutes. But we were inexperienced in the ways of chicken butchering, save a day I participated in 15 years ago. Anyway, are some shots from the event, and I'll summarize our thoughts about the whole experiment at the end.

We culled the chickens at 10 weeks old, and they ended up being 2.5 to 3 pounds apiece, skinned. That, my friends, isn't much. Even if you don't count the setup cost, this is probably NOT the most economical way to eat chicken, even antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken. Of course, cost is only one factor, and in the right season with the right breed, they can forage for bugs, which cuts down significantly on feed costs. The main thing was getting the experience under our belts in case it's ever a necessity. There's definitely a sense of accomplishment in raising a portion of our food and in knowing the chickens had a decent life rather than being squished into cages.
However, our feelings were summed up in this 10:00 p.m. conversation:
Jason, shouting wearily from the shower: Man, that was a long day of butchering chickens, huh?
Me, still packaging chickens: Whoo, yeeeah.
[long, long pause for contemplation]
Jason: I don't want to be a chicken farmer.


Christi said...

I love, love, love that you guys are willing to try things out and then honestly tell the rest of us how it went. I thought it would be more gross, but it didn't look that bad. That picture of you and Jason with crazy chicken hungry faces is the best.

Anonymous said...

I helped my mother-in-law with butchering chickens...once...she did most of the work & I learned what it was about...not fun and very time consuming! So...whenever I think about maybe wanting to raise or butcher chickens, I think of that day and say "NO". I do agree with you that it is a good thing to know how to do...if I ever need to.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to sign my name to the previous post...
Nancy Simmons

lori lls said...

Any other chicken stories, folks? What's funny is that everybody we talked to who knew of our plans said, "Oh yeah, I helped butcher chickens such-and-such time. Uh, don't call me when you do yours." ha ha.

Oh, Nancy! I'm so glad you follow the blog. I was hoping you could comment on the sleeping post. I specifically thought of you! With 8kids, I am guessing you've figured out a thing or two...

handfull of johnsons said...

Yeah for you! We're trying to get chickens but we have a stupid HOA. Did you save any? Eggs wise and future chicken wise?

Rachel Clear said...


Could you send me a text ahead of time, the next time you post a blog about butchering chickens?

Although I admire your stamina and resolve in doing this, I think I will be puking and thinking the worst about that poor chicken who may, or may not, have had his neck broken.

Aaaaack. Gag. Blugfafahggadsah.

Eeeck. I cannot say enough words right now like, "Aaack" and "eeeck" and "gaaag". But that's just me. :)

Anonymous said...

Good Boy! After seeing all the chicken butchering I'm not sure if I can eat a chicken again. Your Dad was not fond of it either.


Elaine said...

That was hilarious! I especially love your labels on the packages! When we raised our own beef for the first time our boys got a kick out of asking at dinnertime if we were eating Daisy or Oreo!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sorry I missed the chicken butchering day! Aunt Melody

Anonymous said...


I love the part about "they had a decent life"

But then we just butchered em'...LOL

Anyways...I am laughing'

Karissa (Simmons) Patterson