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.