Saturday, August 27, 2011

Butchering Chickens

Sense of Home Kitchen

We spent our afternoon butchering chickens with friends.  Early this summer friends of ours said they were planning to buy some chicks to raise for food and asked if we would like them to raise some for us as well, of course we said yes.  Part of the deal was our willingness to help them butcher.  My husband grew up butchering chickens in the fall with his family.  I had no chicken experience, but I did help butcher turkeys on two occasions.  I have no objection to eating meat, but I do have an objection to the way much of the meat available for purchase is raised.  Feedlots and the close quarters chickens are raised in turns my stomach, so we buy our beef from my husbands family, chickens from friends or local family farms, and pork from a local family farm.  I feel fine about eating meat when I know the animals have been treated well, I have seen how they were raised, and I know they are healthy, quality meat.

These chickens were fed grains and seeds, and allowed to roam freely eating all the bugs they wished.  I would have liked to have borrowed them to eat the slugs in my garden, but that is a post for another day.  The killing was swift, one quick motion, and we then moved on to gutting and pulling feathers.  These birds are an excellent size, they said they watched closely so that the chickens were not over fed, causing their legs to give out under their weight, this happens on large chicken farms where they are over fed and do not get exercise.

Not all the chickens were butchered today.  Our friends let their children each chose a chicken to keep, so three birds were spared.  They said they are not sure how these birds will fare over the winter, but they will keep them around as pets and perhaps they will even begin to lay eggs, time will tell.  The children helped some with the butchering, played with the live chickens and also played with the discarded chicken feet, they are rural children.

This is Princess, one of the chickens whose life was spared.

These are some of the family's laying hens.  We went home with a dozen of their eggs today.  I am looking forward to the many meals all the chickens have provided us, both the laying hens and the meat birds.