Several years ago when we decided to get chickens, we knew that a consequence of having them would be that we would eventually have to butcher them. While we could have decided to keep them as pets, we felt it was important to acknowledge that while they were providing us eggs during their best years, they would eventually be a food source in their own right. After all that is an important part of our desire to be self-sufficient - being able to provide ourselves with fresh meat from the animals we have raised.
For years we kept the hens, talking about the eventual demise of some of them, and tried to find tutorials and information that would help us figure out how to most humanely butcher them. When we picked up the 25 roosters this spring, we both agreed it was time to figure it out and get past whatever was blocking us from doing the job ourselves. I have to say, while tutorials are reasonably plentiful online, it would have been nice had we found a mentor to walk us through the process. At one point several months ago, I thought we had found someone, but the moment to get together never occurred.
While a mentor would have been nice, when we finally decided on a day to slaughter our first chicken it actually wasn't as emotionally difficult as either of us had thought it would be. We decided to do one bird, and see how it went. I had read stories of it taking almost two hours your first time, because you don't know what you are doing. It seemed simple enough, though. Kill bird, pluck, eviscerate, clean up, cool/freeze/eat. That is pretty much how it went, too. As usual we split the work without really talking about it before hand. While both Greg and I are fairly sensitive people, we were able to deal with the whole chicken in about 30-45 minutes. We served him up for lunch the next day, and he was pretty darn tasty. I believe that Claire has decided that she wants nothing to deal with store-bought birds again as their taste was so poor in comparison. She turns her nose up at the paltry offerings from the fast-food place when her grandparents have offered.
Since that first time we have processed the rest of our extra roosters (we are keeping one who prefers to live with the goats), and all but two of our male ducks. We have plans to butcher a couple of the turkeys for the holidays coming up, which will be interesting. They are so much bigger than what we have handled so far, and considerably stronger. We also saved the duck down and feathers for making our own down pillow. I am so excited to be able to do such a project that brings a more well-rounded feeling to this whole experience!! I'll let you all know how that goes once I get the ticking for the pillow. But for now, goodnight.