Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why We Eat Our Chickens

Some of my friends and acquaintances are surprised that we eat our chickens. And I suppose that there are folks that keep chickens as pets and therefore would never consider eating them. But our chickens are not pets, even though a few of them have names. They are here because they have work to do. All of the hens lay eggs, the roosters guard the flock from predators and fertilize eggs,  a few hens are good broody mamas, and they all provide meat sooner or later. When I look at my adorable, fluffy yellow chicks I can't imagine them as food on my plate just because they undergo such a physical transformation. By the time they are big enough to slaughter (around 20 weeks of age for a non-hybrid breed like these) they will have changed from cute fluffy chicks to awkward, ugly teenage chickens, to big and (increasingly) aggressive cockerels. When they get to that age it will be time for them to go. 

Hatcheries have to kill thousands of male chicks because there is almost no market for them. Commercial chicken producers raise only one type of chicken for meat: Cornish hybrids, which can grow to butchering size in just 7-8 weeks. For all of the other (dozens) of breeds, there is simply no market for the males. Hens don't need roosters in order to lay eggs and many cities prohibit keeping roosters, so backyard chicken enthusiasts rarely keep roosters at all. Country folks with large flocks can only keep a few. So I feel good that these 8 male chicks that we got will get raised up in a pleasant environment with plenty of fresh air and green grass and bugs. They will get 5 months of living like real chickens (unlike factory birds) and then we will butcher them as humanely as possible and not a bit of their meat will be wasted. And my family will be fed on food we raised ourselves. I think it is a win-win situation for us and the birds.


  1. that make sense....not sure i could do the slaughtering though. It's been done like that for lots and lots of years. we city folk are so out of touch on where are food comes from. sure sounds healthier and is it cheaper? more power to you and your family for finding your way and your happiness. xo Denice

  2. I do think it is healthier and it *can* be cheaper. It depends on your expenses. I'm going to try to keep track of my expenses and see how it turns out.

  3. I could not agree more! I wish I could raise some meat birds.

  4. I admire people that can raise their own food. What method do you use to slaughter a rooster? There seems to be so many opinions.

    1. We cut their throats with a sharp blade and then poke the blade through the roof of their mouth into the brain. The second part makes sure they are brain dead so they don't suffer. It is fast and sure.


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