Monday, October 18, 2010

Chicken Slaughtering Day

I know these photos will invoke a bit of squeamishness for some, but I just had to post them to show people the nature of at-home chicken processing.

About 10 weeks ago, we received a batch of Cornish Rock cross chicks (broilers) to raise for our year's worth of chicken. We penned them in our previous corn patch and fed them every day, despite the fact they liked to escape and dine on grass, the pig's corn, and other farmyard delights. A friend and co-worker of my husband's also raised broilers--Freedom Rangers--at the same time, so for the second year in a row, we all got together and did the processing at our farm. Wives, co-workers, neighbors and friends all took part in various stages, each person using their particular expertise to speed up the process. 

With the help of modern equipment like killing cones (the most humane way to kill), a Featherman scalder and plucking machine, and traditional equipment like knives, plastic-covered tables, ice chests and a screened tent to aid in fly control, we all worked together to get it done. We processed and bagged 40 chickens in about 3 hours, including set up and clean up. Afterward, we ate a delightful lunch of quiche, salad and fresh-baked bread under the barn eaves and then our friends hurried home to get their chickens into the freezer. 

For me, processing our chickens at home is an experience that brings me closer to God. We have raised these birds with the intention of them becoming our meat for the winter. We have been blessed with the ability to raise our own food, knowing its origins, and we have taken responsibility for its humane slaughter and clean processing. We are surrounded by friends who are doing the same, with reverance for every step of the process. It's a beautiful thing to be in touch with God, nature, and our ancestors, all in one afternoon.   

saying a prayer



cooling down

ready for the freezer


  1. This post is brave and wonderful. It brings back childhood memories of "chicken day" but my family never took on so many in one day. My blind great aunt did the plucking because she could feel the feathers so didn't have to see to help.

    Those chickens led happy lives - full of chicken-ness - and were appreciated in a way that store-bought could never be.

    Thanks for the look back, and forward.

  2. Karen, good job! I haven't done it yet, but it's coming next year, right now, laying hens are enough, but birds for meat will be a adventure! Enjoy that wholesome, happily raised chicken! mmm!