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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Butcher Day

Today is butcher day. It is a day of mixed emotions – joy & sadness, stress & excitement, apprehension & relief. We have an appointment at 7:30 am at the Mennonite farm which is a half hour drive away. So we all get up at 6:00 am. The boys and I put the chickens in the back of the pickup with LeAnn on camera. My son Matthew has edited the video below. It is light hearted with Frank Sinatra singing “Killing Me Softly” in the background. I hope no one takes offence.

I drive the chickens to the farm and back up to the loading dock of the slaughter facility. I hand the chickens to a young man. He puts them into the killing cones head first and cuts the artery in the throat with one slice of a very sharp knife. As their muscles spasm against the confinement of the cones, their heart pulses increase and they quickly bleed out. It is painless and humane. Anyone who is fastidious about this ought to think about how many times you have seen Jack Bauer slit a throat or worse – torture someone. To what end? Entertainment. We need to keep things in perspective.

The chickens go into the scalder of 140 degree water. A basket rotates the chickens in and out of the water to loosen the feathers. Then the chickens go into the feather picker. This is really quite funny as you can see in the video. As they whirl around, you would think that it would tear them apart, but it is really gentile. It doesn’t tear the skin much less damage the muscle. The chickens go into shackles for evisceration. The young man handles the killing cones, the scalder, and the picker while three Mennonite women eviscerate the chickens. After evisceration, the chickens go into ice water. They are then bagged and go into coolers in my pickup and I take them home to the freezer.

There is a feeling of satisfaction to open the door of the freezer and see the stacked chickens, a year of Sunday dinners.


In the quiet of dusk I walk by the empty pasture coup and my heart sinks because my chickens are all gone. But I thank Heavenly Father that they gave their lives so my family can eat this coming year.

12 comments:

TheMartianChick said...

You've got really great chicken wranglers! How much did those birds weigh? The cooked one on the table looks like a small turkey!!

mike said...

Great video dale. It's good for us to know where our food comes from. I know that the next time I eat a pre-cut chicken breast I will give thanks to the chicken that died so I could eat.

Dale said...

We harvested these chickens a week and a half earlier than last year so they weighed less on average - 7 pounds. They are straight run (males and females) so the the weights are quite varible. We had a couple males that weighed close to 9 pounds.

Little Ant said...

Thanks so much for the great video tutorial. I keep hens for eggs but want to branch out to some meat birds when I'm able to move from the city. I do hope I can find a butchering place to do the dirty deed though I will do it if need be. Also curious if the added cost of having an outside butcher still makes raising your own cost effective.

Dale said...

Raising your own boilers is not economical, even if you butcher them yourself. I will do an article to show the economics. We raise broilers because we want to produce our own food.

Becca's Dirt said...

That is a lot of chickens in your freezer. I am going to raise some hens and maybe later add some roosters and maybe some meat birds. Becca

Dale said...

Becca,

It is interesting to grow layers and broilers. But are you sure that you and your neighbors want the noise of roosters? They can get pretty aggresive too. I never want another rooster on my property.

Rach said...

Hi, I am Rachel from Hawaii and I love reading your blog. I have a garden and I enjoy it and enjoy your posts. But I am very interested in the economics of broilers. And the cost of sending them to the butcher vs. doing the deed yourself. Please post on that. THAnks for letting me look in.

Mahalo,
Rachel B

Dale said...

It cost us $1.95 each to have them buthered (whole chicken in plastic bag with heart, liver, and gizzard put inside.)I will do an article in a few days on the economics.

Alice said...

I just found this post. This is our first year with meat birds. We have 30 that we're planning on either canning or putting in the freezer. Probably some of both.

This makes me wish we had someone who we could pay to do it. :)

Theophanie said...

I used to do this on a local farm. Isn't it amazing how it's just not as bad as you would think?

Anonymous said...

This video made me a little depressed, but I relish in the fact that the bird were treated humanly. That's always good. Still feel sorry the bird, I'm a vegan so animals are my soft spot, bu good job, I wish more farmers today did the same as you.