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raising fowl for meat purposes

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

We are in the beginnings of homesteading.  I would really like to raise fowl for meat but can't get over killing my birds.  Yes, I buy and eat meat from the grocery store.  I would like to be eating what I raise due to the many benefits.  Do any of you have any suggestions?  I tend to have too much emotion over this issue, but want to be more practical.  Help?

post #2 of 5
I am planning on raising meat birds this year too. Just a few to get my feet wet. The way I see it, I eat meat so I'm already killing birds just in a second-hand way. I think I may decide to take them to be processed this first time or have someone experienced help. Ultimately, I want to do it myself though. I figure that once I have the skill I'll be able to offer them a much more compassionate death than any chicken would get at a factory and that thought gives me comfort and strength.
post #3 of 5
I grew up on a farm where we raised our own chickens. As a pre-teen Mom would tell me to get a chicken for supper so I’d deliver a plucked and gutted chicken to her. I also grew up cleaning fish, rabbits, and squirrels that I caught or shot myself. I have no problem with the process but I don’t enjoy the killing part. It’s necessary for the end product so I do it.

There are all kinds of different ways to kill a chicken to prepare it for the table or freezer. People will often nitpick on here about which way is the best but the simple fact is that they all work and deliver a nice product. To me the important thing is that you get a clean kill. It needs to be a way that you can do without flinching or closing your eyes. You don’t need to risk injury to yourself or not getting a clean kill so the chicken suffers. That means there are ways that are better for some people than others. I don’t know which way would be best for you.

While you can eat any chicken of any sex or age, you have to adjust your cooking methods to account for age. Very young chickens are good for frying and grilling but as they age you need to switch to slower and moister cooking methods. That can affect which chickens you raise. The various broilers grow fast and are more suitable to be butchered at a young age. That’s probably what you want to raise for grilling and frying. While occasionally you’ll find a thread on here where someone was successful breeding some of these, especially the rangers, most people that try it are not successful. You normally have to buy new chicks instead of hatching them yourself from your flock. They all reach butcher age at a certain time so you need a large freezer and the butchering has to take place in a fairly tight window.

The other meat chickens are the dual purpose, what small farmers have been raising forever for meat and eggs. They grow a lot slower so they are more suitable for baking, stews, or things like that where they cook slower and moister. You don’t have to butcher them at a certain age but can leave some of them fresh on the claw so to speak until you get freezer space or time to process them. You can keep some hens and a rooster and have fresh eggs as well as hatching your own chicks.

There are advantages or disadvantages to both of these. Since you mentioned homesteading you might gravitate to the latter, the dual purpose. But I suggest you start off with the meaties, probably called Cornish Cross, Cornish X, or just broilers. If you feed them according to standard methods they should be butcher size by 6 to 8 weeks. If you keep them longer than that they start to die from heart failure or their bodies break down. They generally just grow too fast to live a lot longer unless you restrict their diet. That doesn’t give you a lot of time to get attached to them plus it forces your hand to get it done if you start to see some of them die. Raise a few dual purpose on the side and get attached to them if you wish.

I don’t know where you are located, in the US or somewhere else. Putting that kind of information in your profile can help with some questions. Wherever it is, find your state or country thread in “Where am I? Where are you!” section of this forum and chat with your neighbors. Maybe they can tell you some place to take your chickens to be processed or even better, someone that will come out to your place and do it there. Or maybe one of your neighbors will let you come help process their chickens or come help you so you can see what is involved and decide if you can do it yourself.

If you have never done something like this just the thought can be intimidating. Most people that go through with it find out that the actual process really isn’t that bad. Not knowing and dreading it is much worse.

We are all unique and have to find our own path. Some people just can’t handle processing chickens that they raise themselves. Don’t let anybody guilt you or beat up on you if you fall in that group. But give it a try. You might find out it’s just not that bad after all.

Good luck!

 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

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 I grow a little impatient when people seem to think that they are unique in the world. Of course they are. Just like everyone else.

 

"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-much-room-do-chickens-need

Reply
post #4 of 5

Have you looked through this thread?

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/768107/processing-day-support-group-help-us-through-the-emotions-please

 

lots of folks started off exactly where you are now and are now processing their own birds. 

Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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Rachel BB

Stem cell transplant from unrelated donor in Feb 2015. Thank you to all my friends here on BYC for all your support during my treatment and ongoing recovery!

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post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you everyone for the extremely helpful information.  I will try and update my personal information too.  

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