I have a flock of 6 hens ranging from 15 weeks-10 months old. I've been keeping chickens for about a year at this point but have turned my eyes towards the future.... Our hens are our pets as well as the producers of our breakfast. I have a soft spot for animals and am always concerned about the day I have to cull one of our hens as I consider them to be members of our family. They all have names and I love their different personalities. Well, except for one of them That said, we intend to be on a few acres in a couple of years and at that time I would like to have the skills and confidence to be able to humanely raise and butcher our own chickens for meat consumption. In my mind this serves a couple of purposes. First, it allows us to control the source of our meat to a certain extent and secondly it allows us to become efficient and respectful butchers-both for harvesting young meat birds as well as dispatching old hens that have been our pets. In a nutshell, I'm considering getting some Cornish Cross birds this summer to raise and butcher both to provide meat for my family as well as get some practice on proper techniques before we are in the unfortunate position of having to dispatch of one of our "pet" birds either due to injury/illness or lack of production. Given that we are in a very suburban area (think cul-de-sac) and limited in terms of space, etc. we are thinking about *maybe* doing 3-4 birds at the most....as a trial run to get a feel for what this looks like on a larger scale and to give us some experience in how to humanely dispatch a chicken. Did anyone else get their start like this? Any advice? Is 3-4 a reasonable number or is that a lot to process at one time (emotionally/physically/mentally) for a first timer? Lessons learned that you'd care to share? Just trying to get an idea of what we aren't considering before we make a decision.