First Cull! (No pics)

Madamegato

Songster
9 Years
Aug 30, 2011
34
19
104
ABQ, NM
Hello all!

TLDR: I butchered two of my layers tonight who were tormenting my younger girls. They were killed cleanly and easily and are now resting in fridge camp for a couple days before they move to freezer camp and then a stew pot. My first slaughter!

The long version!

We started keeping layers in 2011 and we were vegetarians. We told our original four girls they had a forever home. Sweet. Out of the original four, we have one remaining. She's the top bird and the steward of the flock and will totally carry on a conversation with you if you talk to her. We slowly added more every couple of years, always expecting our chicks to die, none ever did. Our survival rate is outstanding! LOL. Anyway, some grew old and died, a couple were put down due to illness, but we ended up with eight after purchasing three in 2019.

Our two black Australorps were devilish to our youngest three. No idea why, either. We figured it was them deciding pecking order and let them to it - but these ladies were OBSESSED. I've never really felt like a chicken could hold a grudge, but the one time one of the younger ones got some bugs I had tilled up, Darkheart (apropros), spent the next five minutes solid growling at her and chasing. Poor Marissa (RIR) was patchy all the time. At night, squabbles about bedtime left the younger three sometimes outside the coop until it had gotten dark enough for them to enter and not deal with the Australorps. (EDIT: Should make note here, they are free range and our coop is always open, so they aren't locked in and can enter when they wish and leave the same way.) We'd noticed that our egg production was in the toilet. One of the youngest started laying, but rather than bother the Australorps (who often drove them from the nest boxes), she just laid in the bottom of the coop. It had taken me a little too long to realize what needed to be done.

This past February (2020) I started eating meat again after 9-years vegetarian. My husband followed suit. We are keto, so we use it all - bones, fat... the animals we consume are definitely honored. Well... upon understanding that for the welfare of the flock I needed to dispatch a couple of ladies, and given I knew they'd not be going to waste... I spent an entire night watching butchery videos, and even reading the butchery post here in the Learning Center! (Thanks Booker81!) I went out the night before once they were all in bed and easily scooped the two troublemakers out of the coop. No fuss, no stress. Put them in a cage so they were ready to go. This afternoon, there wasn't really much to it - good sharp knife, swift and certain slice to the jugular, they were out like lights without a peep and without suffering. Still... I felt bad. This was the first time I was taking an animal's life that wasn't sick or elderly, with the express purpose of helping my flock, and eating the results. Maybe bad is not quite it... I was anxious and stressed and a little sick to my stomach feeling like I'd done something wrong. I kept my calm, though, knowing the last thing I wanted to do was have the birds sense any of that, OR make them stressed, OR have a bad kill. I did my job. Well. (In a milk jug kill cone, no less. Cheap!)

It was as I was plucking the second bird that I noticed something... the coop was absolutely quiet. Those younger girls had finally gotten to go in the coop at the right time, settle in, and sleep without bullies picking with them. The right decision was reached. And holy smokes... the golden fat in the rendered girls... BEAUTIFUL! We've saved the necks, the feet, liver, hearts... they'll all be added to the stock pot. The plan is to Instant Pot the girls and shred them down for soup, then we'll stock their remains along with the other parts I saved to make a killer broth that is full of fat and goodness. It took me about an hour a bird - plucked by hand after scalding.

At any rate - to anyone who is just starting out on this, is maybe only processing one or two birds - if you didn't feel a twinge of guilt/sorrow you wouldn't be human. But at the end of the day... if you do it right... those birds don't suffer a bit. It's so fast. Then, you're left holding food. Once you get those feathers off... it's basically like you went to the grocery store. Get ready for the warm insides - that's a little unsettling - but all the more reason for taking a moment to realize this bird gave its life to nourish you. Now, I give them a nod of thanks and admire my self-sufficiency and courage. Maybe that sounds hooky, but I learned a lot about myself tonight. All of it really good.
 

Madamegato

Songster
9 Years
Aug 30, 2011
34
19
104
ABQ, NM
Indeed. It's a solemn thing.

But I agree 100% -- once you've got them undressed it's just like having a grocery store bird, except for having the feet for the stock pot.

Right? I can't wait to see how the stock comes out. I make a pretty good stock regardless, but have never put feet in. I am giddy thinking about the extra collagen. :D
 

Castlemaid

Songster
Mar 26, 2019
58
126
106
Northern BC
Good for you! I was just a couple of days ago in the same boat. I've only had chickens for a couple of years or so, but never in my life have I butchered anything.

My feelings and experience was almost exactly the same as your experience. Dispatched a rude aggressive rooster after watching some videos to learn how to process a bird for the table. I thought the plucking would be difficult and time-consuming, but it was surprisingly fast and easy. Took me about an hour also from start to fridge. Still feels a bit weird, but I'm proud of myself and gained a bit of self-confidence for taking on and carrying through with the challenge.
 

Madamegato

Songster
9 Years
Aug 30, 2011
34
19
104
ABQ, NM
Good for you! I was just a couple of days ago in the same boat. I've only had chickens for a couple of years or so, but never in my life have I butchered anything.

My feelings and experience was almost exactly the same as your experience. Dispatched a rude aggressive rooster after watching some videos to learn how to process a bird for the table. I thought the plucking would be difficult and time-consuming, but it was surprisingly fast and easy. Took me about an hour also from start to fridge. Still feels a bit weird, but I'm proud of myself and gained a bit of self-confidence for taking on and carrying through with the challenge.

It's definitely a weird feeling to sit with, but 100% feel you! Congrats to you on completing your mission, too! A nasty roo sounds like a perfect candidate for eating. Absolutely for sure you did the right thing on that one. Ha ha, when I first joined this forum, I remember not knowing what "freezer camp" was. >:D So many people do the same thing!
 

impr3

Chirping
Sep 26, 2020
67
145
73
Lake County, CA
We've saved the necks, the feet, liver, hearts... they'll all be added to the stock pot.

Careful about the livers as the general recommendation is not to include them in stock as it will taste funky. Turns out I disagree with that recommendation, but it sure gave me a scare while making stock yesterday.

I just slaughtered my first two roos and made stock from them including livers. It smelled absolutely awful when the stock pot got to pressure. As in, my whole house smelled like poop all night (and I'm completely certain the intestines had come out intact). While it was cooking I googled liver in stock and found a lot of posts cautioning against it. I thought I'd really messed up and wasted the gift of our two roos which made me feel terrible. I was pretty anxious after the pressure released and it was time to taste it. Long story short, it's the best chicken stock I've ever had. The smell is also all better, must have cooked off in those initial few minutes. That said, if you do your stock in an open pot instead of a pressure cooker, your results may be closer to the dire warnings that I was reading online.
 

MotherofOrpies

Chirping
Dec 31, 2020
62
187
76
Congrats on getting your first own chickens in the freezer, here, we usually say the roosters “moved to Siberia”, and some people were wondering, what Siberia would want with all those roosters :lau I still don’t enjoy the killing part, and never will, but after they are cleaned and plucked, I look forward to delicious chicken, and I also use almost everything ( yes, even the feet, after “peeling” them ) and the stock is so delicious!
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,503
26,836
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Careful about the livers as the general recommendation is not to include them in stock as it will taste funky. Turns out I disagree with that recommendation, but it sure gave me a scare while making stock yesterday.

I have always tossed the liver into the stock pot along with all the other giblets since none of us likes to eat them.

I wouldn't make a batch of nothing but liver broth, but it gives the stock a richer flavor. One of the points of making stock is to use the parts you don't normally eat.

And then, after I strain it out, all the cooked parts and mushy vegetables go to the chickens.
 

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