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How do you mentally prepare yourself for the first butcher?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Anna_MN, Apr 16, 2012.

  1. Anna_MN

    Anna_MN Chirping

    Dec 4, 2011
    Princeton, MN
    Friday, April 20th is the day that I butcher chickens for the first time. I have done plenty of necropsy's on egg layers that have died but I don't know how I will be when it comes to taking their life. Don't get me wrong, I'm not attached to these birds at all because they stink to high heaven and are pushy, noisy, and barely able to walk anymore. I have recruited my whole family in the process to make it go faster. I think I have talked my bear-grizzly brother into slicing the throats, dad for operating the plucker, me for gutting, and mom from packaging. My brother has been doing a lot of research on how to slit the throat properly, so that puts my mind at more ease. My biggest question is- how do you feel while setting up the equipment and bringing that first bird over to the station to be butchered? Do you do anything to calm yourself? Does it get easier with time? I'm getting a little nervous over here....[​IMG]

  2. nickie

    nickie Songster

    Jun 25, 2011
    north central KY
    I have heard many times that it does get easier. I have processed only one time with one rooster who decided one day all humans must die. I didn't find it too hard deciding to butcher him (he came after me, jumped and hit my chest. The only thing playing in my head was what if that was one of my kids faces? I looked him in the face and said "you're dead Monday, I'm sorry."). I found the knowing I was going to take a life to be difficult. I lost sleep over it for 2 days.

    I'm sure doing a bunch at one time will get easier as the day goes in.
  3. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    I did my first 28 Cornish X last November. I did a TON of research on how to do it properly, and cause the least amount of pain possible.

    One suggestion, choose a smaller bird for the first try. There are always complications with the first one. In our case, we over-scalded and started to cook the bird, and then broke the intestines inside. However, by the fourth bird I was a pro and was able to fully slaughter, butcher, and bag a bird in less than 15 minutes. The first guy is always the hardest, but once you get into the groove, you really don't notice it.

    For example, I'm an art major and one of our requirements was to paint a nude model. The first couple minutes she was posing, people were laughing or so nervous they dropped charcoal. However, after a few minutes you no longer see them as a person, but an object to study. It got much easier after that. The same goes for the birds. The first couple you feel bad for doing it, but once you get into a groove, you almost stop seeing them as live birds, and more of an assembly line type production. For us, it was 6 hours of repetitive motion, and you almost displace yourself from the situation because it gets so boring and you're so tired and sore.

    This is just my opinion though. I always feel bad for animals, and cried when we killed the first bird. By the third or fourth, I felt bad, but I was okay with it. By the 20th, I was just wondering when it would be over and I could sit down.
  4. Glenmar

    Glenmar Songster

    Jan 17, 2011
    Think about how good they will smell roasting in the oven with rosemary and potatoes.


    helped me.
  5. EweSheep

    EweSheep Flock Mistress

    Jan 12, 2007
    Land of Lincoln
    Yep and I was an art major too, and have done nude drawings too! We were too polite to laugh but most of the girls blush hotly and after a bit of time, its is all natural. AND it was my first time ever seen a guy nude IN the flesh. You would get used to it after the first time, second time of class session. After that, its all natural. Yep like butchering birds, once you get thru the first three birds, it would be not noticeable after that.

    20 birds, I never had to do that many in one day!

    How many birds would I need to feed a family for one year, two of us (hubby is vegetarian)? I love breast meats, not fond of brown meats (good for pot pies!)

  6. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Songster

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    I really have no idea. We had 28 between 3 families, we kept 15, and the other split the rest. We have only gone through 3 whole birds, and two breasts for a family of 4. My mom does not seem to want to cook the birds, even though they have been in the freezer for 5 months. She will go out and buy chicken and say she "forgot" about the 10 boneless ones in the basement. I've started sneaking them up to the kitchen refrigerator to make her cook them before they go bad.
  7. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Since you won't be the one to actually take their lives, it won't be that hard on you. But yes, you do feel awful about the first ones. I only do a very few at a time, and haven't butchered dozens and dozens so it never gets to the point that it's an assembly line for me. Course I do it all by myself and I just won't do many at a time. I guess I'm too lazy.

    I cried after the first few, and still do depending on what I've just taken the life of. Cornish cross are the easiest because that's what they were hatched for from the beginning. Odd as this sounds, it's easiest on *me* if I hold them, pet them, calm them, and thank them before gently putting them in the cone and waiting for them to settle down again before slitting the throat. I feel better about it after than if I just plop them in there and away we go.

    Course I feel better about that because I think I made the chickens passing easier. Maybe not I don't know but then at least I know I did all I could to make it so.

  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    I started helping process chickens when I was 10, so I don't really remember how I felt back then but I can tell you how I mentally prepare now.

    I make sure my equipment is ready, my knives are razor sharp, my birds are collected calmly the night before and are waiting in a cool and dark place and that there is no struggle or anxiety on butchering day. As I run through all these preparations in my mind I feel good about doing this thing quickly, calmly and with the least hullabaloo for the bird.

    As I take the first bird and all the subsequent birds to the killing cones, I mentally review all the steps I've taken to give them a great life and how I am doing the best to give them a clean and quick death. I also feel good about providing this healthy meat for my family and I run mental pictures of the full freezer and jars that will follow this and how good it will feel to have it done and stored for use.

    I concentrate on the good that comes of what I am doing rather than the bad feeling of taking a creature's life. I picture the good things like the chicken's free life on the green grass, the good meals my family will have, the feeling of providing for them in my own backyard...all these good things are better than picturing the blood, gore and nasty work of butchering.

    Sort of like when I get a needle stuck in my vein...I've been butchered by so many phlebotomists and nurses in that regard that I know it will hurt like the dickens and I have to concentrate on something lovely so I won't flinch when they dig around for the vein. I think of the white, fine sands of the Caribbean, the beautiful water and the fragrant, warm breezes and I picture myself entering those waters with the water droplets on my skin glistening in the sun...and soon it is over and my arm will have a huge bruise the next day.
  9. Eznet2u

    Eznet2u Chirping

    Jul 22, 2011
  10. ScottnLydia

    ScottnLydia Songster

    Jul 16, 2011
    Preperation is the key! Mentally reviewing each step until it is second nature. When the time comes, surprises will come up but you can take them in stride.

    With regards to the mental preperation for taking a life, well, not many of us are natural born killers. I, personally, have found that my peace of mind is preserved by treating each animal I harvest with dignity and respect. This includes talking to them, thanking them for their sacrifice to feed me and my family, snd stating that what I am about to do does not come from anger or malice. It is something I heard African Bushman telling their prey on a hunt and I found it made me feel less 'coldhearted' about taking lives. We raise and harvest chickens, turkeys and sheep ourselves all with caring,compassion and respect.

    Friends have asked me, "How can you do that when you've raised them from babies?" All I can say is this is the reason for which they were born and I wouldn't trust anyone else to do it with as much respect as I would. Curiously, when the time comes, each one seems resigned to their fate and goes quietly, with a minimum of fuss! I don't know what to attribute that to, but boy, am I thankfull!

    Good luck,


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