How meat birds have changed you

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by saltykins, Nov 1, 2011.

  1. saltykins

    saltykins Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 1, 2011
    For one of my classes I am writing a paper on "backyard" meat birds. I am hoping that BYC might be able to lend me some insight on how raising and processing chickens has affected you personally. General experiences. For example, when did you process your first bird? Was there someone to help you? How long have you been doing it? Did/do you feel, emotionally, physically, financially or otherwise that it was/is a good investment? In particular, if you helped process chickens when you were a child, how do you think the experience shaped the person you are today (if it did)? If you have children, does raising meat birds give them a healthier appreciation for the sacrifice of life? Responsibility? Do you trust your chicken over the grocery's chicken?

    Answers don't have to be limited to the above questions. I'd love to read whatever opinions on the subject you have to share. I actually found a post made about a year back with a similar goal, but I'm focusing more on how processing has affected you/family members.

    Thank you!
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2011
  2. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    About 8 years ago I started keeping chickens for eggs, with a few roosters to make a more balanced flock. Then I had hens who would go broody, and thus got more roosters than I needed. After another few years of having to sell off these roos, I decided that I should learn to process them myself.

    It certainly was a departure for someone raised in a modern urban culture, to come to terms with deliberately ending the life of an animal I wasn't threatened or disgusted by, or frightened of, an animal I knew from its beginning and had raised with care. But it's left me feeling empowered, knowing that I had mastered this essential human survival skill.

    It's also made me more grateful for the food on my plate, whether or not I've processed or grown it myself. It's helped me be more aware of not only the animal whose life was ended to nourish me, but also appreciative of all the human effort that went into raising, processing/harvesting, and preparing it for my consumption.
  3. Recon

    Recon Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 12, 2008
    Quote:I started raising meat birds about 5 years ago after my wife repeatedly brought chicken home from the grocery store that just didn't seem like it could possibly have grown naturally. The meat was massive and the bones were pencil thin. I was completely alone in the process. Friends mocked me. Since then I have raised probably near a thousand birds in my barn, nobody mocks me because they all want my chicken, and I have taught at least 8 others how to do it.

    Financially, it probably isn't the least expensive meat. But I feel way better about what my family is eating. The first time I did it, I raised 25 birds and I was shocked when that amounted to more than 150 pounds of processed meat in the freezer.... I think it costs me about $1.30 per pound by the time all the work is done.

    I have a freezer full of meat and none of it came from a grocery store.

    I have a theory, which spins directly from my chicken raising experience, that being removed from our food...or... being removed from the processes that nourish human bodies, has allowed people in today's society to fall away from God. We tend to see the grocery store as our provider. The first time I said a prayer over a table full of food that came from our own property, was raised and processed by my own hands, that prayer had an ENTIRELY different meaning. It was very humbling.
  4. eds500

    eds500 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2010
    Raleigh, NC
    Quote:Well said and I agree.
  5. jessicayarno

    jessicayarno Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 6, 2011
    Pacific Northwest
    Recon you couldn't have said it better.. I sat here last night and showed my youngest (11) video after video of factory farming meat and egg chickens.. She said "mamma you should save all of those birds" and also said "mamma you should sue them for doing that to those poor chickens". I looked at her with tears in my eyes and said "this is perfectly legal honey and this is why we raise our own chickens". I don't think she truly understood before, but she does now...
  6. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    Quote:For me, I killed my first birds only a couple years ago honestly. Watched my family process a couple ducks, then researched it online, then went with the rest of it my own way (for example, how I end its life, that's my own method/idea/invention) For me the only truly hard part was finding a method to kill it and know it's instantly dead. That perhaps if I use an ax I don't miss the swing, or if I bleed it, can I always make sure it's quick and painless? and etc.

    I've had home-raised poultry for about 4 years now, and most certainly trust it over store-bought chicken mainly because it's NOT the typical Cornish X/Meatie/Broiler stuff. The other reasons are of course a better diet, better life, and longer life. I don't raise the same "meaties" everyone else seems to, instead I raise very large dual purpose breeds and crosses of my own making, and kill what extra cockerels/roosters I want for food. It wasn't a hard decision because honestly past the actual killing part, I find cleaning, dressing, and simply processing the bird is a very meditative and enjoyable task. There's something neat about how it works. Plus, there's the fact that I knew this bird lived a happy, healthy, social life with other poultry in the open fresh air, with good food beyond just soy, wheat, and corn, and that this bird was hatched out and raised up on this very property. Plus, I like having meat chickens that are pretty to look at too, not just fat white things.

    Butchering, processing, and eating my own chicken has indeed changed my view on things, but, I think I've felt mostly the same even before it. Death isn't a creepy or fearsome thing to me, as long as it is dignified and quick, it's fine. The animal goes for a good cause and feeds some very thankful people and pets. (We also feed our dogs homegrown chicken) Plus, it is much nicer to be self-sufficient. I just can't stand living a life counting on someone else to grow, raise, cook, and package my food. I'm always finding ways to do it myself, even if the food-source is hard to get in our climate.

    So for me it is actually an enjoyable thing to do. From the moment the eggs hatch, I do indeed get generally attached to the birds, but in a way that I enjoy them, give them a quality life, spend time with them, raise them and treat them the same as their hatch-mates who I keep for other purposes, - and still come to complete understanding and acceptance on butchering day. Through their life I always understand though as well as think about and keep track of their meat qualities. Everyone does die at some point, after all. These babies will just have a scheduled date of death. When the time comes, I'm prepared. I enjoyed having the birds around, now I'll enjoy eating them or feeding them to the dogs. The first time I served up some roasted homegrown chicken to my family was fun. None of them have had home-raised, non-Cornish X chicken before and they all loved it! Said it was much more flavorful than storebought chicken. And who woulda thought - that diet affects the taste of your meat too? [​IMG] Plus there's also the fact to consider that some breeds and their strains do indeed have better tasting or more tender meat, too. Some breeds were bred over centuries to have better qualities, whether it be taste, tenderness, growth rate, or climate tolerance. . .
  7. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    Good thread [​IMG]
  8. aidensmomma

    aidensmomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2011
    North Central Florida
    Recon, that last part almost made me cry! I feel exactly the same way, even though I've only gotten eggs from my chickens thus far and am just starting my first go at meat chickens. The other day my 3 year old little girl went to gather eggs with me, and as we were walking in yelled "fanks for da eggs chick chicks!" What an incredible thing i can teach my kids, raising our food with them. This is a GREAT makes me feel completely sure of what I'm about to embark on!
  9. jdw

    jdw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 8, 2011
    My experience is much the same as most here. I'm raising currently 24 meaties in their 6th week. This is my first with meaties.we have six laying hens. I've chosen to raise cornish crosses this time around. I have a connection to these birds. I've cared for them from the day they came in the mail. We like to be self sufficient in this ever growing un self suffecient world we live in. I believe you need to know where your food comes well as everything else in life. raising these birds has given me even more respect for life and its value. processing i will not have a problem with as i've been around it all my life.I think everyone should have this same experience.So many people regard food as a commodity only. Food with feet were at one time were living animals,not Mcnuggets.I think people would gain more respect for all life if they had a closer connection to their food.raising animals that we gain food from like eggs, milk or meat makes you think more before being wasteful.Knowing exactly what it takes to get it to your plate.i know my food is given the best care possible.
  10. Avalon1984

    Avalon1984 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 22, 2010
    I have had chickens forever but had to take a break when I moved to the USA. Once I found me a great husband with lots of land I started again and began incubating. I had so much fun but ended up with all these extra roos. I believe in sustainable farming and to be as close to nature with your food as humanly possible. I was a wuss at first and gave my first extra roo away. But once I saw where he ended up I swore to myself that I would take care of a problem I created by myself. I started processing birds in April of this year and have since them processed…I think about 15-20. Just did 3 last weekend. It is an incredible gratifying feeling in a way that I know where the bird came from, I know what he ate, how he lived and most importantly, how he died. I can also make sure that he didn’t die for nothing. I try to use as much as possible of the bird and whatever is left goes into the compost piles. Every once in a while I have extra roos and give them to a family in need to eat which has been a very humbling experience. This experience has changed me to feel more…enabled. It has given me power to make a decision that will ultimately make my farm bigger, bring in more income, feed more people good food and I can incubate as much as I want. Honestly. My husband has given me the headsup which is quite the relief. I actually feel more self sufficient now and closer to nature. And my customers love them. They buy them faster than I can grow and process them. It is great.

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