I had to debate with myself over this and accepted it.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Jody, Nov 26, 2009.

  1. Jody

    Jody Songster

    Nov 8, 2009
    Epping, NH
    I got my chickens pretty much to be pets and for just eggs, but fact of the matter is, we as a family eat chicken.

    My 3 chickens are older adults. My guess, perhaps 2yrs old. They appear to me to be healthy, but keep in mind that I'm a newbie to owning chickens.

    When I first got them, I had it in my head that when they died I could process them and eat them, but then I thought about that for a moment and decided no.. too old and not gonna eat a dead bird.. it's gotta be fresh killed..

    Then, after a few days getting to know my chickens, I decided, no.. I can not eat a family pet unless we we're starving..

    Then yesterday I watched Food Inc and was absolutely disgusted with how the food industry grows and processes the chicken we eat.

    As I understand it, an older chicken can be used as a stew chicken and would have to be slow boiled in soup with the result being a more chickeny flavor and needs to cook long to be tender meat. Is this correct?

    Reason I ask this, is because I'm contemplating the idea of acquiring another small flock and culling these chickens as food. The new flock will be pullets and used as layers for a period and I intend on getting roosters so I can also hatch in order to keep a constant rotation of eggs and chickens as food.

    I slaughtered and processed chickens 22yrs ago as a student at the aggie, so I'm sure I can relearn this or become accustomed to it.

    I no longer desire to eat food containing hormones, chemicals, GMO, etc and rather have a wholesome home raised chicken to eat.

    I understand my cost would be a bit higher this way, but the return is worth it as the food will be healthier, however, how much higher can that cost be if I plan on hatching and keeping a cycle going so that I have a constant supply of fresh chicken, eggs, etc

    If we're eating chicken 3 times a week, I'd have to cull 156 birds a year. What size flock would I need to start with and how often do I hatch, and how many do I hatch without increasing the size of the flock?

    Sorry, I confused myself thinking about this, lol

  2. MonkeyZero

    MonkeyZero Songster

    Sep 14, 2007
    Modesto Ca
    I could never do it
    But there are people who do.
    My friends parents buy "organic meat".
    Meat not injected with hormones-etc
    Buts its more expensive from what they said
  3. TipsyDog

    TipsyDog Songster

    May 14, 2009
    Aregua, Paraguay
    I just bought that Food Inc movie. I'm waiting to watch it DH next week. Does this mean I shouldn't watch it? Am I going to go out and get more chickens? [​IMG] I'd actually like to build a barn next year and raise myself a good, clean pig.

    As far as your ideas, I say if you can process them, do it! Why not? It's a win-win situation for you, your family and the chicken gets a decent life too. Why not get some meaties to raise and put in the freezer? Less feed and much faster than just egg layers plus you won't be as attached to them as your laying girls.
  4. You will not eat that many chickens. I would however raise a small 20 to 25 meat birds and then process them for the freezer IN THE SPRING. not the summer, not the winter, not the fall.

    They are alot of work, they stink and they require one to process them without a problem.

    We did this a year or so ago, had a friend KILL them and we processed them. We did 22 (had 26, but 4 died)

    We are still using them and they got to be pretty darn big.

    I have heard of "free range" meat birds, but do not know alot about these.
  5. Jody

    Jody Songster

    Nov 8, 2009
    Epping, NH
    Quote:You absolutely should watch it, and yes, you're probably gonna get more chickens.. That movie was the influencing factor for me to consider raising my own for meat instead of as pets/layers... I just need to calculate everything, and plan it to see if it's economically possible for me to undertake it at this point in time, or if it's something that will have to wait for better economic times, but rest assured, I do want to do this.
  6. AHappychick

    AHappychick Wanna-be Farmer

    Dec 16, 2008
    I agree why not let these few favorites live and get a straight run of what ever breeds you like. Then you can save some roos and process the rest, in addition once a year (spring for sure) get meaties as day olds and raise organically. I do 25 a year and give a few away, and between that and any spare roos that I dont keep or sell we always have chicken in the deep freeze.

    get some quail as well if you want a little variety [​IMG]

    I do it all organically from day one with all my birds but my silkies whom dont get eaten and whose eggs always see the fluffy end of a butt or the bator. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009
  7. Jody

    Jody Songster

    Nov 8, 2009
    Epping, NH
    Quote:Oh.. I had it in my head that I'd kill and process on the day it would be for dinner since my freezer is a regular refrigerator one.

    As for how many would be eaten, yeah, we do eat that many. our main sources of meat in this home are chicken, pork and ground beef as they're the least expensive, although we do also eat beef, just not as often.

    Makes sense and seems less confusing the way you said.. Just cull once a year and get a new flock at same time.. I should get a big freezer anyway since I want to stock up on deer meat too.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009

  8. i had made my decision about raising my own before watching Food Inc and it cemented my resolve.

    you can kill as you go (well, you really want to let them sit in the fridge for 24 hours to let the meat relax), but most people process at a particular age because of meat tenderness. after a chicken's prime process age, you aren't really doing anything but spending money to make them chewier. if you mostly want slow roasting or stewing chickens, then this isn't much of a problem, especially if they are hens that are contributing eggs anyway.

    i ordered straight runs and will be culling spare cockerels and wimpy pullets in about 2 months. i think out of my 22 chicks, i'm going to end up processing 5 or 6 (i'm still unclear about the sex of a few of them). in the spring, i'm ordering more for my laying flock and then a whole separate batch as meaties (i'm thinking Orps, Delawares, and Faverolles since i like heritage breeds, as opposed to Cornish X). since i'll have those breeds in my laying flock anyway, i should be able to raise a decent number myself after that first go round, but i'll probably still order some each time. i want to have enough for myself, family and friends, and maybe even some to sell at the Farmer's Market. my goal is to process about 200 next year. i'll be using Joel Salatin's pastured method for the meaties (my layers and breeders are in a movable house like his Eggmobile). we're feeding organic, so costs are kinda high, but being on fresh pasture all the time really helps. hopefully, between getting $4/dz for my eggs and a decent price for meat i at least won't be in the hole when it's all said and done.

    it's a lot of work, and i worry about it a lot, but it's so satisfying. knowing where my food comes from and exactly what went into it makes a world of difference.
  9. You can also raise Guinea Fowl on your property. Find a few that are causing problems (believe me there will be a few) and process these birds as well.

    Guineas are really tasty and I have a few French and I plan on getting a few Jumbos. When I get the nerve, I am going to catch one and process it.

    A friend of mine processes a few a year. This is where I tasted my first one.


    I do not process my roosters. If I have a problem with them they go to the taxidermist and they get mounted.

    I have sold a few for profit and the people who buy them, love them.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2009
  10. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    See..how i plan on doing it is...
    I cant eat my hens i have now as pets..(my flock)
    But.... next spring i will get some birds that i KNOW ahead of time, that they will be meat birds....that way i can keep the whole process seperate in my head..
    Maybe thats weird..i dont know..but thats how i'll have to do it.. have 2 seperate flocks... a pet flock and a meat flock..

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