I need to cull, and I am freaking out a little

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by brandislee, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You may or may not have noticed all my posts here lately. If not, in summary, I am NOT having a good time at ALL with this last batch of Cornish X.

    Now I have one in the younger batch on her way out (no idea what's wrong, but I've done what I can- she kind of acts like they did before with the Niacin deficiency, but different, and just doesn't seem to be recovering), and I have one in the older (5 week old) batch with a purple comb. And that latter one has me SOOOO frustrated. I limit their food, rationing it from about 2 weeks ala the chart from Welp. I've NEVER had a broiler flip before. And of course it happens now, when I'm at my whits end with these $)%($* chickens.

    And I don't normally process my own chickens- I take them to a pro. I'm okay with that. I did one from my last batch just because it was something I felt I should be able to do. I wanted to actually do the whole batch (only 10 that time) but the first one was so traumatic for both me and the chicken that I didn't want to repeat it. I botched the kill horribly, the chicken fell and dislocated a wing before I finally grabbed it, had my poor 4 year old daughter hold the feet, and slit the throat. Night. Mare.

    I don't get attached to my animals (not the meaties, anyway). It's not THAT kind of emotion that gets me. I'm normally a very practical person. The last time I was so prepared- I had my table for gutting, my scalder just right, a wheel barrow full of wood shavings to catch the blood, a trash can for the feathers and guts, a good sharp knife. But when the moment comes I have a mini panic attack. I get light headed and shaky. I know with the last one I hesitated and didn't cut far enough the first (or second) time due to my freaked out shaky-ness.

    I don't really know what I'm asking- Separation from the chickens isn't my issue. I have no attachments at all to these broilers. And it's not like it's an ethical issue for me. I of course want the kill to be as humane as possible, but I know that this chicken has had a better life and death than any factory chicken. It's a very primal, nearly uncontrollable reaction that I have, and I don't know how to get past it.
     
  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

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    I have better luck with kill cones. It just doesn't seem as traumatic for either me or the chicken that way. But even if you continue to do it the way you have been, it'll get better as you do it more and more. I promise!
     
  3. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It can be tough, but it does get easier once you get past the first couple. Maybe a simple killing method like large garden clippers or an axe would be easier for you. Also a killing cone can make things go much smoother with the chicken well restrained.

    Too, with these darn broilers, sometimes I just think we need to accept some losses along the way and not stress over it, it can have nothing at all to do with the conditions or feeding. With the genetics they have that maximizes production the resilience suffers.

    IMHO the 12/12 feeding is likely over complicated, having feed availible 24/7 and natural light controls the feed quite fine. I am seeing a little slower growth though with my fall batch that has fewer hours of light than the spring/summer batch.
     
  4. cuntryuppiechick

    cuntryuppiechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I cut down an old gallon jug for a cone and use the garden sheers, bind their feet with twine and put a sock over their head so they are relaxed. This method is not stressful for the birds as long as your sheers are good. Pull the feathers back so they don't stop the blade. I use the extra length of twine to hang them while I walk out and grab the next one. By the time I am back any remaining flopping around has ended if there is any at all. Using the sheers seems to eliminate much of that.
     
  5. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't take away their food, because as you said the light keeps them from eating at night. BUT I do limit the amount I give them according to the chart I listed. I feel it saves food waste and keeps them from having health issues. It's also helpful because it helps me plan out how much food I'm going to need for a given period of time. But I don't weigh it exactly- I just know that my scoop holds 1.15-1.25 lbs and measure accordingly, and at the beginning I figure up how much they'll get each day based on the number of chickens and divide that by two, then mark the amount in my planner each week. That way I just have to check my planner for how much to give them each morning and night (that's why it's divided by two- I give them half at night and half in the morning). Besides the initial math, it's pretty simple. And if I were to free feed I would freak out EVEN MORE (believe it or not!) every time I lost one, thinking it was my fault. This way I at least feel I'm doing what I can to keep them healthy.
     
  6. brandislee

    brandislee Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:If I do it (instead of chickening out and talking my DH into doing it...) this will be the way. I have a pair of those curved large limb trimmers that are relatively new, but I've used them on limbs a few times- will they do okay? I know they were super sharp the last time I used them and they sliced through the limbs like butter, and with the curved and straight blades I at least know the neck wouldn't slip out. It's hard to know what will work well until you try it, unfortunately. My mother in law keeps telling me to do the axe/nail/stump method, but with no help other than my 2 and 5 year olds (who will likely be far far away this time around after the last time) I have no help so I really don't see that going very well.
     
  7. Clay Valley Farmer

    Clay Valley Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have no help so I really don't see that going very well.

    If you go into just about anything with the idea it won't go well it likely won't.

    Both the axe and sheers are pretty fool proof as long as the chicken is held in place. With an axe or sheers there is no question about where to cut or how deep so it takes some of the variables out.

    As for feed, if the charts are working for you good, but it is worth considdering IMHO they are only charts based on average hatches and ideal conditions. weather, light, latitude, your specific feed formula, temperature, the genetics of the batch and a host of other factors will influence how much individual birds will eat. That said the fancy math and charts are pretty much lost on a flock of meaties with an empty feeder.

    Reducing feed may prevent some flips, but on the other hand it will take longer to get the chickens to harvest weight or reduce the overall harvest weight over a given growing period. Getting 7lb dressed chickens in 8 weeks with free choice feeding and suffering a couple flipps can be better than it taking 10 weeks and having chickens injuring them selves fighting for feed or getting a couple extra 6lb chickens in the same 8 weeks with controlled feeding. I guess scale is a factor too, if you are raising just a few then the flips are a bigger deal.​
     
  8. Lesa

    Lesa Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good for you, for thinking about trying again! Nothing easy about it (especially the first few times). Agree with everyone about the kill cone. I wouldn't dream of using another method. The only thing sticking out of the cone, is the head and neck. Those branch trimmers should work perfectly. If you feel a little freaked out, use the trimmers and walk away while the chicken bleeds out. It is not necessary to stand there and get nervous... I personally don't care for seeing their eyes blink- so I walk away. Good luck!
     
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    If you're not accustomed to it, then it can be an unsettling experience to dispatch a chicken by yourself. It's quite a departure for most of us, to calmly go up to an animal, one you're not threatened by, frightened of, or disgusted by, one you don't despise, and deliberately end its life. I congratulate you for giving it your best tries, and for trying again. I have changed & improved my procedures a lot since I began processing my own chickens, tried many different tools & techniques until I found the way that works best for me. I no longer get nervous about the actual killing part, and now simply focus on bestowing the final kindness I can give to them, to make their end as quick & gentle as possible.
     
  10. cuntryuppiechick

    cuntryuppiechick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I went out prepared to use a sock for each bird for my own sensitivities to having to look them in the eye but I did not feel I needed to after getting started. I think those trimmers sound like they would work. The nail holding method may help or I just laid them on their side on the edge of the deck. It helped to have leverage to make sure you got a clean cut. Key to not traumatizing myself was to quickly hang them after decapitation. It may make you feel more at ease if you say a prayer or give thanks in whatever belief system you hold. As I walk them to the work area I pet them, tell them how much the flock has enjoyed them being part of the group and we thank them for the food they are about to give. I also express that I hope I was a good keeper and apologize for any failings.
     

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