tell me how your kids handle eating chickens that used to be pets.


10 Years
Oct 27, 2009
Carlsbad, CA
The excellent discussion on the thread below about why people slaughter and eat chickens has really gotten me thinking about the benefits of using our chickens as food when they pass laying age. I am looking for ideas on how to convince my children that this is a good idea. Right now, my kids would feel traumatized if they were served one of their pets as a meal.

check out the last page for a lengthy post about the issue.

Thanks in advance
How old are your children? I have a one year old son (who doesn't really care lol) and a 3 1/2 year old daughter. I guess since hunting is a giant part of our lives my kids will always know where their food comes from. Our daughter will sometimes ask us what we are eating and we just tell her. "this is hog, the one Daddy shot at the deer lease". Or "This is chicken just like the ones in the backyard" I don't know if she is old enough to understand all of this yet, but she at least she knows where her food is coming from. It might seem alittle harsh, but its reality. We have only used 7 of our hens for food because they stopped laying and I will say the first couple of times it was hard. But...I know their quality of life was wonderful and much better than your typical industrialized hen. Once they stop laying or slow down too much there really isn't much use for them, unless they are just really cuddly lol.
Lindsay, I don't think it is harsh at all, I wish I could start with my kids as little ones like yours. Mine are 8 and 10. They have never questioned that their food comes from the big store down the street. Any animal they meet they see simply as a cute cuddly play thing. The concept of being responsible for our own food supply is completely foreign to them. How different from the way life has been through most of human history.

I guess I'm going to start with discussions about food supply and someone else suggested that I could read/watch some of the current media about how food is raised with my children and talk about it. This will be a big shift in thinking for our family.
Sounds like this is a really positive chance for your family to learn together. When we started raising dual purpose birds my kids were grown adults and collectively, although we knew it was an important shift for us, we had to get our heads around it (it being the killing then eating what we ourselves kill piece). Our little grandaughter will soon be 2 and she has known nothing but the chickens giving us eggs or meat. My son in law has always hunted and finds it odd that I have a pet rabbit in the house. It`s all about our mindsets. If it is hard for them at first you could serve the chicken with a choice. My Mom still will not eat our chickens...crazy I know but whatever...she eats lots of veggies on roast chicken night. I bet that soon they will be willing to give it a taste and then...yummmm.
It is such an important thing for our children to learn not to take where their food comes from for granted. Kudos to you for teaching them this. I wish I had done it with my own when they were young.
I think it's harder on most people here when butchering a spent hen vs a meat bird. Is it possible for you to raise a few designated meaties, birds that are never pets? That might help transition them.
We started young with our kids too -- birth, really. So some of what we've done won't be applicable, but I do think you can still use many of the same things to acclimate your children.

One thing we never do is sugarcoat. Animals must die for us to eat meat. Our kids know what death is and have watched it many times from the time they were young. They start hunting alongside my husband and I as youngsters so in addition to the slaughter of farm animals they've also witnessed wild game going down. For some kids the first time is difficult, for others it's no big deal. But I do find with the kids that have had a difficult time with it the first time, it gets easier as they see and understand it more. You just have to get over the hump of witnessing it the first time.

At 8 and 10 your kids are old enough to be given the facts in a straight forward manner. I would sit them down, talk to them about where meat comes from, make sure they understand that death is part of that process and then go from there. Show them pictures, articles and movies that chronicle the life of factory farmed animals, help them compare and contrast with the lives of animals you yourself raise. And then bring the conversation back around to death -- it has to happen either way, so wouldn't it be better to know that the animals had a good life prior to that death? And then ask them they think your family could best make that happen. They may just surprise you with how they accept and embrace the idea.

Speaking of which, on your other thread you said with re: to the kids being enthusiastic about it "that just won't happen here" the first step, imo, before you ever bring the topic up to your kids is to get that sort of thinking out of your head. If you think it'll never happen, it'll never happen. Because the kids will sense your apprehension. Go into it enthusiastic and with an open mind and they'll be much more likely to meet you halfway with the same attitude.
My son and family, which includes 6 grandkids (his and hers) share the property I live on with the chickens, dogs, etc. One grandkid is in the Army now, youngest is 9. The two oldest got brave and ate the chicken, but the rest won't eat the yard birds. Explaining does not help. It took me a while, too; had to get past the idea of it. Two claimed they would eat them but did not when it came down to business. And they are not pets to the kids; they pay little attention to them, stop and watch sometimes, but rarely give treats or sit with them. The best solution has got to be starting very young. They're only pets to me to an extent, and I am the caregiver. I can pick up or pet only a couple of them easily, and none have names, but I do spend time with them and give treats every day. And certainly see that they live very well.

I ate yard birds as a kid all the time, even watched the processing. We didn't name them, though, and I couldn't usually tell them apart (it would be a flock of RIR, usually.) Even so, starting over years later, I had to readjust to the flavor and even the dark yolks. Took me a couple of years.

I should add I've never seen Cornish X raised, only dual purpose.
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I was not raised in the fact I often say I have never lived anyplace that was not on a 'block'....until now. Having chickens was a lifelong dream for me. This year we got our first chickens.

When we went to get them my grandaughter was with us. She immediately started naming them. From that moment I told her name them what you want but you need to still call them 'chicken' because at some point it is going to be on the table. She turned green being the softy she is. Here we are 5 months later and the freezer has several roosters in it. At first she said she did not believe she would eat chicken at my house anymore. I said ok...but that she was going to get pretty hungry because we eat a lot of chicken.

This weekend my husband came in from working out of state for the first time since we sent some to freezer camp. I have already made Rooster and Dumplings a couple of weeks ago. I am making it Sunday for him and his kids are coming up as well as my grandaughter who is up for the weekend. She knows that is what we are having....I think it helps because she really likes Chicken and Dumplings and she really likes my cooking. No green face when I mentioned it this weekend.

But I mentioned often that we would be eating some and keeping some for eggs.

I think it has been a good lesson for her as she has not really been around anyone hunting and eaten what was brought home. I think we should all be aware of where our food comes from. That said I can tell you it was a little hard to get past the fact that the Rooster and Dumplings were from one of my roosters on the first batch. I could not believe the difference in the flavor and I am looking forward to fixing it again for all the family this weekend.

Being honest with your kids about it from the start I think pays off. We also got four cute little piggies to raise for meat. Same grandaughter started in with naming them and we went through it all again. She knows they are all going to market at some point. Well, except the one that we will have bred and grow out those babies, once again for the same purpose.

It is all a life lesson that we have to learn in our effort to be more self sufficient and to know 'where' our meat really comes from.
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My parents never really made a big deal about it. They didnt get all into the psychology of explaining it. Myself and my 3 sisters just went along with it. I think its easier for farm raised children to grasp alot of things and not make a big deal out of it, we saw the bull breed the cows, the goats fight, the cat kill a pigeon, etc. When we would get pigs, my dad would playfully suggest food names like porkchop, but he always told us why we were getting anything new, if it was for breeding, he said so, if it was for eating, again he told us. Once my sister, the most soft hearted of us, asked if she could have a pig that we wouldnt kill after it got big, knowing how much time she spent with the hogs, and that she fed, watered, and tamed them, making it easier to handle them, my dad got her a lil pot bellied piglet, and he lived with a lone duckling for many years as a pet. There are many facts of life that having animals gives a parent an opportunity to teach. I remeber the first time i felt rejection, it wasnt from another kid at school, it was from my grandpa's work dog "buck". He wasnt mean, he just didnt like to be petted and wouldnt come to the house, he stayed with the cows at the barn or in the pasture, and only had eyes for my grandpa. My pa told me that was his place in the world, his job, and his happiness, and that was okay to let him be and do what made him feel good. He contributed in a positive way and that was all that mattered, my pa then told me that my uncle was arnery too, but we all put up with him because he would stay up all night watching the hog roast!!!!

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