Why can't I process my chickens?


May 7, 2015
Floresville, TX
Hopefully this won't end up too long, but I will apologize in advance. :)

I really want to process my birds. Raising meat humanely for my family is important to me. But I just can't. I have no interest in ever butchering one of my laying hens...those are my sweethearts. However, I can't any of them!

Last sumner I decided i was just going to do it. I bought 6 cornish X. Start small you know. I tried to separate myself from them emotionally but they were nothing like everyone claims. They were pretty and full of personality and while huge, very active. So I started trying at 10 weeks. I chickened out over and over. I finally managed to process one at 13 weeks. It took me several tries to go through with it over the course of 2 days. I finally used the broomstick method which was instant and clean. I should have been happy. But i cried and cried. I have no issues with cleaning once an animal is dead so that part was no problem. It was just the killing part. He was absolutely delicious when we ate him and i felt proud. But I can't do it again. I want to! I have had two broodies hatch babies and have another setting right now. I would love to eat my extra roos! But how? What is wrong with me? Women have done this for years. Why can't I?
You can't do it because other people have been doing it for you all your life.
I really dislike processing day but I do it reluctantly.

I started this thread which turned into a good discussion. I think you'll find it enlightening and helpful.

X 2 - perhaps it would help if you were able to find a mentor, someone who is near you that has processed a bird and can help you get through that first time. Failing that, there is no shame in raising them yourself and having someone else do the processing for you if that is something you just cannot bring yourself to do.
Bottom line is, if one eats meat, an animal has to die.
What gets me through it is knowing if I buy chicken from the grocery store or at a restaurant, that bird lived a much less desirable life than the ones here. The persons that catch said birds and hang them on the assembly line where they are processed by automatic equipment do thousands a day and have no personal attachment to them.
For me, I can't name them.

I care for them deeply, I want them to live happy lives until it's their time to be culled. I check on them 4-5x a day because I worry something might be uncomfortable or their brooder won't be clean enough if someone spills the feed or makes doodle all over. I even have to hold a few fluffy butts everyday to "get my fix," but I have to keep reminding myself that they're dinner.

My meat birds don't have names. That has helped sort of distance me a little emotionally. My hens have names though and they're spoiled just the same.
I find if I process the cornishX or Freedom Rangers at 3.5-4 weeks as Cornish game hens or at 6 or 7 weeks as broilers, I don't get attached at all.
The heritage breeds that take 16 weeks to butcher size are a different story.
I let 2 Cornish X go to about 10 weeks once and it was harder because they were free ranging and would run (read that as waddle) to me every time I went outside.

As for naming, never have. All my birds are named 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, et. al..
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Thanks everyone. I am almost afraid having someone else dispatch them may be the only way I can do this. I plan to try again, but if every time was as painful as the one I did, it would be far too much for me to handle.

I don't think it's a matter of someone has always done it for me though. As I said, I have no issues with cleaning them once they are dead. I have done it quite a bit with all kinds of things (deer, fish, squirrel, turtle...) and consider myself fairly efficient and capable. I am really just wondering if maybe there are people who simply can't do the killing part or if there are people like me who do get past this. I actually catch and relocate rattlesnakes, black widows, scorpions. Maybe I just don't have what it takes to kill?

It seems like there are a few who understand and have, perhaps, struggled at least close to how much I am. That gives me some hope.

One thing I am NOT is a hypocrit so that thread I was directed to started me off feeling defensive. I like to take showers. I had a water pipe break recently and spent half a day repairing said pipe so my water works again. Somehow I still manage not to consider everyone who would have simply called a plumber a hypocrit. I have a friend who says anyone willing to kill an animal to eat has to have serious underlying evil. Yet she has no problem eating meat every single day. She is a hypocrit. I, desperately trying to get past my issues with this, am not!

I think chickencanoe is on to something. My cornish X free ranged with my layers. I didn't name them but still got very attached. I ended up keeping one roo I especially loved until he died at a bit over a year old and he ended up named Big Mean Meatie, though he didn't have a mean bone in his body. The rest were never called anything. I think I need to try having them fenced off separate from my layers.

And I wanted to add, sorry it took me so long to get back to this. We are having storm after storm and my internet has been sporadic at best.
I have been processing my own birds for 4 years now. I feel good about the way they are raised. I feel good about the quality of food I feed my family. I feel good about the fact that I am not participating in factory farms. That said at the moment of kill I have sadness and a slight squeamishness. I don't want to lose that. It is part respect for life, part my human-ness. I consider myself practical not cold hearted. I respect the vegan,the subsistence hunter and the spectrum in between. Wherever you find your self just be true to your own heart.
I am trying. :) Honestly, if I lived alone I could easily be a vegetarian. I have been briefly and loved it. However, with a husband and 4 sons, meat is considered important here. :) I hope that one day I can do it myself. I want to. I really, really want to. I won't eat store eggs because of the horrible lives those poor hens have, I certainly don't want their meat. I plan to try with tbe extra roos from my broody hens. I just hope they are really mean! :D

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