Have you ever considering butchering homegrown chickens? Or perhaps you want to raise your own meat chickens but you don’t feel prepared to butcher them at home?
Chickens are a very convenient source of meat. Whether you’re living on a large property in the country or a small suburban block, you can usually find room for a few chickens, they are cheap to feed and they are relatively small and easy to butcher. However, I have talked to (and read blogs about) many people who find the idea of killing a chicken very difficult.
Hi, I’m Liz, and I’m joining Marie here today to share with you about getting ready to butcher homegrown chickens. I live on eight acres in south east Queensland, Australia, with my husband Peter and dogs Taz and Gus. We have a passion for small-scale organic farming and producing and eating real food. We keep chickens, beef steers, two jersey cows and a big vegetable garden.
I write about our farm to both inspire and help others who are interested in self-sufficiency, sustainability and permaculture. You can find more about me and our family at Eight Acres.
It seems to me that the main barrier to keeping chickens for meat can be psychological.
The idea of eating a small cute animal that you have (often) raised from a chick is hard and many people do struggle at first. However, with all the advantages of raising chickens for meat, it’s a shame that some people can’t get past this. Here are a few ideas that may help overcome the psychological barriers and help you deal with the idea of raising chickens for meat.
Quality of life
The chickens that you raise will have a nicer life than any farmed chicken. Even if you buy free-range organic chicken meat (and most people cannot afford to do this) the chickens that you raise yourself are going to have access to better food, more space and smaller flocks.
The reality is that, unless you are planning to be vegetarian, or at least stop eating chicken, you are taking a chicken’s life every time you eat chicken meat, so you may as well be in control of that process.
It comforts me to know that I did the best for my chickens from the day they hatched through to the day that they die.
In order to minimize the stress on butcher day, you need to be prepared both physically and mentally for what is ahead.
Make sure that you watch some YouTube videos and read as much as possible so that you know what is going to happen and that you have all the equipment you need for your chosen method to kill the chickens, bleed them out and pluck them.
If you can watch someone else kill a few chickens first, it will make it easier when its your turn. There are a few people running courses now, and if you can find an older person in a rural area, most will know what to do. Just ask if you can help next time they are going to butcher a chicken.
It gets easier
The first time you butcher a chicken, it is emotional.
Don’t beat yourself up if you get upset.
The first few times we butchered chickens I thought that I wouldn’t be able to eat the meat. But we cooked them and it smelt (and tasted) so good that I was able to get over it and just enjoy the chicken and be thankful for it.
Remind yourself that your chickens had a good life (and one bad moment, which if done properly, they were barely aware of).
Remember the advantages
Throughout the process, keep reminding yourself that if you can master raising and butchering chickens for meat you are on the way to saving yourself money and increasing your self-reliance.
If you focus on the end result, its much easier to find the mental stamina required to get through the unpleasant parts.
Useful links from my blog, Eight Acres
This is how we butcher our chickens, however there are lots of different methods, so you will need to do some research to decide what will work for you.
This is about how we raise chickens for meat – we just hatch a lot of eggs, keep the hens for layers and raise the roosters. You can also buy meat birds if you want to. I discuss it all in that post.