Boulevard Farm

Live on our urban homestead

Chicken Harvest, part 1 November 22, 2010

Filed under: Chickens — sarahtar @ 5:26 am

Well, on Thursday, I fed my meat birds their last meal – all corn. On Friday, I went out and took away their food dish. And on Saturday, we loaded our birds into two large cardboard boxes and drove them out to Sugar Creek Family Farm to meet their destiny.

We started with Chuck and Larry. Chuck has been living in my basement for about 3 weeks, and Larry joined him last week. Noisy little buggers. I started feeling bad for the neighbors, particularly with Chuck. Even though we’re not technically supposed to allow chickens to live in our house, I didn’t see any alternative.

So here’s Larry. Notice something missing?

Obviously, the first step in this operation is killing the chickens. There are several methods. Some people prefer to cut their throats and let them bleed to death. Honestly, that’s really a bit too hands-on for me. Some people prefer to wring their necks (sometimes by holding onto the bird’s head and swinging it around) – that seems too iffy. A lot of people feel that removing the chicken’s head is the most humane – it certainly is fast. And this is what we did. Abby (of Sugar Creek) has tried chopping a head off in the past, and found it to be somewhat difficult to get a nice, clean cut each time. Her preferred method – and the method we used – is to step on the bird’s head and pull. Breaks their neck right away, so they die really quickly, and then if you keep pulling, the head comes right off.

So I’ll admit – I watched Abby do the first one and thought it was among the grossest things I’ve ever seen. But I was ready to give it a try by the third bird. And then we quickly found something out. I can’t do it. Not squeamishiness, but physically – I can’t do it. I can’t pull up strongly enough to get the job done.


So… back to the gym for me.

Then we also discovered that Randy’s a bit handicapped in this area, as well – he was having trouble getting bent over far enough while lifting up a foot to get the bird situated under his foot.

So we became somewhat of a Killing Team. I stood on the birds, he pulled.

After a while, we discovered we were more efficient if I held the bird on the ground, letting him step on the head, then handing him the feet so he could pull. Even so, some of the birds – older birds? – were REALLY hard to get separated from their heads, and so Randy and I would pull together, and it had to look completely silly.

And then we discovered that I can do the smaller birds by myself. wahoo! I was very happy, since I wanted to pull my own weight, so to speak.

So after beheading, we hung the birds up with some wire (worked better than twine) on this old clothing rack.

It was a little freaky the way they kept flapping around for a while. A few of them even wriggled enough that they flopped off the rack and went backflipping across the yard.

So, we let the birds drain for a while, and focused on getting ready for the next step.

And this is how Randy’s coveralls looked at the end of the evening. There were many jokes about what the dry cleaners would think if we dropped off four pairs of blood-spattered overalls. (Randy’s trying to look like some psychotic killer in this picture.)


3 Responses to “Chicken Harvest, part 1”

  1. Swingingoat Says:

    It should be noted, that I can bend over, however, the coveralls that I was wearing had a very high riding crotch and a short torso, so every time I bent over the crotch would rise higher… so self comfort and preservation dictated that I not bend very far…

  2. Momma Aimee Says:

    ok, that helps, i wondered why Randy could not bend and lift his foot at the same time.

    Maybe Randy needs new coveralls for Christmas?

  3. […] Though we kept Genna away from the actual killing process, and Wally wasn’t allowed outside because of his bronchitis, the kids nonetheless learned some things during this weekend’s activities. […]

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