I woke up on the big day — the day devoted to butchering our first rooster, Runner — to the sound of squawking guineas and roosters crowing.
We’d avoided processing him for a long time. We didn’t have a proper knife, scalding pot, or the ultimate drive to follow through. Runner was never intended as a meat bird, but his temperament deemed it necessary. Perhaps having to watch him attack our children every day was the Lord’s way of easing us into the business of raising meat birds.
I had imagined this day over and over again in my thoughts but I didn’t know how it would go. How would I feel? Would I be able to participate?
We arrived at our friend’s home, where the deed would be done, to find them already eviscerating their second bird. I watched as they processed their third, humanely slicing the throat, letting the blood drain, scalding and plucking the feathers, and finally cleaning it out.
I watched in wonder, the children playing in the background throughout the proceedings. When the fourth bird came along, I helped to pluck the feathers, much to my husband’s surprise.
Runner was next. My husband prayed, thanked the Lord for this provision, and hung Runner upside down in an orange cone. The sight wasn’t gruesome enough to have my children turn away — nothing worse than a few of the movies I have, unfortunately, seen.
Runner shook a bit, bled out, and was still. I, in my pregnant hormonal state, did cry, but after we thanked the Lord for Runner’s life, my tears washed away and I plucked the feathers after the scalding. I had imagined it to be a laborious process — one “tweezer pick” at a time — but it was done in a flash. Less than ten minutes and our fluffy Wyandotte was bald from toe to comb.
Unfortunately, we slit open his gallbladder accidentally while cleaning him out, but we flushed the black goo out immediately and it did not leave a stain. My husband removed the heart, lungs, head, feet, and a few other necessities. We then brought Runner into the house to clean him off again, soak him in ice, and freeze him.
I no longer dread the thought of chicken culling. My hands have been involved in nearly every aspect of the process and I thank the Lord that I was able to see a chicken raised humanely, fed a soy-free, free-range, non-GMO diet, and killed quickly to provide sustenance for my family.
It is much easier to call our neighboring chicken farmer, but we now await our first order of meat birds. To see and care for the life that will one day provide food for my family is a wonderful experience that feeds not only my body, but my soul as well.
What was your first butchering experience like? Did you have any mixed feelings? If so, what were they?
save time, spend less, and get healthy... simple & delicious traditionally-cooked meals using ingredients you already have... even leftovers... 30 min or less!
free worksheet + videos:
Healthy Dinner in 30 Minutes... While Spending $0 Extra!
We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. This post may contain special links through which we earn a small commission if you make a purchase (though your price is the same).
We raised a batch of meat birds last summer and I cried when we processed the first few. It really is hard. We’ve done several since then, including a few roosters from a straight run of orpingtons we purchased from a neighbor. I always feel a bit overwhelmed in the days leading up to the butchering. I take comfort though in the fact that they had a healthy life and were allowed to be chickens before their time came. I hope you enjoy your meat birds! Ours were really tasty.
Tracey Vierra says
Thanks for sharing, Jenny. Runner is still in our freezer, but he is up next for our crock pot. We just moved our meat birds to the pasture yesterday, hopefully they will fatten up with some good bugs, grass, and gleanings from the garden. I’ll let you know how all goes late next month. : ))))
My first butchering process was spur of the moment. We had an ornery roo that finally did himself in when he attacked our not-quite-2 year old for the last time. DH had a hammer in his hand and laid into him (he had knocked her on the ground and was attacking her back). I chased him back into the coop and pinned him under my arm. I looked at DH and said “Now what?” We knew it was time for him to go (he was getting worse by the day). Of course this was the one chicken out of the 15 we had that was named… and it was a bit traumatic for all the kids involved (one was screaming because she had been attacked, one was crying b/c she was next to her and scared, and my oldest was crying “don’t kill Peter!”. It was a mess). DH took the kids fishing while I quickly watched a youtube video then set out with a knife in hand. I just skinned him since it was short notice and I had no idea what I was doing. 45 minutes later I had one scrawny chicken in my fridge 😛 Evidently he was too busy chasing the hens (and my children!) to eat! A couple nights later we had “Peter soup” and my little girl got the sweetest revenge of all – by eating 4 bowls of it! We were able to talk to the kids once the chaos settled down and everything was fine after that. They are getting older now and understand that meat comes from animals. I do like the idea of thanking God for it at butcher time. We are getting started with meat rabbits (and my son started squirrel hunting) – that’s something we will for sure incorporate in the future!
???? thank you for your story. I really did laugh to tears. You really have a way with words.
I stumbled upon your blog through a farming board on Pinterest, but just saw the history of your son. My little girl (that was the one attacked in my rooster story) also suffers from a wide variety of food allergies and sensitivities (we almost killed her twice before her first birthday, not realizing what was going on). I am in the process of a second major kitchen/diet overhaul and I think your site will be a good starting point. Thank you!
Stacey @ Happy Hegarty Homestead says
Butchering, even the thought of it makes me cry. I have known for a few years now that is the direction I want our farm to go. We butchered,well, my husband and some neighbors, our first set of roosters and our first ducks from this year. I know it will get easier the more we do but I found myself crying for days. I love knowing they had great lives and it will be very good meat for my family. Now just to let my heart know it a bit more. Thanks for your story. It’s nice to know others have to deal with the emotions too.
I found it surprisingly liberating. I’m a real girlly girl but was mitivated to have the best quality chicken possible. My husband wouldn’t do it do a friend taught me. I put it on a par with getting a number 2 hair cut and getting s brasilian done for the first time. Lol. But seriously culling chickens is way easier thsn you imagine. Wel that was my experience.
I raised my first 6 meat chickens this year. Along with 24 layers. (I kept falling in love with all the breeds) I spoiled them and played and held them way too much, but they were super docile and friendly. After watching them grow so fast and not able to move and run like the others, it seems like the most humane thing to do. Also, the amount of food and the giant poops was enough for my practical side to be ok as well. My roommate did the deed while I watched and carried the birds to him. He had dug a trench in the ground and in it layer a wood block. He gently wrapped the chicken in an old towel and laid the bird on the ground, petting its neck and head until the chicken relaxed and rested its head on the wood block. One quick strike with the cleaver and it was done. This method seemed less stressful to the bird than the cone method. And then onto processing. Once the head was gone it just looked like food and not a friendly pet. Other than the initial smell of scalding the birds the cleaning process wasn’t too bad. I did get a little nauseous when we brought them inside to wash and cut them up, warm raw chicken smell can be a bit much.