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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Chicken Killing Time

The rock cornish hens out on pasture hunting bugs, eating greens and organic grain.

Tomorrow we get our chickens killed and processed and when they come back to us they will will be vacuumed packed and delicious. We take our birds to a farm in EC Darke county, King and Sons, that has a growing state inspected certified organic poultry and rabbit abbitioir. We have been using them for at least 10 years and they do a great job of processing the birds. Because it is a family business and local the money we spend getting the chickens processed stays in the area. And it is quite a bit of money-around $3.50 a bird. But when we get our birds back they look professionaly done and they have an ODA inspection seal on them which means we can sell them about anywhere in Ohio.

I find it is money well spent as we do not like butchering and cleaning the birds, especially without the correct equipment. We have done it before but it was not easy and it took us about an hour per bird to get the job done and the birds looked awful (we "butchered" them so to speak). The Kings get a bird completely processed in about 5 minutes so 50 birds at the Kings is done in about 2 hours vs 50 birds at Boulder Belt being done in about 3 days. We could buy the equipment to kill our own but that would be around a $2,000 to $5,000 investment and than we would lose the inspection so the birds could only be sold directly off the farm. And since we only do 100 to 200 birds a year it would take us about 10+ years to recoup the investment over using others to kill our birds for us.

That, and we at Boulder Belt find the whole killing process Icky. So we get others to do the dirty work for us and it is still hard for us to do, though it gets a bit easier every time we take a batch of birds up to be killed. The first time we took chickens up to be killed we cried like babies and were depressed for several days and really questioned doing this sort of farming. But the chickens were so tasty and healthful and since we are omnivores we decided we needed to get over our sensitivity or go vegan. Eating factory farmed chickens is NOT an option, they are bad meat as far as my palate is concerned. Now we no longer cry over the birds but we do feel a bit down for a while after the deed is done.

The upside is we suddenly have one less chore to do. We no longer have to devote several hours each day starting at sunrise to the care and feeding of 50 birds and that, my friends, will be a big relief. We are so tied to being home in order to feed and water them. Especially making sure they are put in their moveable coops at sunset so no predators get to them. This puts such a damper on our social life as we cannot stay out past dusk.

As you can see, killing day is a bittersweet time for us. It is hard to take the life of another living being but as people who eat meat we do appreciate the wonderful meals these birds will provide as well as needed income for the farm. And it is nice not to be chained to the chickens and be able to have some freedom to leave and return to the farm when we want.


Gina said...

Well, it is a bit reassuring that I am not alone in my conflict over killing animals and eating meat. My mom always says, "How can you kill them? You should just buy your meat at the store!" I remind her that meat bought at Krogers or whereever comes from bad situations (i.e. factory farms) and my meat is raised with respect and the best conditions I am able to provide.

Nevertheless, the task of deciding who is going to be dinner over the winter is a hard one, indeed. We had to kill a rooster yesterday (aggressive behavior) and I couldn't watch. I haven't been able to butcher the chickens (or anythng else) myself so $3.50 sounds like a deal to me!

aikani said...

I've done the butchering thing for some friends when I lived in NH....It is kind of gross, but, the end result is (in so many ways) more satisfying than anything store bought. (btw, say hi to "gooch" from an old friend from EC.....David Wagner)

TurkeyFarmer said...

Do you have contact information for King and Sons? I'd love to get on their schedule. Thanks.

Lucy said...

Turkey Farmer King and Son's number is:
Don't call on Sunday