When you hatch your own chickens, you get a roughly 50/50 ratio of males to females … so what do we do with all our roosters? We grow them on and then turn them into a weekend roast!
(The images in this post do not depict anything that you would not normally see as part of preparing meat for a meal. If you are so inclined that images of this form offend you, please do not read this post)
As is the way with living on our farm, we let these boys grow up alongside their sisters, but when puberty kicks in and they start to fight, then we intervene by scheduling their booking at out kitchen table.
Before we select our bird(s), we ensure that we have a clean table and board to cut on, sharp knives for butchering, a bucket for plucked feathers and entrails and plenty of hot water (in a tub preferably) to assist with plucking.
We do not take the decision to slaughter our birds lightly. While our roosters are not pets, we have still grown them from little chicks, so we make sure that they are relaxed and comfortable beforehand. As all our birds are accustomed to being handled, they think nothing of being caught and carried away.
Once we have collected our bird, we tie up his feet and then place an old sock over his head. Once he relaxes, we lay him down and remove his head. We hold him as still as possible at this point until he relaxes and then start to clean him up.
As we pluck manually, it takes about 10-15 mins to process each bird. They go from this…
to this …
They are very big birds, as you can see by comparing the bird size to the paring knife in the image above.
The meat from this chicken (Plymouth Rock), is much darker than what you find in the supermarket. It is more red than white and has a layer of chicken fat on it that makes for an amazing flavour when cooked. It is a heritage breed chicken and was actually bred to be used as a dual purpose bird … for both meat bird and egg production. This carcass dressed up to 2.1kg for your reference and was a 23 week old rooster. Much older (and larger) than store bought meat chickens which are usually around 8-10 weeks old.
At least these birds had a longer life than most of their counterparts.
NB: The birds we slaughter are for our own consumption only. These are not for sale to the public. When our meat birds are available for purchase, they will be managed through a local poultry processing plant nearby.