Despite my lack of motivation on the weekend (due partially to the bad weather, my lack of mobility on my recovering ankle, and wanting to spend more time with my children), I managed to get some great things completed.
Last week I decided that I needed to reduce the number of Roosters which I owned, from four to zero. I am trying to raise some hens, for eggs, sale, or whatever. The Roosters are not really adding anything to my production, and they are just eating and wasting space. Don’t get me wrong… they are great animals. They have great personalities and they look very handsome with their green/black feathers. Problem is that they are eating food that would be better spent on the hens, and they are taking up space in the Chicken Tractors… causing the other chickens to feel a little cluttered. In addition, I think they may be fighting with the hens or other roosters, as I am seeing an increase in feathers being removed and left on the ground.
So, in order to improve the lives of the hens, I need to remove some of the roosters. I decided that I would butcher two of them, so that I can get a good idea of the taste of the chicken meat. If I decide to sell them, it would be a good idea to know what I am working with. So, early on Saturday, I decided that I would kill and butcher the two largest roosters. The preparation required was to sharpen my knives, gets some string to tie the animal to the hook, and some rubber gloves.
My eldest son, on hearing of my intention to butcher a chicken, expressed his wish to watch. He told me he didn’t know why, but he felt a compulsion to watch. I told him that it was natural, as people want to know about food production. I said he was welcome to watch, and if he changed his mind at any time, he was free to leave the area. To his credit he watched the whole thing and expressed to me that it was a lot calmer that he expected.
I selected the largest rooster first. I gently took him to a shaded area and sat with him for a while, stroking his feathers till he was totally at ease. I slowly placed the knotted string around his two legs and tied them together, before walking him to the area which was to be the slaughtering area. I hung him upside down from a nail that was sticking out of a wooden frame behind my greenhouse. He was a little confused about this, but didn’t make a fuss. I knelt down before him and calmly stroked his head and neck, till he relaxed. I have been told that if you hold a chicken upside down it will fall asleep and I can say that this is what appeared to happen to my rooster. His eyes closed and he just relaxed. When I was ready, I grasped my sharpest knife (a friend will be delivering some razors for me to use in the future) and, after parting the feathers at his neck, I slowly and precisely sliced open the skin. The rooster did not even notice this act. The reason lays in the fact that he is almost asleep, I have calmed him, and the knife is so sharp he didn’t feel it (have you ever cut yourself with a super sharp knife? You might not even notice it). Once I had cut his skin, I quickly located his main artery and tenderly severed this, allowing the blood to start to pour out into a bucket. The rooster did not even flinch and before he could possibly wake, he had lost so much blood that he was unconscious. It was such a gentle and soothing way to die. This is actually very close to Halal slaughter of animals. Once he had stopped breathing and the blood stopped flowing, I removed his head and began to pluck. I don’t normally pluck my chickens, yet I wanted to know how tasty this skin was in a roast. The time taken to complete the plucking took the longest out of the whole process. I did miss a few bits and pieces during the plucking, but I took care of most of that before cooking.
The meat turned out the be the best chicken I have ever tasted. Everyone in my family loved it, and I even shared some with my friends, who also told me how amazing the chicken tasted. I put this down to the organic life that they enjoyed, and the gentle method of death. I will definitely have to try some more.