For instructions on processing your birds, check out my post How to Butcher a Chicken.
A Helping Hand
My husband, son, and I live 600 miles from my parents. We visit them in New York every summer and they visit us in Illinois at least once a year, now that they are retired. It’s not the same as living next door, but I take whatever I can get.
Normally I butcher chickens, ducks, and turkeys on my own. It’s a lot of work, but I manage. This latest flock of meat chickens was ready to butcher right in the middle of a visit from my parents. How convenient! (for me, anyway.) So my Dad put on his work clothes and barn boots, grabbed a knife, and helped me process the birds.
Dad and I butchered 8 chickens on Saturday and my Mom manned the vacuum sealer. I used a hatchet that my Dad gave me to do the dirty work. Dad did almost all of the scalding and plucking, while I did most of the gutting. The birds were cleaned up and in the freezer pronto. From start to finish, it probably took about 4 hours. We finished the last 7 chickens on Tuesday…for a total of 15 hefty roasters ready for the winter.
Each chicken weighs approximately 5 to 6 pounds and cost about $12 to raise. Not the cheapest way to provide meat for our family, but I know what they ate and how they were raised. These chickens had the best life I could provide and they died as quickly and with the least amount of stress possible. They went from pen to chopping block to freezer in a short period of time with no arsenic in the feed, no chilling in a soup of e coli, and no chance of scalding while still alive and aware. I feel pretty darn good about that and I don’t mind paying a little bit more for home raised meat.
Thank you, Cocomamma 🙂
I agree completely with you! Thanks for stopping by!
Thank you so much for this informative post. While I don’t think I have the courage to butcher an animal myself (yet), I feel very strongly that only those with the nerve to butcher their own meat have the right to eat it. It’s too easy for people to pick up the shrink wrapped package at the meat counter and not think for a second about the animal whose life was taken. I have much admiration for you and thank you again for writing an honest post about the not-so-idyllic part of homesteading.
City girl longing for a homestead
I do have chickens, but not getting any eggs right now, my son in law is going to butcher our roosters,I enjoy your blog very much, thanks for sharing. Have Blessed day. kay
Enjoy the meat from those roosters! I find that older roosters can still be quite tasty after a nice long stewing session. 🙂 Young roosters don’t need to be cooked that long.
I wonder, do you have a light on a timer in your chicken coop? Hens need around 15 hours of light a day to lay. Some people like to keep things natural so the hens don’t wear out as young…I like to have eggs all year, so I use the light on a timer.
Bet it was nice to have extra sets of hands… 🙂
It was wonderful, Nancy!
We plan to do some meat birds next. I know it is still expensive but I look forward to being able to raise our own meat.
That’s great Jenny! I hope you have a great experience. 🙂
We processed 6 surplus roosters and it was such a good feeling knowing that they lived like chickens should and we knew from egg to freezer everything about them. (though I don’t recommend Olive Eggers for meat LOL). Next year the goal is to raise meat birds specifically and if we end up with any roosters from our hatchings then process them (we no longer have OEs LOL). Great post 🙂
Thanks! I’m wondering why the Olive Eggers weren’t great for meat? Just curious!
Good for you! I also butcher the extra roosters and they are usually a bit on the skinny side. 🙂
Great post, and out look, when you it cost you $12 to raise, is that for all of them or one? We have been talking about getting chickens for meat and eggs for awhile now, just wondering what I’m in for.
That was the price per chicken. When I raised them on the conventional meat producer feed in the spring the cost was around $8 each. This time I used an organic chick starter feed and then switched to a ‘natural’ feed (not organic). So the cost was higher.
Thanks for stopping by!