Warning~Some of the following pictures may be hard to look at. Please decide if you want to look at pictures of chickens being processed before you continue to read. Remember, this blog is about my real farm life experience. Thanks.
After 9 weeks of raising these Cornish Cross Chickens from chicks, it was time for harvest day! We moved them daily and fed them organic feed. They got new pasture to explore and a fresh palette of bugs daily. The kind of chicken they are, are bred specifically to grow quickly for use as a meat bird. If we let them to continue to grow, ‘naturally’ their breasts would become to big they would either die of a heart attack or not able to to get up and move and die for other reasons. Although that doesn’t paint the prettiest picture, these type of bird makes it more economical to grow. Feeding them organically already puts the cost up to at least $3 per pound. But this is a reality and choice farmer have to face.
And so the harvest continues…Flora administered a blessing before we started…in her own words, she thanked them for being food for us and explained the reality of the farm; “It is just what happens when you get big”.
Step 1. The Kill.
When chickens are upside down they calm down, which is one of the reasons we put them in these cones. It also helps to keep them from flapping about, for their sake and ours. It also works well for draining the blood quickly. A quick slit to the aorta and the job is done. It takes about a minute to drain the blood.
Step 2. The Dunk
We dip them in hot, but not boiling water, enough to loosen up the feathers.
Step 3. The Plucker
I think this step is really better with pictures than words…
Step 4. Evisceration
The last step is gutting the bird. It’s quite amazing how fast it goes from chicken at the farm to looking like chicken from the grocery store. Than we put the birds on ice, let them cool down, than bag them and put them in the freezer. As you can see, we had many observers throughout the experience, from the laying chickens, to Stella. We do it outside in the fresh air, it really doesn’t smell, and we can compost all the byproducts we aren’t able to use.
As you can see from their expressions, nobody really loves the process, but its all part of learning to raise our food from scratch. And we all enjoy a good roast chicken or some homemade chicken soup!