Sunday, July 16, 2006

Feathery on the Outside, Meaty on the Inside

Saturday's task: turn a bunch of feathered eating machines into food for the family.

Actually, I was thinking of titling this one "Poopy on the Outside, Meaty on the Inside". Appetizing, eh?

The trouble is, we had quite a bit of rain recently. That caused the ground in the pen to get muddy and poopy. Since meat chickens are heavy and spend a lot of time sitting on their fronts, and poop sticks better than dirt, they all had poopy feathers on the front -- especially near their tails.

Well, we're not eating the feathers, or even the skin. Some people eat just about everything, including the feet. We know where those feet have been, though.

Anyhow, a couple days ago, we caught all of the larger meat chickens and put them into the adjacent pen. That pen isn't very secure. Chickens often crawl under the wire. The meat birds are too big, though.

So, we put the meat birds in there, tossed whole corn on the ground, and set up a big watering trough. It took them a while to figure out that they could eat whole corn, but they eventually (actually very quickly) got hungry enough to eat it. We now have corn-fed birds.

The night before, we didn't feed them. It's easier to clean them with an empty crop. Also, since they are supposed to have no food available for twelve to sixteen hours out of every twenty-four, it didn't cause them any undue hardship.

Since nobody asked, we didn't take any pictures. There are pictures of the process somewhere on the internet, so you can look it up if you are curious. Or, you can arrange to come here for the next batch and share in the fun first-hand.

If you join any chicken group, you'll eventually be treated to a discussion about how to dispatch the birds. The old classic method is to use a hatchet and a chopping block. This has the advantage of being quick, but there is every indication that the head lives for a good 20-40 seconds after it is severed. I have seen them gasping for air and blinking. I guess there is enough oxygen in the blood to last a little while.

There are people who break the birds' necks, but that has the disadvantage of killing them before they are bled out. I like my meat to be well-bled, so I have never tried that method.

The best method, in my humble opinion, is to use an extremely sharp knife to slit the chicken's throat. If the knife is sharp enough, there will be little pain (anyone who has been cut by a really sharp knife knows that it takes a while for the pain to register, while a dull or serrated knife is very painful).

In any case, you want a calm chicken. Some people administer hooch to the bird before dispatching him. I haven't tried that one, but I understand it works well.


Blogger Chickpea said...

If you ply your birds with liquor before killing them, are they pre-marinaded?

5:46 AM  

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