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Stately Conundrum

Nov
2


Stately rooster.

We have too many roosters. About a half dozen. (Give or take one. They never line up, so I’m not sure exactly.) They’re nice roosters. No more mean ones. But they’re hard on the hens. I’ve lived on a farm long enough, and experienced the benefits of home-grown long enough, to think a real farmer would eat them. But I can’t. They’re my friends.

But they’re hard on the hens.

I’ll never get another box of chicks that’s not sexed. Though two of the roosters we have came from sexed boxes, so I know that’s not perfect. (But it helps.) I’ve thought about getting a set of meat chicks, just for eating. Put them in a separate chicken house (which we don’t have right now), and never look them in the eye.

Maybe someday……

Maybe.

I love my chickens.

But I buy chicken from the store. I know that makes no sense.

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on November 2, 2010  

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  1. 11-2
    1:24
    am

    I know what you mean about the chickens, last year we were thinking of getting some meat birds and a friend of mine who raises them had me come out to the ranch and help her “dispatch them” they were Roosters and were very pretty, she gave me two to take home for dinner, I made chicken and dumplings out of them and my hubby could hardly eat it! I learned so much out at the ranch helping, and she taught me how to do it ALL! she has a room her husband built that has a plucking machine, sink, and boiling water, this is called the harvest room, but when I got home I too had a hard time with the chicken and dumplings, I quess I am just a sissy! :? We all have the stories of Grandma just going out to the chicken pen and bringing one in for dinner. I know that its wonderful to know how the chicken was fed and cared for, and much better for you then store bought chicken.

  2. 11-2
    3:21
    am

    I raise all my roosters with the intention of putting them in the pot – I think that makes it easier. And the couple that I decide to keep for breeding are only getting a short reprieve, eventually that will be their destination too. I guess it’s easier having made that decision right from the start….or maybe I’m just hard-hearted. I have no problems eating my meat rabbits either, but I do get hubby to do the dispatching – I want it to be quick for them and I doubt my arm and my aim a little!

  3. 11-2
    4:17
    am

    Roosters I have no problem with thinning out. I can appreciate one or two roosters in a flock, they have a job to do. It’s time to cull when the rooster numbers rise and the hens are being harassed all day long and never get a break. It’s the old laying hens that I hate to butcher. I’ve figured out a way though, my sister does my spent hens and I kill hers. Easier that way since I don’t personally know the bird I kill. They do make some great soup stock!

  4. 11-2
    6:22
    am

    Exactly why my 2 roosters (I live in town, can’t have them!) found a new home! Everyone told me if I was going to be a farmer, I had to put them in a pot. Well, I’m pretty sure I’m big enough to do what I want ;)

    If I did have room for meat chickens, I think that would be ok, they wouldn’t be friends who I talked to everyday from the time they were 2 days old.

  5. 11-2
    6:44
    am

    Get the meat chickens, they grow super fast and you know from the beginning what’s going to happen to them so it makes things easier. Most meat chickens have to be killed early otherwise they can get too big and develop other problems so you are doing them a service by eating them early :)

    I love my chickens too they are my buddies BUT you can’t let roosters take over, either eat them or give them away.

    Also as a side note I’ve been reading your blog for quite awhile now and I love your pictures and stories!! Oh also have you ever thought about getting geese, we have some and I LOVE them, they aren’t as social or friendly as the chickens but I still love them!!

  6. 11-2
    6:47
    am

    To bad a few of them arent mean, it would make “dealing” with them a little easier :) We had three roosters I had to rehome for the same reason Cindy Im in town. Two of them were sweet as they could be and I cried to see them go, but the one I named Dracula!!! cause he was black and had red waddles like blood was dripping from his beak was always out for my blood!! I thought one day as I was quickly lifting him up into the coop (cause all the boys could not figure out how to use the ramp?!?) and he was trying to attack me at the same time, Yep I think I could put him in the stew pot… LOL

  7. 11-2
    7:01
    am

    It’s hard when you really just want eggs. I don’t eat meat. But almost two years ago I felt my single rooster wasn’t being roosterly enough, and a friend had an extra she wanted to unload, so I took him in. It didn’t work out. This is what I wrote about it: http://www.busysolitudefarm.com/2009/03/dominion.html

    Currently there are three roosters and two drakes in my flock of about 25 birds. I’m worried that a couple of the up-and-coming young ones might be male. Too early to tell. It’s not only buying straight run that sets you up. Letting a broody hen hatch the chicks — that’s what got me. So darned cute as babies… Well, that’s the problem.

    Good luck finding your own solution.

  8. 11-2
    7:02
    am

    I too have chickens but buy chickens at the grocery store.

    There are aprons/saddles you can put on the chickens to keep the roosters from completely tearing out all the hen’s back feathers. My neighbor has used them before. They looks silly, but they work.

    http://www.hensaver.com

  9. 11-2
    7:12
    am

    People ask me all of the time if I eat my GOATS!!!!!!!!
    ugh…of course not, I feed THEM!
    I will, however, be using their milk after they are bred this winter for spring kids!

  10. 11-2
    7:28
    am

    :purpleflower: I have chickens that are our pets and I raise meat chickens too. We call them the dinners. We have a rule we dont name what we are going to eat. However we had a very mean rooster JACK. He went into the soup pot during the last processing.
    Granny Trace

  11. 11-2
    7:33
    am

    At our place, we can’t afford to keep animals that aren’t earning their place. Killing any animal is hard but you need to have a plan for dealing with the unwanted/unneeded offspring before you get animals. Otherwise you don’t have a farm, you have a hobby.

  12. 11-2
    7:35
    am

    Well, I totally understand your problem . . . when I raised chickens, I couldn’t bring myself to eat them. I just gave away the roosters and when then hens quit laying, they just lived with us until they died of old age. . . . I’m such a wimp! I used to help with the chickens every summer at my Aunt’s and we would spend a week butchering and canning chicken – that pretty much fixed me for never doing that myself! Good luck with your decision!

  13. 11-2
    7:37
    am

    Time to put on that farmer hat again and take care of those roosters. Your blog is one of the reasons I have chickens of my own. I fully understood that if I ended up with too many roosters they were destined for the soup pot. I didn’t buy sexed chicks either. So when I ended up with 4 roosters and only 8 hens it was an easy choice. We even named one of them “Stewie”! He made a great chicken soup! I also couldn’t justify feeding those extra roos when they really weren’t producing anything for me.

    Now my broilers, they are really easy to put into freezer camp. Within 2 weeks broilers are really ugly looking. They have one purpose, put on weight fast. The cute stage is gone quickly and they are not the smartest or friendliest of the flock. We never name them and are glad to see them loaded up for the trip to the butcher once they are big enough. We don’t “harvest” our own, with 25 or more to do at a time the local meat locker does a nice fast job of it. And I get my birds back all clean and vacuum packed!

    Tell you what… those are some of the best tasting roasting birds I’ve ever had!

  14. 11-2
    7:39
    am

    Yeah, I know…I could never “wring a neck”, and this from a person who raises beef! Chickens are just so…so cool in their mannerisms, personalities, weirdness…birdness….

  15. 11-2
    7:39
    am

    Could you separate some of the roosters from the hens?

    My Dad had to kill chickens when he was a kid. So we were never allowed to have chicken in the house. Now I can’t imagine killing an animal to eat it.

  16. 11-2
    7:39
    am

    That makes perfect sense to me, Suzanne. I mean, the chickens in the grocery stores are ALREADY DEAD. We should not let those chickens die in vain, right?
    I could so be a farmer but would have to become a vegetarian if I HAD to butcher my own meat from my farm friends. Nope…so could NOT butcher anything.
    Glory Bee is getting prettier and prettier!

  17. 11-2
    8:46
    am

    I personally think it makes great sense to buy your chicken at the store. I could never, ever eat anything that had been walking around alive on my property. Kind of like your other pets.

    Susan

  18. 11-2
    8:51
    am

    Why wouldn’t you want pet chickens? I live in a retirement community in the country, we have a flock of pet chickens. Free range, egg giving,bug eating, cat chasing pets. Next spring I want to add a couple of Light Brahma hens if I can find them. The community also has two Koi ponds, decimated this summer by raccoons. Tho’ we all love the raccoons, we love them not in the Koi ponds. I’m having store bought chicken for dinner. :shocked:

  19. 11-2
    8:56
    am

    Store bought chicken makes perfect sense to me. I couldn’t kill and eat my pets either! :chicken:

  20. 11-2
    9:02
    am

    I have to agree with Cindy about the hobby vs. farm thing. It’s a process, though, and we each find our own way. For me, the trick is to keep my head in the right place and accept from the beginning that only the dogs and cats are my friends and partners (and even they must earn their keep!) Bottom line: I eat meat, and I choose for my own reasons to be fully responsible for that choice. That means doing the hard stuff as well as the fun parts. I decided when I moved to this farm that I’d pull up my big girl panties every day and do what needed to be done. I’m still working on the ‘every day’ part, but most days I manage to do it.

  21. 11-2
    9:03
    am

    It is very hard to butcher an animal you have cared for.I always remind myself why I raise them.I want both eggs and meat so somebody has to go.I also do not butcher my old hens.Sometimes I think it would be better to quickly kill them than let them die of some disease(with hens ovarian cancer is common) in old age.I also cry and thank the rooster for giving his life so I can live.Maybe there is a local butcher who can “do the deed” for you.Home raised chicken is like nothing you can buy in the store.

  22. 11-2
    9:29
    am

    You need to find a neighbor that would love some home-grown chickens to eat. Then let him/her catch them and cart them off to never-never land. That way they go to good use, you thin the herd a bit, but don’t have to have blood literally on your hands.

    UGH! I’d hate this part of farming. I couldn’t do it myself either. I’d have 142 chickens and still buy Tyson packages at the store…

  23. 11-2
    9:32
    am

    Susan I am the same way… they are my babies! For the longest time I had a hard time using the eggs- crazy I know… but there is NO way we could eat one of our own! I buy chicken at the store too. I have no idea what we are going to do when they get “old”- but I am certain we will be having ‘chicken funerals’ at my house!! My chicks are more spoiled then my kids… every morning they get warm oatmeal with dried fruit in it, or scrambled eggs ( which sounds just totally odd- but they like them), and sometimes I give them warm grits, my kids always wine… you don’t get up early and make us breakfast! I tell them you can come in the kitchen, the chickens can’t. LOL I just hate the thought of the colder weather coming and my lil babies out in the coop, please lord give me the strenght not to bring them into my house!! LOL We have 3 roosters and they all seem to get along and be friends- as long as there is enough picking things off the ground to keep them busy!!! But yes I feel for the girls too when the testosterone levels get alittle high in the coop!! :0) Best wishes and I love your blog!! :chicken:

  24. 11-2
    9:52
    am

    I know what you mean.. I have a bunch of nice roosters too. And still buy my chicken at the market.

  25. 11-2
    9:53
    am

    Yep, we have to many roosters right now as well. I can usually run them in the local newspaper and sell them. I need to do that! These are all young roosters just starting to crow. They would make great chicken broth if steamed them in my steam juicer but I just don’t have the patience or energy to pluck a bunch of roosters. I did plenty of that growing up along side my grandmother!

  26. 11-2
    9:54
    am

    Its not the easiest thing to do. It takes time to get to the point of being able to raise them for food. It took be about 4 years. I always say my “thank Yous” to my birds when I take them for processing. We are grateful for the life they give us. I do feel better eating my own birds. No worries about the other stuff that you hear of on the news. Go easy on yourself. It takes time. Once your there, youll appreciate it so much.

  27. 11-2
    9:54
    am

    I had a pet rooster, so I could never do it either. As I tell my hunny, “eggs come from chickens, but chicken breasts come from the market”

  28. 11-2
    9:58
    am

    :shimmy: you must eat the roosters!!! :eating: but even worse-my niece and family can’t eat the eggs-they love their chickens also-but come on!! I love my different chickens–but the eggs are so yellow-blindingly so :sun: -and delicious!! :duck: but the roosters=stew pot……….. :dancingmonster:

  29. 11-2
    10:08
    am

    I am doing a breeding project with a friend of mine, and the unfortunate results are 1/2 the chicks hatched are roos.

    So….we eat them. I feel bad, because I only raise lap chickens. I don’t name all my roos (only the ones I intend to keep) but they still develop names over time, like, “Stoopid”, or “Frikkin”, or “SHUT UP!!”.

    We’ll do the roos in big batches and freeze them. No matter how hard I try to forget, I can still tell who I am throwing in the crock pot. But then the crock pot starts smelling yummy, I feel a little guilty, and tell myself that roo was spoiled rotten his whole life and never once knew fear.

    When people ask how I do it, I whip out some stinging quip–but really, sometimes it isn’t easy. But…you do what you gotta do.

  30. 11-2
    10:11
    am

    I was raised on a farm and my sister and I were flogged by my dad’s “pet” rooster on more than one occasion. I don’t remember what happened to him, but the last time I remember seeing him was when he got my sister good. I would say we probably ate him shortly after that. I was scared to death of chickens for years becasue of Pete.
    You have inspired me to have chickens when I move back to the farm next year, but I will be putting them in the stew pot when it comes time, especially the roosters.
    Of course, I don’t have to put on my big girl panties and deal with it. That’s what my husband is for. :) He kills and cleans the critters and I cook them. It works for us.

  31. 11-2
    10:18
    am

    I get really annoyed when people think that because we don’t have large numbers of animals, somehow that makes the ones we do have be pets and our work is just a hobby. I love our critters and take pride in giving them the best of care but have no problem eating or selling them. Everybody here has a job to do, even the dog and cats.
    For eggs,I buy young laying hens so no chance of getting roosters that I have to deal with. For meat I get 25 meatbreed rooster chicks at a time. They are fun and grow fast.Then I take them to the locker for processing.I could do it but they do a quicker, neater job. Like I keep saying, there’s as many ways to do this country thing as there are people. If you want to make pets of your critters, fine with me. My animals have names and get pets and loves. But if you come to dinner or supper at our place, know that what you eat came right out of our coops, pens, and pastures.(By the way, goat done right is delish.)

  32. 11-2
    10:43
    am

    Suzanne, the thing about raising meat birds is they grow REALLY fast and make a lot of mess. It really gets to a point in the process where you are ready for them to be in the roasting pan. Trust me on this. I have egg layers and even a couple of Banty Roosters that I can never imagine cooking up but the meat birds are bred for fast growth and cooking. I think you would be just fine and there is nothing like the taste of homeraised chicken vs. the crap from the store. Just think of the hormones and injected broth you are getting in the final store product – it just may change your mind rather quickly.
    Given the amount of skill you have there would be no problem at all for you to raise some yummy birds! :hungry:

  33. 11-2
    10:57
    am

    Me too! All my chickens die of natural causes… I just keep adding more every couple years.

  34. 11-2
    11:18
    am

    We have an urban farm on which we raise chickens and a goat. We raised Dark Cornish roosters this year for the first time. Out of the 25 original chicks we got from Murray McMurray, six made it into the freezer. Four hens are in the paddock and two roosters are left in the freezer. A couple of things to note: 1) It takes a lot of high protien feed to get roosters to “market” weight. 2) You have to face loss and death the entire way. Predators stole most of our harvest (including my favorite hen) and killing is not for the feint of heart. But I don’t feel bad about the birds that are in the freezer. They are the best chickens we can get AND we know their lives were lived well. They got to range and eat grass and bugs and see the sky.
    I totally understand the unease with killing. If we found it to be easy, we’d be monsters. But feeling reverence for thier lives helps me thankfully accept the sustinence they provide my family. My rooster “friends” are feeding my children’s bodies and souls. This connection to the natural world is truly awesome. Even in the heart of the urban jungle.

  35. 11-2
    11:51
    am

    I just wanted to add that although I do love my chickens, they are a different kind of pet. One that I raise with the full knowledge that they are a working animal providing a food for my family. I didn’t get into this just because it was fun (but it is) or something new. I wanted to have greater control over the food my family eats. By raising chickens I have fresher, more nutritious and better tasting eggs. Also, the roos and the broilers give us wonderful meat that is not full of antibiotics and fed with pesticide laden feed. I know what they have eaten because I’m the one giving it to them. You can’t eat more “local” than this! Our family sits down together and enjoys a roasted chicken together every Sunday. What more could I ask for!

  36. 11-2
    12:00
    pm

    I had to do the unthinkable yesterday and buy a dozen store eggs. Don’t know what’s up with my hens, but they sure are not making eggs….

  37. 11-2
    12:04
    pm

    That’s what makes me want to do it, even though I don’t want to do it. I want to have my own home-raised organic chicken meat, not buy that stuff from the store. I’m working up to it. It’ll have to be different chickens, though, raised just for that purpose.

  38. 11-2
    12:11
    pm

    I think if you ever tasted one of your chickens you would never want a store bought chicken again. What about getting someone else to process them for you? They could keep half as payment for processing and give you the others back. Once they are processed, you won’t know who is who.

  39. 11-2
    12:16
    pm

    I am REALLY trying to get beyong this myself…right now I have two Turkeys that I raised for meat…I need to process them. I don’t have any experienced help, or previous knowldge, just the internet and the equipment I bought…time is running out and they are getting WAY too BIG waiting on me. I’m not attached to them like I am to my girls….but still, this is a hurdle.

  40. 11-2
    1:18
    pm

    When I was a teenager, it took me several weeks to be able to eat any meat: beef, pork, chicken, squirrel, rabbit, or deer after butchering. To this day I cannot eat wild meat if I know what it is. So that tells me it is all in my head! My husband use to love tricking me when he fixed a meal. He can prepare deer meat the best of anyone I know. Good Luck, Suzanne!

  41. 11-2
    1:54
    pm

    I’m right there with you. My chickens are for eggs. I had one die in the heat this summer but couldn’t eat it. My oldest son fed it to his falcon. :hungry: I’m sure it was better than store bought.

  42. 11-2
    3:43
    pm

    When I got chicks they were straight run as well. Out of 13 chicks I got 1 predator killed, 6 hens and 6 roosters. When they got to be about 4 months old my neighbors started to complain about the noise at night.
    Now, I live on an eight acre farm in an area of farms. We hadn’t had any kind of farm critters before as farming is new to us, but several of our neighbors have cows and chickens (including roosters). Just not the neighbors near the complainer. So I looked at the ratio and realized that even though She was being kinda lame, complaining about farm animals on a farm, that I had to do something about the extra Roos.

    I have never killed anything in my life bigger than a skeeter. I put an ad in the paper asking for someone to come and teach me how to dispatch and process my boys for half the meat. I got 2 responses. The first, from my friend Liz, was “Oh my GOD, you can’t kill Bob”. Bob is (no, he didn’t get eaten) a black and white polish rooster with enough personality to sink several ships. She decided she wanted him… and the two polish hens – good bye rooster, hello $45.00.
    The second response was from a lovely man who had grown up on a farm. He believed that if I was going to do this I should learn to do it right. He came to my house with all the tools required to do the deed (good thing too) and we dispatched 3 of the remaining 5 roosters. No Axe, no neck wringing and surprisingly little blood later I had three roosters in the fridge aging for a few days so they have a chance to go through rigor (otherwise they are VERY tough) Three days after that my son had taken one and a half home to feed (and try to gross out) his roommates. 2 months later there is half a roo left in the freezer.
    I learned that chickens have a “slot” at the back of their mouths that if you gently slide a very sharp, narrow paring knife into this slot and twist it is the quickest way to kill them with minimal fear and no pain because at the end of that slot is their brain. If you angle it right it makes the feathers come loose. They still twitch a bit but no running around headless.
    So now I have 4 hens and a rooster in the chicken coop and Eddie… who probably should have died too – but he’s the pet – he kinda matches the crooked little hen at your house and lives under the back porch because the other chickens beat him up when he was little…and you couldn’t pay me enough to eat him.

  43. 11-2
    5:32
    pm

    Marion,

    I think i’m going to be sick……. :bugeyed:

    Too much farm for me today!

  44. 11-2
    7:37
    pm

    Suzanne, I think you could raise meat chickens for the table. You managed the pigs. If you planned going into it they were destined for the freezer, you’d think about them differently. Do you have a local butcher who will kill and dress them? That would certainly help. Not only emotionally; killing, plucking, and cleaning a couple dozen chickens is a lot of work and a yucky job. Not that you shy away from hard work, but if there’s another option available why not use it?

    But I can’t think that your current roosters would be good for much other than long stewing. Doesn’t seem worth the sorrow. Maybe you can adopt them out, or coop them to give the hens a break.

  45. 11-2
    7:47
    pm

    Get rid of them. I know they are your friends, but for goodness sake. I feel bad for the hens. I have all hens, and NEVER want a rooster. They are just too stressful on their girls. I watch the rosters across the street from us chase their hens around. My hens just look over there, and turn and walk away.

  46. 11-2
    7:49
    pm

    I bought some chicks at TSC at a bargain price they turned out to be all roosters. I keeped mine in a port a pen. When they got older they treated each other so nasty. I thought I’m not going to put up with that. I tried to be humain. I tooked them behind the barn to do the deed. Chickens I could do. My goats I don’t think i could. I sold my buck kids so I didn’t have to think about it. But that was my plan for them.
    I did have a rooster with my hens. He was good to me. Never thought much about him til a little boy came over and asked if that mean chicken was still here. He sealed his fait when he came out of no where and attacked my Dad. Jumped up on his back and drew blood. You here the old saying tough old bird. He was a tough old bird didn’t think I would get him skinned. He was a gorgous, proud bird.

  47. 11-2
    8:47
    pm

    You could ship a rooster to me, I’m not that far away from you (middle of MD). My gals want a beau. :)

  48. 11-2
    10:04
    pm

    Lynne,

    I’m sorry!

  49. 11-3
    8:03
    am

    I’d put them in the pot. :) Get some meat birds to eat. They are so big ugly and stupid, by butchering time you almost feel like you are doing them a favor.

  50. 11-3
    10:44
    am

    Marion,
    Thanks for a great post! If my grandmas knew about this way to humanely kill poultry, they certainly didn’t pass it on! What a good thing to know!

  51. 11-4
    8:06
    am

    I love my chickens.

    But I buy chicken from the store. I know that makes no sense.

    Yes it does……
    Good Luck with that…
    Just name them something like pot pie and stew and baked…..kinda like sausage and patty

  52. 3-6
    10:46
    pm

    Wow! What deliciously gorgeous legs on that fella! “Hey good lookin’, wanna start cookin…in my crock-pot tub?” Oh, and his stately feathers could live a whole new life as a lovely necklace, hair wrap, or a key chain! I have 5 laying hens I acquired as pullets. Even though I have two favs, my black australorp Myrtle, and my blue copper maran/amerucan mix, Olive, I realize that at some point, they will be going to the butcher. My Delaware hen Daisy, I could take that darn bird to the ax man tomorrow if she wasn’t such a good layer! Anyway, I’m confident that you did the deed as you are coming into being a fine farmer, rather than a petting zoo keeper.

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