A Dignified Look at Chicken Butchering Day


| 9/14/2016 2:21:00 PM


Tags: chickens, chicken processing, poultry, butchering, pastured meats, Laura Berlage, Wisconsin,

In case you hadn’t heard, Farmstead Creamery & Café is closed on Mondays. We call it the “barn-muckin’ chicken-pluckin’ hay-balin’ day.” Well, today was one of those days in the chicken pluckin’ department — aka, chores-reduction day.

Preparing for Chicken Processing Day

It really starts the day before, when you skip feeding the tractor (movable pasture pen/shelter) of chickens that have grown to maturity, which usually leads to a grumpy reception from the plump, white bodies with bobbing, red heads. “Excuse me, chores-ster, didn’t you forget something?”

Skipping feeding for the day isn’t about me being stingy with the grain. There’s still plenty of grass and clover with the twice-daily chicken tractor move, as well as bugs to chase and catch. Withholding feed is the poultry version of GoLightly treatment before a colonoscopy. It helps get everything cleaned out, which means much less messiness on their big day.

That evening, the lightning flashes, the thunder crashes, and even the National Weather Service calls our house to warn about the storms that rage in a ragged band across the state in a line that reaches all the way down to Texas. Of course, always, right when you first introduce those 4-week-old chickens to life in the tractor (vs life in a more protective coop), something happens with the weather. But now, here we were, one night away from butchering, facing the grips of another storm.

Fortunately, the cooling effects of the Chequamegon National Forest sliced a window of green in the radar rainbow of yellows and reds, and we passed unharmed. No trees snapped in two and no power outages to keep us up all night. The chickens by morning were still eager, dry— and hungry. Sorry about that part, kiddos.




dairy goat

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Aug. 5-6, 2017
Albany, Ore.

Discover a dazzling array of workshops and lectures designed to get you further down the path to independence and self-reliance.

LEARN MORE