The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Culling a chicken from the flock

Killing and scalding a chicken

Plucked chickenWe finally got around to killing one of our hens who hadn't laid an egg since the spring.  After a couple of months by herself with top notch food, I determined that she had developed a defective shell gland that wouldn't heal and that she needed to be culled from the flock.  You might be interested in reading my post over on our chicken blog about my philosophy on when to cull chickens from your flock.

Separating the chicken neck from the windpipe and cropI'm ashamed to say that I procrastinated all fall and never put the hen's demise on our list until the end of November.  Those five minutes a day I spent giving her individualized attention and the cup of food per day she ate while laying no eggs really adds up, and I hope that I've learned my lesson not to procrastinate in the future.  After all, it took less than an hour of concerted attention to dispatch, pluck, and gut her.

Disemboweling a chickenUsually, I would turn an old hen into potstickers or another sausage-type dish, but I was a bit worried about the condition of this hen's meat.  As soon as we slit her throat, fecal matter came bubbling up from her crop, and it was impossible to keep the manure off the meat.  I assume there was some kind of physical blockage inside her, which contributed to her egg-laying problem, but I just didn't feel good about eating the questionable meat.  So we cut her into quarters as a winter treat for Lucy, who wants all dog owners to know that uncooked poultry bones are a perfectly safe (and very nutritious) addition to the canine diet.

Having an extra homemade chicken waterer on hand makes it almost too easy to forget about a hen in solitary confinement.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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For those who eat meat, I think this kind of open familarity with husbandry is a beautiful thing. Your chickens have great lives, are killed humanely -- but you're still pragmatic about the whole thing (don't earn your keep and lay no eggs, could be trouble!!) and doesn't look like there is any waste.
Comment by J Sun Dec 12 11:15:17 2010
Thanks! I know that the images and idea can be offensive to some people, but I think that understanding your livestock and your food is worth the initial shock. I appreciate you taking the time to chime in (especially since you agree with me. :-) )
Comment by anna Sun Dec 12 15:44:12 2010

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