When we got the chicks a couple of months ago, I bought six pullets (baby hens), and we were given four chicks of unknown sex. I thought two were roosters and two were hens, but it turned out that all four of those chicks were roosters. At first, I thought it would be fun to have a few roosters, but I didn’t realize roosters are not always nice (are real jerks) and cause a lot of trouble within the flock. As the roosters got older, there was more drama happening in the coop. The hens were not happy. Everyone wanted to rule the roost.
As time went on, my thoughts turned to how we were going to deal with four roosters. Did it really make sense to keep them all? When we first started raising the chicks, they were all so cute, and I couldn’t fathom getting rid of or killing any of them. After all, how could you not love those sweet little things? But people change their minds, and my mind started changing when I started getting pecked on the foot when walking in the coop. And then my mind changed more as I saw the hens being tortured. I decided we would kill two of the roosters for their meat.
Then, as summer turned to fall and everyone grew up some more, it was clear that two roosters wouldn’t do. We had to get rid of three roosters. They made it an easy decision for me as I would open the door to the hen house in the morning and roosters would jump out and chase each other around, squawking like crazy. Every time I would go outside, I would hear chickens shrieking like they were dying, and I knew the time had come.
On a humid, cloudy day in early October, after a night of storms, the big day had finally arrived. Now, I had never killed a chicken and had no clue how to do it, so I called in our old farm hand, Sam, who is very experienced with this sort of thing. Sam got everything set up and even caught the roosters. They stood quietly in the cage as they watched us prepare. I had never heard these three guys so quiet, but there was no going back now.
Sam’s method is to chop off the head with an ax, and since this was my first time being involved in something like this, I decided to let Sam have the honors. After the head was off, each rooster was put in a big bucket and then into a pillow case. They were then dipped in boiling water for a couple of minutes to loosen up the feathers to be pulled out. Sam gutted them, and then it was up to me to finish cleaning them inside.
I didn’t have time to cook any of them that night, but the next day, I broke one down and cooked the breasts and thighs. I baked it in oil, vegetable broth and some seasonings. It was tasty but a little tough. I think we waited too long to slaughter them. The next ones will be cooked for a lot longer to get them tender, or we will use them to make chicken stock.
This experience was really inspiring for me. I never thought I would get to a place where I would be okay with even watching the roosters be killed, but it wasn’t as scary or gruesome as I had always imagined. It also makes me feel good to know exactly what I fed them and how they lived. These guys had a really good life, and I am thankful for what they provided us.