Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chicken Slaughter 2011

Chickens in the chill tank.
Today we completed our annual chicken slaughter. We killed 80 laying hens and roosters this morning, most of which were about two and a half years old. It was a very quick and efficient process now that we have done it multiple years in a row. Though it is not anyone's favorite job on the farm, it is a very important annual task because we can not keep our flock of laying hens around forever. It is inevitable that laying hens slow down on egg production after a few years and, as a commercial farm, we can not afford to be feeding hens that are not laying enough eggs. We order new laying hens each spring so that we can phase out the older hens in the fall just as these new birds begin to lay. So, because our new batch of chickens is now laying a steady amount of eggs each day, it was safe for us to slaughter the older hens.

The process of defeathering...
A chicken slaughter is a very interesting and detailed process. First, we cut off the heads of the chickens and allow them to bleed out. Then, their bodies go into a pot of near boiling water to loosen the feathers. After, we pluck all of the feathers off of their body as best as we can... this can be a lengthy job. Then the birds go to the evisceration table, where we gut them and clean out their insides. Then they go into the chill tank before they are ready to be bagged and put into the freezer.  

We also like to be able to sell these frozen chickens to our CSA members. We sell them as stew birds because the meat is slightly tougher because they are older laying hens. They are an excellent quality of stew bird, as they have lived on pasture their entire lives. They were wonderfully happy laying hens and roosters and they sure will taste good in your soup!

At the evisceration table...

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