Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homemade Chicken Soup part 3

We processed our chickens a few days ago--Friday actually. We took pictures and video, but they aren't going to be added to this post. When Roger gets a chance he'll edit it and try to get it put together and uploaded so that you can see how we do it. We'll load it as a video so that you have to play it if you want to see it. That way if you aren't interested in seeing the pictures, you won't accidentally see them. And it will all be posted as a separate post from this one anyway so it's safe to keep reading.

The chickens were almost 7 weeks old. As soon as they hit 6 weeks, they started dieing one by one. They'd just be dead in the morning as if their little hearts just couldn't handle beating anymore. "Autopsies" of the ones that we processed showed them to not be terribly healthy. If we didn't process them when we did I'm sure we'd have had many more die on us. The trouble is, they only dressed out at 2 lbs each. It was hardly worth all the time I put into raising the little pigs and certainly not worth all the grain they ate. I could have bought chicken at the store for less.

Ok, but home grown chicken should be healthier because of all the grass and bugs they eat. And tastier, too, right? Not this breed (Cornish Rocks). We've raised several different breeds now and they all ate the grass and the bugs. They scratched at the ground. These things just sort of sat around all the time. They walked around some, but never really scratched like chickens are supposed to do. As a matter of fact, if their food fell out of the feeder, they didn't eat it. It's not that they like things clean though because they would sit in the feeder and poop in it and then eat their feed anyway. It's just that they had none of the normal chicken instincts to forage for their food. I was very disgusted by these birds that don't deserve the name bird. I called them our pigs. But I imagine that's somehow insulting to pigs, too. I don't know since I haven't ever raised pigs. And taste? They didn't taste any different than what we bought at the store. Kind of blah tasting chicken. Well, call them pasture fed all you want. Just because they live in the pasture doesn't change the fact that all they eat is feed. I don't see how these are really any different than what we buy at the store. I believe it is this breed that is used on the factory farms. They've been bred to have lots of white meat. Well, they do have that.

We've raised other breeds as meat birds before and if we ever do this again it will be one of those breeds. Right now I'm thinking we'll just wait until our layers are too old to lay anymore, then we can put them in our soup.

We still have a bunch of chickens out there that are the same age as the ones we just butchered. They are delightful to watch. They seem to run around and play. They scratch the ground and forage for their food. I put their feed in the feeder and they ignore it while they try to catch whatever insect is nearby. They act like chickens. These are Buff Orpingtons which are my favorite breed. Hopefully we'll have lots of eggs in the Spring.


Audrey said...

I cant wait to see your "footage". I spent a few hours the other day on you tube and other online sources trying to find a good chicken butchering resource, but really didnt find anything.

Do you think that a 2+ year old bird would be to tough to eat? Our layers are about that age and its time to thin them out for the winter.

Mo said...

ah really, should have raised ostrich, the only animal in the Bible that is called stupid. You have to get the eggs out of the pen or the adults will step on the egg or the babies. They have a lot of eggs & high mortality rate due to the adults stupidity.They are born smelling like poop straight out of the egg, it takes coment to get off the smell or wear gloves. They are totally nasty. They are constantly looking for a place to die, adult males if spooked will actually run into a post and die. If you get in the pen with a male bird he will try (and possibly succeed) kill you. Anyway the meat tastes like beef and is good, very lean. Oh yeah they poop like a cow and I am totally thankful they do not fly!

Melissa Nelson said...

Audrey, we've made soup out of older birds. I just put the whole bird in water and boil it away. If it's still too tough to eat after that (which it has been) then we don't. But they make a really really good broth. But it might not be too tough after a good long hot bath. ;-)

We thinned a flock one year and were surprised to find yolks and even eggs inside of them. Great learning experience!

And Mo, what can I say? You crack me up!