Tales from the Coop

Saying goodbye... Krista holds our surprise late bloomer of a rooster. We could manage with two, but a third was too much for the harmony of the coop.

Saying goodbye… Krista holds our surprise late bloomer of a rooster. We could manage with two, but a third was too much for the harmony of the coop.

This past Thanksgiving Break we finally dispatched one of our three roosters.  Currently, we have twenty-seven ladies and two roosters.  For weeks we have put off killing our extra rooster and had him in the isolation chamber, so he couldn’t stress out the ladies.  He was the last rooster to begin crowing and he was such a late bloomer he took us and the entire coop by surprise.  We almost stayed his execution if it wasn’t for the need of his isolation chamber for a chicken who is ill and another chicken who has become broody.

Lining it up and clamping it down... Putting the last leg of the table on which will act as a platform for the broody hen and her chicks when they hatch.

Lining it up and clamping it down… Putting the last leg of the table  which will act as a platform for the broody hen and her chicks when they hatch.

Our broody Barred Rock chicken has been nesting in the same box for about two weeks now.  She has about six eggs under her, and we are hoping for them to hatch within a week or so.  Our nesting boxes are hanging on the wall of our coop at about 3 feet off the ground and for the newly hatched chicks we are hoping to welcome into the world it would be a steep drop.  We decided to build a table out of scrap wood today to set under the box so the mama and her babies can walk out of the nesting box and onto the table that we will have wired off for their safety.  It is a crude design made out of scrap wood, but it should serve the mother and baby chicks well until they are ready to flit about the coop.

Almost finished... The table now has a top and I am placing the guide rails on for the the chicks. I will run fine mess wire around the table and attach it to guides to keep the chicks safely in.

Almost finished… The table now has a top, and I am placing the guide rails on for the the chicks. I will run fine mess wire around the table and attach it to guides to keep the chicks in safely.

This will be our first chickens ever hatched from our group. We never had a broody chicken before now.  We were hoping maybe next year to purchase Silkies to help with hatching, but with a broody Barred Rock, this could be what we have been hoping for.  We have heard that once a chicken is successful with hatching chicks, she will most likely become a mother again.  Once the chicks are old enough, we’ll transport the mother and chicks to the isolation chamber where they can be safe together from the others in the flock until they are old enough to fend for themselves.  Thus, our rooster’s stay of execution was lifted and we ended up butchering him.

Making preparations... Here is out setup behind our wood shed. We attached the killing cone to a tree and the had a bucket placed below. We also set up the table, with clean warm water, towels, sharpened knives, and protected the top with clean garbage bags.

Making preparations… Here is our setup behind the wood shed. We attached the killing cone to a tree and the had a bucket placed below. We also set up the table, with clean warm water, towels, sharpened knives, gloves, and protected the table top with clean garbage bags.

We decided to butcher our rooster a different way than we had done in the past.  We bought a killing cone and placed him in it.  WARNING! GRUESOME DETAILS TO FOLLOW.  Next, I used a sharp razor box knife to slit his throat and let him bleed out.  I do not enjoy killing animals, so I attempt to compartmentalize my thinking, so I could proceed with the butchering process. I am sure the more chickens I kill over the years, the easier it will become. At least I keep telling myself that.

My son was not overly curious to watch the event and I almost spared him seeing the entire thing.  I explained to him this is how we get our chicken and for people to buy chicken in the grocery store, someone had to kill it.  I think every human meat eater alive should have to butcher their meal once in a life time.  I think it would give a renewed respect to the animals being butchered as well as make people think about where their food comes from.

Once our rooster was dispatched and was finished twitching, which for me is the worst part.  I removed its head and decided to skin the chicken instead of plucking its feathers.  I heard skinning was easier. Plus, we were planning to can the bird with our pressure cooker and wouldn’t need the skin.  After having done it, I have decided in the future I will go ahead and do the warm water bath to loosen the feathers and wet pluck them.  Skinning took too long hunched over the table, and I believe I could have been finished sooner if I had plucked the bird’s feathers.  I also decided to split the bird near the spine and fold the bird open to remove the gut sack.  I did not like the way the bird looked cut open like this. Having to cut the rib cage next to the spine, I discovered the bird lost its symmetry, so I will most likely remove the guts the usually way of cutting the vent area out and proceeding just below the rib cage and sternum.

Other things I would change is I would lift the tables higher by placing them on blocks, so that I wouldn’t have to lean and hunch over so much.  My back was really hurting after the butchering process.  With the added stress in my system from killing the bird and the below thirty degree weather, a higher table and less leaning over would be nice.

Krista finished cutting our rooster up for the quart size jars.   She then pressure cooked him that evening.  It was quick work for Krista since she had done this before with our first flock.  Next spring, the rest or our Buff Opringtons and Australorps of three years will need to be butchered as well.  They are getting of age where they don’t lay as often and will need to be put down before they become old and ill.  Our one sick bird these past few weeks is suffering from what may be congestive heart failure and we will be burying her soon.  We are using antibiotics with her and at times she shows major improvement and at others she seems a death’s door.  We shall wait and see, but the prognosis is not looking good.

5 thoughts on “Tales from the Coop

  1. Once again “you’ve amazed me”… I used to see my Grandma “wring” there chickens necks and watch them run around the yard for what seemed like forever, to a kid. And have always thought I could NEVER do that to an animal, but if that was the way to feed my family, I guess you just do what you have to do! Good idea to raise that table next time though. 🙂 Merry Christmas to you and your family, and wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year <3.
    BTY.. I'm hoping to get to the "Salem Christmas Show" , and finally meet Krista, and your Son, and hopefully see you again after all these years. ❤
    Love, Aunt (Patty-Dawn) ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Don’t forget you were at our wedding 22 years ago. I am unsure if we have hooked up since. We have seen Sonya a few times at Stephanie’s, but you weren’t there. Tell Krista who you are when you see her. She also reads all your posts on the blog and FB and knows who you are.

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  2. My husband uses a hatchet on our roosters. I don’t do it, but I clean and package the meat to go in the freezer afterwards. My son, who helps with everything else chicken related, does NOT like watching them die. He has helped me raise all our chickens from day-old, even the ones we let our broodies hatch, and he just can’t watch them die. He wouldn’t even eat the meat at first, until I explained that it was better than what happened to them in a factory farm. That our birds had a better life, healthier conditions, and because we knew all about them, we knew we were getting better meat. Now he eats it no problem.

    We skin ours, as well, but I’ve never pressure cooked it. I would be interested in knowing the process on how you did it. We vacuum seal ours and freeze, usually whole for roasting. If I want chicken for different purposes, I par boil and strip the meat off the bone.

    Your spare rooster looked handsome, btw. I love roosters. I would have a whole flock of them if they’d all get along! But no, they don’t!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will tell my wife to post a how to on pressure canning chicken. I was a city boy and the only knowledge I had growing up of canning was fruits and jams. Since we embraced living off grid, we have learned how to do all our own canning.
      Our other Barred Rock rooster is pretty glorious as well. Our Australorp rooster is a beautiful dark green almost black and when the sun hits him, the green in his feathers shine brightly. However, he is molting now and does not look so glorious at the moment. Thank you for you comments.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had an Australorp rooster I raised in a brooder last spring, with some other chicks. He was so beautiful and developed early. I wanted to keep him, but from the first moment he tried to crow, our main rooster saw him as a threat. So did one of the Rhode Island Red hens, and they would spend hours challenging him through the fence separating them. It would have been funny – two grown chickens making such a fuss over a 10-week old baby – except I was afraid they would gang up and KILL him once I integrated the older and younger birds. I gave him to a friend who needed a rooster for her young flock.

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