• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Respectful harvest of chickens

 
Michael Radelut
Posts: 203
Location: Germany, 7b-ish
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul, you mentioned in Podcast 025 that you wanted to set up this thread, so I thought I'd go ahead,
because I was reminded of a video from Austria that shows a different approach to the one you describe.



 
James Stark
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm going to play devils advocate on this, not to be a jerk, but just to see if anyone else has heard the same as me with regard to the practice shown in the video. Here's the theory (makes pretty good sense to me too):
When you catch a chicken, it's reaction is to try and escape. (naturally) By tucking the birds head under it's wing, you create darkness, and a chickens instinct when it's in the dark is to freeze to make it even harder for a predator to see it with the predators already compromised eyesight. We all know chickens aren't too bright, so it's reasonable to think that you can fool a chicken into thinking it's dark, simply by making it dark for the chicken. The swaying doesn't really do anything other than create the illusion of "hypnotizing the chicken" and passing the time for us while we wait for the chickens instincts to kick in. So really, the bird is not any more calm, and just as frightened, but it's acting in a way that it thinks will protect it. The ruse (IF it's a ruse. I'm not convinced either way) is further illustrated by watching the video carefully. Notice that as he takes the chickens head from beneath it's wing he is very careful to keep the birds head covered. As soon as he exposes it to the light, the bird gets up.

Sorry to be a downer, but I'm programmed to question everything. Heck, I found natural growing by questioning typical farming practices. That's how I found you guys!
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
pollinator
Posts: 1401
Location: Midlands, South Carolina Zone 7b/8a
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Time is always a big factor in growing, harvesting and preparing our food - at least it is to me.

When it comes time to slaughter I don't want to spend a lot of time doing it - but at the same time I don't want the animal to be frightened.

I have two important considerations when I slaughter:

1.  I don't want another animal to see the kill.  People have told me that the other animals aren't smart enough to know what is going on.  I think that is an arrogant assumption.  We are animals and I certainly know if you are sitting next to me and you get your head sliced off.  I may not react but I know it is happening.


2.  The animals need to be tame.  If the animal is tame, used to petting and being handled it will trust me no matter what I do - whether I use a killing cone, pruning shears or a hatchet.  I have made the mistake of not taming the animals on my last two batches of chickens and I regret it.  The birds were frightened and it was traumatic for both me and the bird.  So I guess you have to spend time on the front end (raising them) or the back end(slaughtering). 


I would like to find a guillotine contraption that I can use sort of one handed.  anyone know of such a thing?
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
James Stark wrote:
I'm going to play devils advocate on this, not to be a jerk, but just to see if anyone else has heard the same as me with regard to the practice shown in the video. Here's the theory (makes pretty good sense to me too):
When you catch a chicken, it's reaction is to try and escape. (naturally) By tucking the birds head under it's wing, you create darkness, and a chickens instinct when it's in the dark is to freeze to make it even harder for a predator to see it with the predators already compromised eyesight. We all know chickens aren't too bright, so it's reasonable to think that you can fool a chicken into thinking it's dark, simply by making it dark for the chicken. The swaying doesn't really do anything other than create the illusion of "hypnotizing the chicken" and passing the time for us while we wait for the chickens instincts to kick in. So really, the bird is not any more calm, and just as frightened, but it's acting in a way that it thinks will protect it. The ruse (IF it's a ruse. I'm not convinced either way) is further illustrated by watching the video carefully. Notice that as he takes the chickens head from beneath it's wing he is very careful to keep the birds head covered. As soon as he exposes it to the light, the bird gets up.

Sorry to be a downer, but I'm programmed to question everything. Heck, I found natural growing by questioning typical farming practices. That's how I found you guys!


i agree
 
                                    
Posts: 59
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
South Carolina wrote:

I would like to find a guillotine contraption that I can use sort of one handed.  anyone know of such a thing?


Could you adapt a guillotine style paper cutter?

We have one in our office that I was looking at the other day, contemplating whether or not it would work for the 25 Cornish Cross chickens I got last week, when they are ready end of July.  Ours has about a 16" blade, but only a relatively narrow platform about 4" wide.  I don't know if it is really a paper cutter, its the same otherwise except for the narrow platform, whereas most office paper cutters have a board that is either standard or legal sized to hold the paper.

 
                              
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
South Carolina wrote:
I would like to find a guillotine contraption that I can use sort of one handed.  anyone know of such a thing?


SC,

I've seen one pictured in the "Have More Plan" book. I don't know if they still make them, or where to get one though.

chicken guillotine.jpg
[Thumbnail for chicken guillotine.jpg]
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Maybe if there was a trough of feed at the "head" of the board, she would be so occupied she wouldn't even notice the blade.
 
                              
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is another wall mounted type. It doesn't decapitate, just breaks the neck and spine. http://www.chicken-house.co.uk/acatalog/Wall_Mounted_poultry_Dispatcher.html It seems like it is only sold in the UK though.



Joseph
 
                              
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In my search for humane chicken dispatching devices I ran across an automated harvester used in some large-scale commercial poultry operations. It isn't supposed to kill them, just catch them. Evidently this is "state of the art" technology. I've seen claims that it reduces injury to the birds (!?) and produces less stress (?!?) and the finest quality meat (hmmm).

Here is a video of the large whirlygig machine scooping up chickens, flushing them down a conveyor belt and then shooting them into small cages.



http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=45a_1203619739

Joseph
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
LMBO!! ive seen it all now. a chicken vacume.  i wouldnt have believed it if you had given a link.  id say those claims are nothing more than that....claims.....
 
Brice Moss
Posts: 700
Location: rainier OR
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
wow!

the shitty bit is that that is probably actually less stressful than the current method of sending a gang of illegals who are paid less than minimum wage if they take the time to be gentle (companies get away with this by paying for it as piece work)
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If they are being paid piece-meal, they are NOT taking time to be kinder.  Simple math:
If I get paid 50¢ per bird, if I can zip through 100 birds per shift, I make $50.
If I am slow, methodical, and careful, only 50 birds/shift, I only make $25.
"Outta my way, a-hole!  I'm in a hurry!"
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19832
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hugel,

Excellent video on the chicken trance thing.  Fascinating.

In other news:  I will be seeing alexia allen on friday and she mentioned harvesting another chicken and I will try extra hard to not lose the video this time.

I think it would be good to get a podcast too. 

Anybody have questions for her or have things that you think should be discussed?

 
nancy sutton
gardener
Posts: 596
Location: Federal Way, WA - Western Washington (Zone 8 - temperate maritime)
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Oh great!  I hope you can film the cleaning and plucking also... I enjoyed Jocelyn's description, but video woud be terrific.
 
                              
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul,

Could you perhaps ask what her experience is regarding harvesting a chicken in front of other chickens or other livestock? Does it affect the "survivors"? Should it be avoided? Does it matter?

Thanks,
Joseph
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
The egg farm I worked on (seasonally) in South America would cull about 9,000 hens per year.  They never did it near the working girls.  The culls were taken to a special shed, and let loose on a well "grained" floor.  One of the kids would chase them one at a time through a rubber door into the "Marie Antoinette" room where an assembly line took them through the entire process.  No living chicken saw a dead chicken, nor the process.
 
James Stark
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My laying hens are free range, and have the run of the entire property. When we are harvesting the meat birds, the layers always stay close by just in case a scrap of meat should fall off the table. They smell blood and think food. They are impossible to chase away, so I stopped bothering, and they see the whole process and just hang out waiting for a treat.

That said, the meat birds never see what's going on. You never know. Maybe the hens just don't recognize that the meaties are also chickens since they are so different. I figure better safe than sorry, so harvesting out of sight is how I do it.
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
both my chickens and rabbits get butchered in site of everyone else.  the free ranging fowl all stand at attention waiting for handouts. 

once again, im of the opinion we give animals, human thoughts and emotions.  perhaps they do know whats going on. im sure they do.  but come feeding time, when that white bucket comes out, they seem to forgive and forget.
 
mike morris
Posts: 5
Location: Rheenendal, South Africa
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Joseph wrote:
...harvesting a chicken in front of other chickens... Does it affect the "survivors"?


@Joseph,

I can't speak for Paul, here, but my own experience is that, as soon as some chickens are headed for the chopping block, the rest of the flock knows exactly what is going on. (And they scatter!) As a result of the behaviour I've observed over many years, I take good care to remove the culls well in advance of the event, and to make sure that, as far as possible, the rest of the flock are unable to observe the proceedings.

Can't speak for "other livestock" -- don't have any.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19832
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Alexia Allen of Hawthorn Farm is a wilderness skills instructor who also has a small farm in Woodinville, Washington.  I thought she did a really good job of demonstrating a respectful harvest of a chicken.

"I usually like wearing pink when I do my butchering.  It makes me the angel of death.  I have come to this process of killing animals with this sense of being almost a midwife?  Or at least when I teach people about butchering chickens I want to emphasize It's not about being brutal or macho, it's really about 'hey, you kill things and eat them.' That's part of how the world seems to work.  I didn't make up how the world works.  It just seems to be what needs to happen whether it is a chicken or a carrot.  It's just a vertabrate bias that might make a chicken seem different than a carrot."




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_S3P0eU0lE
 
Lee Einer
Posts: 169
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
paul wheaton wrote:

"I usually like wearing pink when I do my butchering. 


Ahh, Jeez, now Susan B Komen's gonna sue for sure.

This is a great video, I have a friend who has purchased some live chickens and is going to do a first time slaughter, I will e-mail her this youtube link.

 
                              
Posts: 17
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Anyone notice how she covers the eyes of the chicken and it "calms down"? Didn't the other video of the "hypnotized" chicken also involve covering its eyes?

I'm starting to think that theory posted above that a chicken freezes at night is correct, and the eye covering tricks it into nighttime mode.

 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I always make sure my rabbit kits are used to me touch so they are calm when I kill them.  I do remove them from the Doe and move them to a completely different area than where my does live.  I agree about covering a chickens eyes to calm them down before killing them.  I think that if they are calm at death they taste better.  No adrenalin to alter the taste.
 
                                                
Posts: 43
Location: 14519
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've seen Grannies grab a bird and give it a swing and a twist & in about 5 seconds the bird is dead. A close friend use to work at a polutry processing plant handing turkey's for the slicer they flopped all over as the hung by their feet.
As a hunter , I want my game dead ASAP~ When I slaughtered my turkey's some years back they got a .22 to the head. 

Now I have ducks and they are a paranoind a guy who just finished a joint comming up on a traffic roadblock.
Their is no way I'll get close to them for a fireside chat.

I think if you want to reconsile your guilt, grab them at night when a chicken is naturally turned off. A quick tuck under your arm and a twist and it's all taken care of in a few seconds. Then cut the head of.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
i agree with blackpowderbill, if you just do it at night they don't have a single clue whats going on. its like they are in zombie mode and the job is easy.
 
T. Pierce
Posts: 254
Location: Virginia
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
many animals will calm right down when their eyes are covered.  horses are one of them.  not voodoo,  or a big secret, just the way it is.
 
Joe Skeletor
Posts: 113
Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My two cents about the recent video (respectful harvest 1 of 2)...

When we've culled birds, we use a killing cone and slice both jugular veins. If you do this they bleed out and die much quicker than the single cut. I've seen the few times where a co-worker only did the one side and didn't do the other because of the convulsing, and it seems to take them another 10 or 20 seconds for their eyes to glaze over and die. Slit both sides of the neck for them to bleed out in 3 or 4 seconds.
 
Jordan Lowery
pollinator
Posts: 1528
Location: zone 7
12
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
so i was out in the garden and a chicken was out by herself so i moved her with the rest of the group. anyways before i put her back i tried the method in the first video of the chicken trance. needless to say it takes a little practice but it does work.
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19832
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Part 2: Butchering the chicken.  Mostly fishing out the guts and and getting the chicken ready for the soup pot.

First she cuts off the oil gland.  Then she cuts off the feet. 

Next she opens up the chicken and starts us on the tour of chicken parts:  We see the crop, the gizzard, the esophagus, trachea, the vent, lots of excellent yellow fat, "tubes inside tubes", ovaries, liver, heart, gall bladder loaded with bright green bile.

This hen found some windshield glass and was using it in her gizzard.

The leftover guts (offal) go to the compost bucket.

She likes to suck the raw egg yolk from the unformed eggs.  Nature's high protein juice box!

She also shows how to process chicken legs for the soup pot.  It adds gelatin!




 
Lee Einer
Posts: 169
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
1) James Beard said that in olden days laying hens were sold for poaching with the unformed eggs inside as an extra tidbit.

2) If you remove the neck skins of poultry like a sock rather than slitting them the long way, you have wonderful little sausage skins that you can use to make poultry sausages. It's a German thing.
 
Shawn Bell
Posts: 156
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My six year old son and I just watched the "clean out" video.  He was ok with everything but the feet.

Thanks for these two videos Paul, they were great.

However, I will skip wearing pink when I harvest our birds.
 
Joe Skeletor
Posts: 113
Location: Blue Island, Illinois - Zone 6a - (Lake Effect) - surrounded by zone 5b
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

2) If you remove the neck skins of poultry like a sock rather than slitting them the long way, you have wonderful little sausage skins that you can use to make poultry sausages. It's a German thing.


That is awesome! I am going to try this soon.Thanks -Joe
 
James Stark
Posts: 79
Location: Manitoba Canada
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Although I think this lady is a kind, and well intentioned person, I don't think her method for killing chickens is kind. It is like so many other things that we do to make ourselves feel better by giving human attributes to animals. When she feels the chicken "relax" what is happening is that the bird has become aware that it cannot escape, and so stops struggling. Anyone ever see a dog/fox/coyote catch a chicken? When you chase the offending animal away, you will see that the chicken will continue to lie there, even though it can now easily run away. It is an instinct to freeze, but this is not relaxation. The animal is not calm, it is simply giving up the struggle to escape, in the hopes (there I go humanizing with an emotion I feel, but don't have any way of knowing if a chicken feels) that by freezing it may survive.

The kindest way we can kill an animal is by doing it quickly. Hands down. Don't pet it, cradle it, talk to it, apologise to it, or try to comfort it. Just do the task you have set out to do in a quick and efficient way. The suffering the animal goes through is fear. (Cutting the jugular is the most painless way to kill BTW. Ever cut yourself with a very sharp knife? You don't even feel it. The chicken won't either, it will pass out in mere seconds due to blood loss, and when they start to "struggle", they are already unconscious or dead) Breaking the kneck at the end is also unnescessary, but doesn't do any harm.

Just a penny or two from me.
 
John Polk
master steward
Pie
Posts: 8018
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
269
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
James nailed it plain and simple.  When you cut the jugular, the bird will pass out within seconds, but the heart will continue pumping until death occurs, thus effectively bleeding the bird.  If you merely chop off the head, death is instantaneous, and only a small portion of the blood will drain regardless of how long you let it hang.  The jugular method is easier on the bird, easier on you, and produces a superior end product.  If you chose, you may thank the Lord (and/or the bird) for providing this fine meal.  And, remind your family/guests to save their forks if you have pie for dessert.
 
Dave Bennett
Posts: 686
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just put a pair of scissors back together after having altered both blades into knives.  They won't work as scissors any more but the stainless steel is of excellent quality and it hold a super sharp edge.  I now have a "knife" that will do both sides at once that has handles to adjust the width of the blades since not all poultry has the same size necks.  I will let you know if it works well or not.  I sure hope it does because if not I wasted a pair of really good scissors.

I somewhat disagree James.  If you tuck a chicken's head under it's wing it will "freeze" but it is not excited with fear.  You would be able to feel the heart racing if it were.  When I kill my rabbits I make them calm before I do the deed.  My rabbits are a very calm breed to begin with but carrying them to a "new" environment does rev them up a bit.  There is always involuntary nervous reaction after the fact but they die very quickly and without pain. 
 
Caleb Larson
Posts: 76
Location: Missoula,MT
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
By far the best chicken harvesting and butchering tutorial I have seen.
Thanks Paul
 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19832
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Here is another interesting view of butchering:



 
paul wheaton
master steward
Pie
Posts: 19832
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
bee chicken hugelkultur trees wofati woodworking
 
                            
Posts: 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
hügel wrote:
Paul, you mentioned in Podcast 025 that you wanted to set up this thread, so I thought I'd go ahead,
because I was reminded of a video from Austria that shows a different approach to the one you describe.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-y7vHNyhVc


as other comments have stated this is not a chicken "trance" but is simply a manipulation of the chickens instincts, it is still terrified, and what ever you do to it, how ever you butcher it, you are still taking its life when it is unnecessary. it should certainly be obvious to those on this forum that all the food needed to sustain our lives can easily be derived from plant life, also the human digestive system is not even made to eat a meat based diet. killing an animal when it is unnecessary can never be done "respectfully"
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic