Simply Resourceful

Simple ways to be more conscious about how we use our resources.

The Decision to Butcher Two Chickens

Picture taken: 4-7-2012

This past week my family butchered two of our golden comets that were almost three years old.  This task has been put off for months because we do love our chickens, and we had no prior butchering experience.  I watched numerous YouTube videos and talked with a friend about the logistics and even lost two nights of sleep thinking about it.  What bothered me most was the ethical decision to end their lives.  These chickens were the start of our homestead two weeks after moving into our home. Not having them here will be the beginning of our final chapter here in West Virginia.  We had the original three golden comets last week and during one of their final free-ranging days, two neighborhood dogs killed one.  I was sad and upset that the chicken probably had a slow death and the meat was wasted.  It was the sight of the dead chicken scattered around the yard that ultimately led to my decision to butcher them myself so their lives would be ended quickly, and we could enjoy the meat.

It was not an easy task, and I admit that I almost cried when carrying the chicken upside down in a feed sack with her head poking out.  Doing the butchering ourselves really raised a lot of questions about our food choices and the disconnect even we feel about our food.  We grow a large portion of what we eat and understand where our food comes from, but actually butchering our chickens for the meat rather than just enjoy them for the eggs, started a new conversation between Jon and I.

I did consider giving the chickens to someone else, but the golden comets have an egg-eating habit and they are major bullies.  The pecking order in our coop has been a problem because one of the golden comets will pin down another chicken while the other two pull the feathers out of her head.  This was a problem last spring and one of the barred rocks was bullied to the point that she was in a failure to thrive state from lack of food and water.  We had quite the challenge keeping the two breeds separate during the cold days when they were not free-ranging every day.  Considering these two challenges, another chicken owner probably wouldn't want to introduce these habits into their flock.

I thought it necessary to include a few pictures of our birds as a reminder to how much joy they provided us on the homestead.

The girls sunning themselves on a warm day.

An afternoon at the spa (aka dust bath).

Land sharks hunting in the weeds.

Paul's pet parrot for his pirate ship.


Courtney Turner January 12, 2015 at 5:03 AM  

I do relate to this post. We have two Rhode Island Reds, 1 Auracana, and this week, 3 other chickens must have been dumped on our road, because they showed up in our back yard and I confess, I've been feeding them. The two Reds are kind of aggressive though have never ganged up that way pinning a bird down and pulling out the feathers. They aren't laying eggs and I'm sure must be at least 4 years old. We got them from a neighbor and they were already a couple of years old at the time, so they could even be 5 years old! While I love watching them, they are brats, and not the friendliest of birds. Anyhow, I've been meaning to blog about the new birds but haven't quite gotten to it yet. Visiting from Maui Jungalow.

About this blog

A weekly update on our adventures of trying to be more self-sufficient by using resources wisely. We explore a variety of topics that most broadly fit in the "Homesteading" category, i.e. beekeeping, organic gardening, edible landscaping/fruit forest, food preservation/canning, woodworking, soap-making, and environmental stewardship.

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