Saturday, 14 November 2009

D Day


At last Sid has judged my Hubbard table chickens fit for despatch. They are 21 weeks old, so about half as long again as I had originally planned. He will be coming round late this afternoon to do the deed. I will not be giving the birds any additional feed during the day, apart from what they forage for themselves,- this makes for a less messy job - and of course water. The weather is atrocious, gale force winds and rain, we will be lucky if they don't blow away in the storm at this rate. After despatch he will hang the birds in his garage overnight, and prepare them tomorrow. As he has a plucking machine he can get through my thirteen birds in a fraction of the time it would take me to pluck them by hand.

I will do a  post on  this whole experience of raising birds for the table in due course, explaining whether I will do it again and what I have learned. Quite a bit will depend on the quality of the chicken on the table - if they turn out to be tough and stringy, I may have to re-think my future plans, but I'm hoping, and Sid tells my they will be, quite delicious, with a better "chickeny" flavour than anything I could get at Waitrose, or indeed, as Sid gleefully says, than the ones they sell for fifteen quid at the local organic farm shop.

I do feel quite sad that the birds have reached the end of their lives, but I will ensure that I complete my obligation towards them by ensuring as quick and stress free an end as possible.  It's not an easy thing to do, when you've raised any creature from day-old to fully grown, but I comfort myself with the knowledge that they have lived a good life,  felt the sun on their backs and the wind ruffle their feathers, and will have eaten as many worms and slugs as any chicken, or indeed any gardener, could ever wish for.

4 comments:

  1. Your chicken for the table experience is very interesting. I have thought of raising some chickens for meat, but my daughter doesn't like the idea. Hopefully, your experience with these meat chickens will help change her mind. Maybe? Are the chickens hung in a walk in fridge overnight? Gutted first? I remember my Uncle cutting off the chickens heads and letting them run around. Then we would put them in buckets of boiling water, pluck them and then gut them. And singe any left over feathers over the propane burner. We used pliers to pull stubborn feathers. And then my Aunt would cook them. This was how we got our chicken dinner. Good luck with everything.

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  2. I'm very lucky to have someone like Sid to help me out with this - he depatches the chickens by hand in the traditional way, hangs them in a large fridge overnight,and plucks and dresses them next day, with his machine, which saves a lot of time and aching fingers! Kathy

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  3. I was taught to dispatch my extra roostersby an old poultryfarmer and although the whole "experoence" was ok....I really dont want to repeat it soon....

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  4. Having done the odd few cockerels myself in the past, I fully understand what you mean John, it's certainly not an easy thing to do, and certainly made me appreciate the importance of making the "end" as quick and stress free as possible. Thank for posting. Kathy

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