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Mumsnet does not check the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you're worried about the health of your chickens, please speak to a vet or qualified professional.

So who keeps chickens to eat?
22

ingles2 · 23/03/2008 09:15

I've been keeping chickens for quite a few years now and even though I've raised plenty of chicks I've not yet managed to kill a bird to eat. Infact when we've had chickens who are ill I've had to take them to to the vets to put down.. 35 quid a go..
So this year I've decided I am going to raise some birds for food
Any advice or tips please.

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throckenholt · 23/03/2008 09:27

apparently the best eating chickens and laying chickens are different breed - so research it fisrt.

And maybe practice killing and preparing one (maybe a layer) - just to make sure you can do it - before you invest in any new chicks.

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ska · 23/03/2008 10:00

you need to go on to poultry site and look for table birds although Francine Raymond eats the few birds that die naturally (old age). I did consider this but dont think the kids would eat anything they'd cuddled. we are not tough enough. let is know how you get on as i think that ethically it is the right thing to do

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ingles2 · 23/03/2008 10:11

I don't think I want to eat the birds that die naturally either, they can last quite a few years and I imagine they're pretty tough.
I was just reading this months country living and the lady from providence farm says there isn't really a good table bird (one that isn't bred to be abnormally large) and to try and buy fertizlised eggs from a commercial table bird. Not sure how I'd go about finding these eggs.

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WelliesAndPyjamas · 23/03/2008 10:11

Yes, throckenholt is right, you need to have a different breed (although didn't know they were called table birds, have always called them meat chickens ). They tend to be bigger and plumper... which helps! You will need to face whether or not you can kill one though, and decide whether that is 'worth' the saving you make against buying in chickens from the butcher's or whatever.

We have killed some of ours once they have stopped laying but being smaller older layers, they just made a fairly nice chicken stew. No good for roasting etc.

We are planning on getting in a batch of table bird chicks once the spring arrives here. Fingers crossed, not too long now [sigh].

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belgo · 23/03/2008 10:15

I have friends who eat their chickens. They send them off to be properly slaughtered.

Dh tells me that when he was a child,every spring they would be given a baby rabbit from neighbours. Then approximately 6 months later they would have to give it back to the neighbours who would then eat it

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belgo · 23/03/2008 10:18

sorry if that story was inappropiate

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WelliesAndPyjamas · 23/03/2008 10:19

lol those were damn clever neighbours

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Loshad · 23/03/2008 10:26

We have culled the odd bird who was clearly ill or whatever - I hold, DH wrings neck - very very quick, but we find it very traumatic (what a pair of wusses). however we must have a cockerel cull soon and we doi intend to stew the victims afterwards - seems silly not too, and rather a waste.

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ingles2 · 23/03/2008 10:36

See I quite like the idea of raising them, then sending them to a poulterer to dispatch. I've googled this but can't find one.

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Loshad · 23/03/2008 10:42

don't you think that would be more stessful for them though, transporting them and all the vileness of abbatoirs. to be fair i did ask my vet about that because we really don't like doing it, and the next door farmer, and both said the abbatoir would die laughing if I went in with half a dozen birds

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ingles2 · 23/03/2008 10:49

youre right Losh. I wouldn't want them to go to an abbatoir. Did you see that Hugh FW chicken thing? He had a mobile man who came and shocked the birds,then slit their throats and it was really quick. I need one of those.

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ingles2 · 23/03/2008 14:48

does anyone know of a course where you can go and learn how to slaughter your birds? Have been searching but can only find looking after your chickens not how to dispatch them.

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TheDuchyEggOfNorksBride · 23/03/2008 15:20

Hugh Fearnley has a fairly good description of how to despatch and then draw a chicken in The River Cottage Cook Book.

DH or I both kill our own, we also do a fair number of pheasants that visit us from the neighbouring estate. I usually hold the body under my left arm with it's feet in my left hand and it's head hanging downwards and then wring it's neck with my right hand. When it goes crunch, you're done! It'll need to be hung by it's feet and it's throat slit immediately to bleed it. Preferably over a bucket, though I do mine over an old butlers sink in the laundry. And pluck whilst warm if you can.

We tend to kill several in one go (not in sight of each other) so that the messy work is confined to a day and then freeze them. Drawing a chicken is quite easy as most of the guts come out in one go.

Hugh will no doubt wax lyrical about eating the head and feet but I don't use anything except the liver.

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TheDuchyEggOfNorksBride · 23/03/2008 15:25

As for breeds, Light Sussex and Wyandottes are excellent, especially if you're breeding your own as the hens are good layers and the boys make good table birds.

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ska · 23/03/2008 16:24

you ar every brave - i think i'd be a quivering heap tho truly think we should eat our own. will have a good think. maybe you should run a course for us MNers?

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geekgirl · 23/03/2008 17:05

we used to kill & eat our cockerels - the complete book of raising livestock and poultry has very detailed instructions on dispatching and drawing chickens (and other animals!).
To be honest though it was always such a messy, sad and lengthy job that we gave up and just buy freerange chickens in Waitrose .

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ska · 23/03/2008 17:52

that's why I'd like a course - to see and learn it. we have the book but cant bring ourselves to do it

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ingles2 · 23/03/2008 19:19

same here Ska....
I would just like someone to show me once so I don't make a horrible pigs ear of it.

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honeybrown · 23/03/2008 19:24

Is she getting enough daylight. I understand that she needs about 14 hours a day to lay regularly (that's if she isn't broody/having a moult).

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honeybrown · 23/03/2008 19:24

Duh - wrong thread - just ignore me everyone....

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MehgaLegs · 31/03/2008 14:02

lol honeyb.

We have always eaten any roosters from a hatch in the past but have never specificall y bred for meat. We are just about to start. I am currently awaiting the arrival of two dozen Sasso eggs to hatch in my incubator.
These will be for meat.

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DragonPeaHead · 31/03/2008 15:36

lol about paying £35 to kill a chicken. Sorry but your vet must love you!
We raise chicks, keep the hens, eat the males at about 20 - 24 weeks.

We do as norks says - quick break of the neck, draw and hang it for a bit, then pluck it. We tend to do one at a time, as we want to eat them (they need to hang for 1 - 3 days, depending on the weather though, otherwise they are too tough).

Ours always have dark dark leg and thigh meat like pheasant and make the most superb stock!

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