I’m a softie when it comes to animals. I guess I get it from my momma. She’s a huge animal lover. Having said that, I also know that God placed animals on this earth for a reason. A very good reason at that.
I love being able to walk to our chest freezer and pick up a pound of deer burger, pig sausage, or wild turkey breast whenever I need it. I am so thankful and appreciative for my hardworking husband for spending his early mornings/late evenings hunting for us and for God giving us these animals. I cannot remember the last time I bought ground beef from the store and for that I’m thankful. The only meat I typically buy is chicken. Until this weekend.
If you follow my blog, you know we went to the Mother Earth News Fair in Asheville this past weekend and had the opportunity to sit in several classes. We’ve been wanting to raise chickens for meat, but as you know I have a big heart. I guess I’m not bothered by the other animals that are stowed away in my freezer because I didn’t kill them. I didn’t have to. If we raise chickens for meat… I will.
After sitting in Joel Salatin and David Schafer’s live chicken processing demo class on Sunday it was an eye opener. I’ve never seen such pretty naked birds. The thought of birds suffering throughout their life or the thought of sometimes seeing sunlight saddens me. Chickens are meant to be able to run free and stretch their wings. So what if I can raise a bird on green pasture, eating bugs, having dust baths, and foraging the way God intended them to? I’d say that’d be the perfect life for a chicken. Not to mention being slaughtered humanely versus the unethical methods commercial processing plants use.
The chickens that are put on our store shelves are hung upside down in shackles then stunned. They stun the chickens to keep them still to allow the machines to cut their jugular. While stunning them keeps them still it also hinders them from bleeding well and causes them to clot around the bones. After reading this in Joel Salatins’ “Pastured Poultry Profits” I could recall seeing those dark spots at the joints of birds that I had fixed before and I buy “all natural” “hormone and antibiotic free” chicken. I thought I wasn’t buying into that crap.
After the birds are eviscerated they are put in chill tanks where fecal matter develops at the bottom of the tanks. The chicken that sits on our store shelves ready for purchase absorb this “fecal soup” (as Joel states in his book) due to their soft muscle tissue. About 9% of these birds weight are just that, fecal soup. After enduring all of the filth they take as many as 40 chlorine baths in hopes to rid them of the scum.
I can’t believe that this is okay to sell to people.
Daniel and I decided we want and will give our chickens the best life we can provide them. Breathing fresh air, hunting bugs, roaming on green grass and living as natural as possible. And after they reach full maturity (this varies between breed) we will slaughter them the more humane way as Joel demonstrated this past weekend. This is the ultimate contract between chicken and homesteader. To give them the best life and them give us the best meat possible. I can feel at ease with this decision versus supporting the alternative.
Thank you Joel Salatin, Mother Earth News, and “Pastured Poultry Profits” for opening my eyes a little bit wider.