Monday, March 17, 2014

Follow through with your chickens

This week my sis-in-law shared this article [You Absolutely Should Not Get Backyard Chickens] with me. I thought it was pretty well written, and worth sharing with you all.

We've had our flock for about 4 years now, and have had chickens come and go. When I first started, I'd sell off my older flock, to someone who wanted cheap laying hens, fully disclosing they had already laid eggs for 2 years. Then we decided we'd eat the non-layer, like our extra roosters and older hens. We quickly discovered that they were scrawny and tough, compared to the VERY yummy cornish cross meat chickens we raised.
Meat chickens, only about 6 weeks old.

Now we retire chickens systematically by butchering them once their laying slacks off, and putting them in the freezer. When I have a few saved up I fill up the stock pot and make stewed chicken and broth. This winter we all caught influenza A, and we were amazed at how much more quickly we recovered while sipping yummy home made chicken broth! It's always hard to decide when it is time to let an old hen go, but this is really part of the whole process here, and we have to follow through.
2011 Fair, T's favorite chicken.

I recently went out and put leg bands on the hens who were no longer laying well (having gone through about 2 molts), so my hubby would know who to take when he had time to work on it. I had to band all of the green egg layers, including a special fair chicken of my son's. I told Tyler about it so he wouldn't be surprised, and he seemed ok with it. Later he went out to do his chores and came back declaring that he'd removed her band. That hen has achieved pet status. :) Guess we'd better name her.

For the record, my kids name their chickens all the time, but it doesn't stop us from eating them. :) Wyatt named the entire meat flock "Wyatt Junior" once. I'm not sure how to take that! All I know is that my kids are really comfortable with where their food comes from. I've heard Emma coo to a soft fluffy chick... "Ooooh, you're gonna taste so good when you get big!" And I think I've shared here before that once Mayda was wearing a chick all around the house on her shoulder like a parrot. When I asked her why she confided in me that "I feel bad for him; he's a fryer."

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