Growing Your Own| Why We Raise Chickens

ChickenRant

It has taken a few days for me to finally cool down after a weekend of abuse about our up coming Chicken Workshop to write this post. Who would of thought that teaching people how to produce their own meat is offensive.

This year Roy and I have decided to start sharing our skills so people can grow their own meat or vegetables by offering short affordable workshops through our farm.  Producing your own food is so rewarding and the taste is unbeatable hands down. With the chicken workshop coming up I thought I would spread it around a little on Facebook to fill the gaps. I got some pretty interesting messages, comments and emails.

Killing animals is a touchy subject and firstly I want to say I understand that it is not for everyone. However if you eat meat I think you should know the process in which an animal is delivered to your table.

At Huthwaite Farm we raise heritage breed chickens which are both for laying eggs and meat. We tend to kill only the roosters and leave the females to live out their lives. Our chickens are free range from the very beginning. We don’t cull the roosters at birth either, they live to about 15 – 18 weeks before they end up in our freezer. I know that my chooks have had the best life, they have 11 acres to cruise around and peck at bugs, scratch up dirt and eat green grass. I spoil them with sunflower seeds in the afternoons while Isla and I watch them hang out. They are loved and well cared for and when they are served on our table we can appreciate them.

One of the most upsetting responses about the workshop was the word ‘humane’. I think no animal should suffer, ever. This means if you are going to provide food for your table then the act of killing must be swift and accurate and cause very little stress to the animal. So finding a way that does just that is how I prefer my animals to die and here at the farm we have our own method which we believe is very effective.

Causing distress to animals is deemed cruel, well have you ever thought about how your vegetables are  treated? Sometimes I think that (some – not all) vegetarians underestimate about the food that they eat. Honestly do you love kale and silver beet? Those poor leaves have been torn/cut off continuously through out its life before it finally gives up on life. No plant should have to suffer like that. What about carrots? Are you ok that they get ripped out of the ground so you can cook them up. They were perfectly happy in the soil.

Alright I may have just been a little bit ridiculous there but think about it. Where does your food come from? How is treated through it’s life?

With factory farming so huge in our country (yes it is) meat is splurged through our supermarkets displayed so nicely. You don’t even have to see that it ever had a head or eyes to look at you! Yeah, that freaks me out a little too. These days at our supermarket (one of the large chains) if you walk to the chicken section for example I can count the cuts of chicken on one hand. Yes we all know about chicken breast, thighs, tenderloins, drumsticks and chicken wings. You can also buy a whole chicken and chicken mince. So where are the rest of the bits?

When Roy and I got married all those years ago we decided to kill one animal to feed 100 people. We had some vegan and vegetarian friends so we made all the food vegan except the pig. We could of chosen to have chicken breast or steaks served but when you think about feeding 100 people we would of had to kill 50 chickens to feed the folks at the wedding. Doesn’t sound realistic does it.

Food waste in our house is very minimal. The only person wasting food in our house is Isla (11months old) who is still learning to eat at the moment. However all her scraps go to either the chooks or the compost. Both the compost and chook poo go back in to our veggie garden which in return gives us our vegetables. The chooks also provide us our meat when we have too many roosters. So when killing our own chickens we are forced to use all of the bird. The left over blood and gizzards gets planted under a tree or two. While the hearts are skewered and cooked while the livers go towards pate. Simple little treats every now and again to look forward too.

With the workshop only a few weeks away I will be surprised to see if we actually fill all our spaces. Lets see if there are few more people out who want to understand where their food comes from and start raising their own meat birds.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

 

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14 Comments

  1. A well written article Lizzie. I recall when I was about 10 years of age, we had cousins visit us from Sydney. They refused to drink the milk, because they saw it come from a cow – as they said it comes ONLY from a bottle! This is a huge problem with society then and now, people do not have to think about where their food comes from. Your workshop is a great concept as many people are opting to have backyard chickens, and this is a way of further benefiting from that venture.
    As for the vegans etc, it seems they fight to support the lovely cute animals like hens, cows, lambs etc.
    My thoughts go straight to just how many worms and insects were killed or tortured in the growing of their vegetables.
    Really people, a little bit of basic respect and good manners is still required, even if you are not speaking face to face with someone.

    Best wishes for your workshop – and yes, we grow and eat our fowls as well.
    Debbie

    • Thanks Debbie for your kind words. We have had people at our farm with kids who get excited about collecting eggs from under hens as who would of thought that is where they come from. The only way is to educate.

  2. Hi Lizzie,

    I for one can’t wait to attend your workshop! I think it’s a wonderful idea and am very thankful to be given the opportunity to learn about such a skill right here on the coast. We hope to eventually be able to kill our own aswell 🙂

    See you soon.

    • Katie I can’t wait to have you here next Sunday, we are going to have such a fab morning and with our two Super Nerds leading us through the process you will no doubt be laughing instead of squirming. See you next week 🙂

  3. Well said Lizzie – you are never going to appeal to everyone so don’t worry about it. I learnt that with the expo. Those that are interested in caring about their food and health and the kind rearing of animals for food will find it an amazing course. You have so much to share don’t let a few people put you off compared to the many you will inspire.

  4. Really good post. We live by killing other things (animals, plants — I’m with you, killing is killing). And I’d much rather have an animal butchered by the person who raised it then in a factory butchery (which unfortunately is where most of my meat comes from). Hope your workshop goes well — it’s a terrific idea.

  5. Our town doesn’t even allow you to kill chickens here. About six years ago they changed the law to let people have chickens in their backyard, but it freaked out people too much to to think someone would be raising them as meat birds. Even omnivores seem to be freaked out by it. Personally I don’t understand them. My mom sometimes raised meat birds, so it all seems pretty natural to me.

    • WOWZERS! Really they have banned killing chickens in your town. I am sure it wont be long until Australia will put some of those silly rules in place we seem to follow stupid rules. Thanks for sharing that Daphne

  6. Wow Lizzie, I am so disappointed that people contacted you like that! I have this conversation regularly because I think people need to know about where their food comes from. I agree that everyone who eats meat should at least understand where it comes from. Why is it ok for someone else to kill it for you, so you can buy it from the supermarket in a neat package, if you don’t want to know about it yourself? What makes those who can kill different to those who think they can’t? People who don’t want to kill animals, meat eaters or not, have no business telling you not to do it, that’s your choice. I think the course is a great idea and I hope you get plenty of interest.

  7. I can’t believe people would do that. If it was vegans, then shame on them. If people are going to eat meat, then this is the way it should be done. And if it was omnivores, then shame on them for being so ignorant. Go you and your chicken killing workshop! There should be more of them.

  8. I am sorry to hear you received such unkind responses to your workshop. All animals die. All of them. The only difference is how they die. They could die of old age and illness, suffering from painful joints and infections and blindness, or they can die in their prime, when they are still strong and healthy, when they’ve had a good life without suffering. Your chickens are so lucky. Even the roosters headed for the oven. Hopefully one day some of the naysayers will realize that humane butchering is kindness, not cruelty.