Thursday, February 19, 2009

Like a chicken with its head cut off

“The worse part of killing chickens is the reflex reaction that causes them to flap and twitch a few minutes until after they’re dead,” writes Gail Damerow in my new bible, “A Guide to Raising Chickens.”

This thought has sustained me, “I’m raising eggs, not chickens. I will not be butchering chickens.”

I'm changing my approach. For the best investment, it’s practical to slaughter layers after 8-9 months. Because I'm planning a small backyard operation, I may learn to kill chickens to eat them.

The easiest way is to break its neck.

With Reliable Bob at my side and some coaching, I birthed four big babies, without anesthesia.

With Reliable Bob at my side and some coaching, I can raise and kill chickens. Raising children didn't end with killing them, although I came close.

Gail reviews killing methods with little emotion: hand, ax, knife, gun. The goal is to keep the meat tender by protecting chickens from stress and fear, by using proper technique.

There’s an intriguing art to killing chickens. I anticipate a satisfaction of raising a tender bird, butchering, cooking and eating it.That's self-sufficiency.

Our affluent society is so far removed from the realities of hunger from bad weather, crop failure, and animal illness, we have the luxury of disdaining the act of killing to eat.

The 12-year-old son of a friend, call him Jim, has been pining to raise chickens. His mother suggested he warm up to it by being a farm hand to my small flock -- when it arrives.

We interrupted his playtime to chat about it. He cradled a plastic gun during our conversation.

“Yeah, my mom said I could have chickens. This is cool,” Jim said, holding the gun casually, like a banana.

“You can keep one or two of your own chickens with my flock,” I offered.

“Sure, okay,” Jim said.

“Jim, will you be able to help kill them?” I asked, as he walked up the stairs, with his plastic gun.

“Oh, no! I could never do that. I can raise them, but I can’t kill them,” Jim said, pointing his gun upstairs.

Hmmm. How ironic. Jim will play with his plastic gun for hours and “kill” his friend over and over, but kill for a meal?

“Do you eat meat, Jim?”


“Then someone else is doing your killing for you.”

No reply.

Gail Damerow prefers to kill the chickens with the bullet of a .22 gun “because it’s fast and clean.”


  1. HA!! Funny. I like the photo of the old fashioned chicken sign.

    One of the more intriguing things I saw in Nicaragua was chicken running around under the restaurant table... followed by a chase, a slaughter, and then 40 minutes later, BBQ chicken being served on my plate. I like knowing where my meal was coming from.

  2. PS. Are you getting a gun? You can practice shooting at the gun club!