Monday, June 18, 2012

Ginger Chicken Fattening Time & Dinner

This post contains my thoughts and experience of fattening and processing a chicken for consumption. Please do not read if you are opposed to such action or are just not wanting to read about such things. But if you are open minded and care to read the experience and thoughts of a family who did decide to use their dual purpose chicken as dual purpose then read on. I do spare the details of the process since there is a great blog out there that gives plenty of detail and I have linked it for your interest as I have used it as reference for my process.
 That been said...

The time has come to dispatch a chicken.

Poor Ginger is just not laying after her illness. Well, she is laying but, they are all soft-shell.
She also gets a bit under the weather every now and then.
I can't take the stress (emotional or financial) to cater to a chicken that is prone to illness and won't lay on top of it. It has been well over a month since recovery from her last big illness (getting under the weather for a day since then) and the eggs have been all shell-less. Shell less eggs break easily and muck up the coop with stinky egg mess which causes a big hygienic nightmare in the coop.
I figured it would be best for her and us if we just fattened her up and used her for the dinner table so at least her life would not be wasted. Our thoughts are to use our old birds for the table anyways when their egg laying time is up.


I have researched many methods of "fattening" dual purpose birds for the table.
She is a gold-laced Wyandotte.
Take note that fattening a dual purpose bird is different than raising pure meat birds and even different than meat Cornish cross (the kind you find in the grocery).

My experience and Bird is Dual-Purpose.

A common and average recipe goes like this:
2 parts oats
2 parts buckwheat
1 part corn
soaked in buttermilk or fat free milk
Some add hard boiled egg and or sprouts.

Method is to start small and gradually increase over a 3 week period.
Withhold food (water access only) for 14-24 hours before kill.
I will not go into the slaughter process on my blog since there is a great blog I will reference for that.

Here I will just give my experience with the fattening process to the table. Hopefully, this will help you to choose your process or help you to decide if you want to use your dual purpose birds as dual purpose.

For fattening - I would probably suggest the method above since it seems to be the most common used.
My recipe and method is tailored to what I have available and may be a bit complicated but here is what I did.I have several items available so, I am using them.

Here is my recipe.

1 part of following:
sunflower seeds
corn flour
wheat bran
cracked multigrain mix
dry fat-free milk

4 parts rolled oats

1/2 part following
sesame seed
ground flax
crumbled, dried nettle

Mix it all together

1 serving = 2 tbsp mix with 3-4 tbsp chicken broth , I cook it in the microwave till warm and let it all soak up. Cool and feed to bird.

Allow free access to feed and water.
Day 1-3 Feed 1 serving in AM
Day 4-5 Feed 1 serving am and 1 in pm
Days 6-12 About the same mix ratio & add a hard-boiled egg.

AM - the mush mix
PM - a small hard boiled egg all crunched up shell and all.

 She got tired of eating egg after 3 days but LOVED the grain mash every morning.
Starting weight: 4.4 lbs
mid weight - 4lbs 14oz
End weight: 4lb 6oz - thinking this may be because we started using water instead of chicken broth and she got tired of egg and we just did mix in am and pm.

Processed weight: 1lb 11 oz (just breast and rib and mini drumsticks and leg and thigh meat - including bone)
I did not include the back meat since there was just not enough there to bother with. Meat was rich and lean. Fat deposits were not excessive but were also rich in color.

Fattening Conclusion - don't try my crazy method. If I do it again, I will try the recipe I listed 1st and give free choice.

As stated before, I will spare the killing and butchering details as this website is great for that and I need not repeat it.

The Day of the "deed"

My experience:

The morning of the kill, I separated Ginger in a dog travel carrier with lots of fluffy bedding, water and a cover. I left it up to my daughter whether or not we eat her today or wait. She went out and "talked" to Ginger for about 20 minutes and decided that we should go ahead and do it today.

It seems I have more trouble than my 9 year old does with this.

I separated her that morning in a crate with a cover and a fake egg. She sat on the egg and by the time I took her out she was looking a little broody. (maybe that will force broodiness? hmmm...)

My daughter wanted to do the "job" at first but she and hubby just didn't feel comfortable with her being able to handle the blade safely. I ended up having to hold the bird while by hubby did the dispatching. I did not want to do this part but sucked it up and of course ended up with an emotional cry. I can't help it. I still get teary as I write  :'{

 I have a very very hard time with the actual process of taking the life and trying to "comfort" the animal until the life is gone. A very hard time. I hate it . But, I try to make it as quick and painless as possible. Once the life is gone and knowing it will not be wasted - I am able to handle it better.

The scalding was easy. Follow the directions on the referenced bog. Tip - if you don't have a scalder-dunker make sure you have a long handled something to push the carcass under cause it is a bird and will tend to float.

The plucking is OK for me because I just look at the area I am working on and just pluck away. The instructions on the site I linked to are excellent. Makes it easy. If you get a feather that is tough just pull that one out singly with a firm straight tug.

The hubby had to take the head off for me. The gutting took a while as it was my first complete gut job. Although it was easier than expected (I did major in biology in college - lots of dissecting experience).
Once the insides are out, it is just like doing a grocery store chicken with the skinning and sectioning.

I decided to bake since the bird was still fairly young and I have not read anywhere on the cooking of pullets that are dual purpose and the results. So here are mine - too old for the baking. Meat was lean and my birds get too much exercise. The tenders were tender but the rest was too tough for my cooking method (I also cooked skinless). I decided to de-bone and shred the remaining meat for a stir-fry or salad. I suggest that dual purposes be used for soup. Save the broilers for the other methods. We are spoiled here in the US and in our times aren't we?! My great grandmother told me of when she was growing up on her farm. They would eat their egg layers when too old. It was a sin to waste the meat. Before the big meat crosses that die before their tenth week of life - this is the kind of bird that was on the Sunday table.

My daughter's thoughts:

Learned it is harder to dispatch a chicken than thought. Dad ended up doing the deed. She has no problem emotionally - just the physical part of doing the job is harder for her - not quite old enough. She had no problem with the process of taking the life. She loved plucking the feathers.Watching me gut the chicken she says was "awesome". She likes to see how things work. Maybe a future biologist?
When the time came for eating - That is when she had the issues. At first she just could hardly wait to eat it. Then as she took the first bite - she just couldn't do it. She was thinking "this is my bird". She says she doesn't mind the processing part just... someone else can eat it. I asked why the processing was not an issue. She replied that  the chicken was not being useful for laying eggs and should be useful by being eaten. She just does not want to be the one to do the eating.

My hubby:

Glad to say that he was tough enough to get the job done. Also glad to say that he did find the passing part was not easy for him either. He was so sweet to be concerned about my state as I looked away and cried.

Ginger - in memorum

She never laid a shelled egg. Maybe it was the antibiotic, the illness, or just a defective gland. Either way She was a strange but beautiful bird. She was the only one to get sick (3 times in her short  life). She never really hung out with the flock - kept her distance. But, would "cry" if she were separated from them. This happened often as she would go off in her own little world while foraging and find she was all alone as the rest would stick together. She had a deep voice for a chicken and would often look you straight in the eye and just let a simple deep "Boh".
Glad to say she was healthy. Absolutely no parasites inside or out. That eases any concerns about the others. There were lots of future eggs. One that was "toward the end" did not look so great with no yolk and it just didn't seen "right". I am no chicken anatomy expert so I would have no idea as how to check the shell gland.

Family Conclusion:

I can understand why when people get broilers that they do them all at once with a full on outdoor set up and assembly line style process. It took about 1.5 hours from start to finish. Of course this was our 1st.
We respect the life and are of the belief that the life should not be wasted. As stewards of a life we need to give the best possible care and respect to that life.
After all was said and done...
I am not completely sure that we are still not wasting. Yes. The bird was loved, cared for, got to roam and play and scratch in the forest and bathe in the sun.... She had a really good life for a chicken! Yes, we did consume the meat. One less factory bird purchase.
I might feel better about it if I were able to do something with the guts. I wouldn't mind throwing them out to the bears and coyotes but... I DO NOT want he big predators thinking that my property is a place they can find yummy chicken food! 'Y know what I'm sayin'!  - Don't feed the bears (or coyotes or cougars)!
Most of the chicken is entrails, bone and skin. Most of the bird is wasted. I could not imagine all the waste that comes out of the factory processing facilities!!!!

Not sure we will do it again if we do not have to. Even my husband mentioned it wouldn't be so bad to let them grow old and happy. It is a lot of work and a lot of emotion for chicken soup. I don't feel so bad burying them out in the forest to return to the soil rather than landfill them. I would even give them away to someone who would like to eat an old chicken so long as they do all the dirty work.
If you are gonna eat your chicken = 1. do NOT name them & 2. do NOT spend time with them and look into their little chicken eyes and talk to them.

I put the remaining 4 to roost that night. Lovingly told them they were good girls, pet them, and assured them that I will not eat them.

I have joined the Barn Hop #66!


  1. Replies
    1. Oh... not so much. I still am a huge softie. Went in the coop today and talked with the girls. Teared a little. I don't think I can do it again. Now, If I HAD to like if we were starving and such and that was what we had to do I could suck it up and do it but... My 4 girls are gonna be fat old happy chickens. LOL - they all had laid beautiful big eggs bright and early this morning as if to say "look - I am doing my part - don't eat me" and they announced it very loudly for a half hour straight. :-P Thought about raising broilers at one time but... don't think I can handle it emotionally.


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