Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Processing our Heritage Birds for Meat

Our flock has grown so big (19 chickens plus 3 turkeys!) and at some point culling is a necessary part of good flock management. It breaks my heart, but it was time to process our extra roosters and our turkeys for meat. As meat eaters, we would rather know where our food comes from and that it had a good life and was treated humanely, even as sad as it is when butchering day comes.

some of the lucky survivors

We decided to process 5 of our roosters that we decided not to keep for breeding and 3 heritage Bourbon Red turkeys.

After selecting the roosters to be processed based on breeding characteristics, we put them into crates and pens for the night. Early the next morning my husband took them to a local processor and they returned to us a few days later.

We chose to get the birds processed whole with one chicken and one turkey left fresh and the rest frozen.

Dominique chicken, male

We cooked the fresh turkey for Thanksgiving and it turned out great- extremely flavorful and juicy! The rest of the processed birds we have in our deep freeze. One bird can make several meals, and the carcass will then be used to make stock. Nothing is wasted!

turkeys and chickens in our deep freeze

fresh turkey ready to roast

Though it was still hard, we did not let ourselves get attached to these birds (maybe except a little to the turkeys...) as we have to groups hatched in the past. Now our reduced flock is much more manageable and we are one step closer to accomplishing our homesteading goals. We are also trying to progress in good poultry keeping and animal husbandry skills. And I can't help but think this is something our farming ancestors would have done long ago, a little differently of course, and that we are continuing some of those traditions :)

Do you process your heritage or dual-purpose birds for meat?


  1. My husband does, I leave that to him. I agree that it's a part of good flock management. You could go in debt keeping everyone forever.

  2. I'm so glad that you use every part of the animal. I feel that if animals are used for food, you should use as much as you possibly can and not waste anything. A while back I decided to only eat meat that I had a hand in how it was raised and treated, but found out that I get way too attached to all my animals and couldn't bring myself to do the deed, so I became vegetarian! Part of me wishes I had grown up on a farm so I would be used to the circle of life and raising animals for food. It would make things a lot easier haha.

  3. The blog was absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!
    Free Online Business Directory

  4. We have done X Rocks and cornish roasters. The cornish roasters have been the best for us. We do about 30 at a time. From chick to the butcher in 6 weeks. There is something very comforting about having a freezer full of meat and I know how it was fed and cared for.