Could you eat your own chickens?

Damn meat!

I am not a vegetarian, I grew up eating meat. There was a time when I tried to be a vegetarian. There were many excellent reason; the way animals are treated in mass farming, the damaging effects on the environment of this type farming and the less than healthy meat that is the end result. I knew all the reasons and I did try but I still could not do it. I blame bacon! The smell of bacon was the cause of my high moral vegetarian resolve to crumble. I now like to believe that I am a more conscious meat eater.

Like always money features so strongly in our choices and if I could only buy organic meat I would but it is sadly out of our reach. We do eat less meat and try to make sure what we do eat is a better quality but I am embarrassed to admit that at times when life gets busy the convenience of cheap easy packaged meat in the local supermarket does lead to me having selective amnesia about most mass farming practices.

This challenge to be more sustainable puts the focus back on meat and how it is produced. We really have no excuse to eat meat and not to think about how the animals are treated.

I found these rather cute cartoons and while not all of it applies to all farms I think the idea that mass farming is damaging to land, animals and people is true

All of this brings me to the heading of this blog post. We have chickens. I always thought that they would only be for eggs but if I am serious about being sustainable then we have to talk about eating the chickens too. The idea is not appealing, and Rachel has flat out refused to eat any chicken that we have. Of course it would be easier just to carry on buying free range ( not totally sure they have a great life either) chicken and ignore where they come from. I feel strongly though that part of this challenge has to move us out of our comfort zone and has to make us reexamine things. Beacuse part of what has gotten us all into this mess on the planet is that, for convenience sake, most of us choose not to think about the damage that we are doing. Out of sight out of mind.

I think I am truly a spoilt suburban person who has never had to deal with the nitty gritty of getting meat to my plate. It is only easy to turn your nose up at growing your own meat when your life has been easy enough and you have not worried about feeding yourself and your family. In more rural areas and on small farms chickens are chickens not pets and they serve a function which is eggs and meat.

We are going to have to come to terms with what our choice to eat meat means and if we are serious about trying to be as sustainable as we can. While I can’t have a cow for milk and cheese I can have chickens for meat. This will mean increasing our flock but I think we need to seriously consider it.

Funny when your decision to have a chicken for dinner involves killing one, then you are more likely to make sure that meat is eaten less often, it is not just as easy as throwing it in the trolley, you are aware of the life and death that is part of your meal.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

So could you eat a chicken you had raise?
Have you ever killed a chicken?

12 thoughts on “Could you eat your own chickens?

  1. Bacon? Seriously bacon?! 😛 It’s the one smell that instantly makes me feel ill. Then again, different strokes and all that.

    I’ve known folk that have visited free range chicken farms and gone back to eating the battery chickens on the grounds that they’re all handled the same way, just one is cheaper.

    Had one of those discussions the other day about how once something’s a pet it’s kind of difficult to eat that kind of animal. I guess the most difficult point is drawing a line between animals kept for subsistence as opposed to a pet.

    I’ve done in a chicken before (oddly enough still eat chicken but not red meat). I’ve had chickens raised on the small holding that I’ve lived on for dinner too. I guess it’s a case of making that distinction between pet and dinner. I think the older we get when we start that kind of thing the harder it is?

    • Thanks Robert, I think with only 3 chickens at the moment it is hard for the kids to imagine eating one. I am hoping that as we get more and they get less personal that that change will be easier.

  2. I love the smell of bacon. But then I think bacon can make anything taste better.

    I feel exactly like you, tried the vegeterian thing, but I’m still eating anything, and just feeling guilty about it. Although I don’t like chicken. I do eat it, but I don’t really enjoy it.

    I would like to say I would never be able to kill and eat it, but we once went to an isolated farm. We lived on pap for 2 days, and they were going to kill an impala for us and the workers to eat. Before we went I told them I don’t want them to shoot any animals while I was there, and I was very upset at the thought of hunting. By the 3rd day there I was ready to go and kill the impala all by myself with my bare hands. They did shoot one, and I enjoyed the meat…a lot. And nothing went to waste.

  3. I love that you are taking your choices seriously. Winning the kids over might just be the hardest part of the process. My mother could never eat goat again after the family killed her “pet” to eat it. My grandmother ended up giving the meat away/ trading it because no one was eating or enjoying dinner. So, it might be helpful not to treat them as pets (if your family does) so that the kids see them as separate and purposeful in your life.

  4. No I would not be able to – not because I would see them as pets:
    Firstly, I would not be able to keep them coz I fear that they will peck my eyes out.
    Secondly, I will never be able to catch the thing – for fear that they peck my eyes out.
    Thirdly, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to take an axe to it’s head – it’s beak will probably bounce off and peck my eyes out.

    The idea is great – but your execution will probably be far better than mine.

    I have no ‘guilt’ feelings about slaughtered meat, etc, etc. I just don’t eat the stuff all that often. I personally prefer vegetables and beans, far lighter on my stomach.

    Good Luck to you for the day you need to pluck it!

  5. My father used to raise chickens, keeping us supplied with meat.
    However, we had a rule that we didn’t eat anything that had a name. For example, my father got a couple of sheep to experiment to see if we could also keep those. One of them was injured and my younger brother thought she was cute and named her. The name stuck and somehow she became a pet in our minds and not food. When it was time to kill her, we couldn’t, so we kept her. She went on to birth birth to a number of lambs ( which remained nameless)

  6. I would never be able to kill and eat anything I have raised. I would also not like to expose J to something as barbaric as killing an animal you have raised. He is well aware of where meat comes from, but he does not need to see the animal disappear from his daily life or be slaughtered in front of his eyes. He saw a kitten killed in an accident and was traumatised for months. I don’t want a repeat of that.

  7. Sharon yes the reality is grizzly but it is the reality. We can pretend that meat does not cost a life but it does. Children for centuries have lives in communities where they saw and were involved in the processing of meat. Why should our children suddenly not be able to cope?

  8. I tend to agree Pinkhairgirl… A friend of mine (big meat eater) once pointed out that as he’d never actually slaughtered (or at least been present at one) that it was hypocritical of him to actually eat meat in the first place.

    I think that Damaria Senne hits it right on the head. Once it’s a pet it’s a whole other matter. But if raised as livestock then treat it as much.

    Sharon if J had been raised as a “farmer” it wouldn’t be an issue. Perhaps a case of out of sight out of mind? Or a classic case of “not in my backyard”?

    I prefer to go by the idea of, there are many things I would not like to do, but given the need I would have to. Surely anything else is hypocritical?

  9. I could not eat anything that I raise as a pet. So I think that in a case like this, I would have chickens that are being bred specifically for the pot. Don’t name them, don’t get attached. Damaria’s comment is spot-on.

    I’ve never seen a chicken being slaughtered but I have seen a sheep being slaughtered. I was about 10 or so and we were visiting our family up country who had a lot of sheep. As a Christmas gift (or something) they slaughtered a sheep for our family. I found it fascinating and I LOVED watching it. Didn’t gross me out AT ALL and I could easily eat the meat afterwards. My brother on the other hand went off meat that day and to this day (a good 20 years later) still doesn’t eat red meat. So, I guess you do need to be prepared for the possibility of your kids going “off” chicken if they see them being slaughtered.
    I am not that much of a meat fan and I eat very little meat. I did consider becoming a vegetarian. But I could NEVER give up bacon. Or fish.

  10. We had bunnies when we were childen. My dad bought 4 – pink, blue, green and yellow dyed ones. But they were meant for food and not to pet. So we never did, we understood. Two years later we had 100 cages with rabbits and I even stood by when they were slaughtered. I think I might be able to slaughter one, just from seeing it done so many times.

    I agree with the others. Buy other chickens and tell the children from the start these are for eating and not for petting. Then don’t (pet them).

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