Lesson 464 – A giant male chicken and how to kill a rooster

It’s been a terrific holiday with all my little chicks at home. We’ve eaten great foods, shared stories of what we’ve done since we last got together, and on New Year’s eve we watched the entire fourth season of The Big Bang Theory.


But now it’s time for the chicklets to get back to their schools and for me to get back into my routine. This being a new year, I have some exciting plans and some new goals. I’ll be sharing these with you as we go on because after all, the best way to be accountable of your actions is to declare to others what it is you hope to accomplish.

Before we get to my first goal, I need to make a small digression. Some of you may remember the fuss I made about chickens not being fully represented at nativity scenes. I went on (and on) about how there were very few chickens and never any roosters. One of my gifts on Christmas morning was this lovely little collection:

The fact that the rooster is absolutely huge in comparison to the lamb and the Christ child just begs for a really obvious non-delicate comment (which trust me, all four of my teenage boys each quickly figured out) but let’s just say that as one who, although not entirely convinced it exists and yet who is not willing to take the chance of forever burning in hell, I’ll just leave it at, “who knew that baby had such a big male chicken.”

Okay, now that that’s done with, I have a call into our local Police department (and it has nothing to do with our family being completely sacrilegious.) Two of our chicks from our incubated eggs this spring are roosters and as we all know roosters, like fences, do not make for friendly neighbors.

Over the years, many of my readers have asked me how to dispose of unwanted roosters (a flock does not ever need more than 2 roosters even if your goal is to hatch chicks), my usual responses include Craig’s list, emailing a “chicken list” of like minded friends offering it to them, and finding a slaughter house. I also point them to this video which shows how to ethically harvest (kill) a chicken.

To be honest, I have not been able to watch the entire video (who are you kidding, I still cry at Old Yeller) but Marc and Trevor have. Trevor is our outdoor woodsman who sees no problem hunting and trapping animals for food. When done with respect and for a purpose, he sees the killing of an animal as a natural process.

Trevor and Marc want to ethically kill the roosters (we have a neighbor who is willing to take the body to cook – there is only so much I am willing to allow.)

The question though, is whether or not this is allowed. I don’t want to write about ethically killing a bird and then be reported for animal abuse (which I could be if I tried to“ethically” kill a dog.) But then chickens are considered livestock and not pets (but don’t ever tell Simon and Morganne that) so there must be different laws on the matter, right? Even though this entire discussion is turning my stomach, as one who writes about and holds workshops on chickens, I think that I should have the answers to some of these questions.

Which is why I’m waiting for the call (and to our town police – you can take as long as you like in getting back to me.) If you are going to raise a flock of chickens you are going to have to some day be prepared for either an ethical death or a harvest. I’m willing to find out the information and how to proceed on it and Marc and Trevor are willing to actually preform the act (while I stand in the bathroom, fingers in my ears going la,la,la,la,la.)

I’ll be keeping you posted on this one.



Filed under Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Roosters, Teaching kids, The Family, The kids

6 responses to “Lesson 464 – A giant male chicken and how to kill a rooster

  1. Do you want me to tell you how Mrs. Zarelli used to kill her chickens? I was the unfortunate 7 year old who witnessed that mass slaughter and wouldn’t eat chicken for at least 2 years after.

  2. Rosemarie Rung

    Wendy, I think it might be cool to render it brain dead then do a dissection so your children could see the anatomy and physiology of its body. Then when one gets sick, it may be easier for them to know where the liver is, heart, stomach, etc. Make it a science lesson!

  3. We humans are becoming confused about whether we are omnivores or not. We were visiting our neighbor (a Boy Scout leader all his life) and he was showing our granddaughter many interesting artifacts he has collected over his life such as agates and other minerals, fossils, Sioux Indian gear (his father was 1/2 Sioux), and then we got to a rattlesnake skin. My 7-year-old granddaughter was fascinated. My wife asked, “Did you kill the rattlesnake?”

    He answered, “We often had them around the camps. Of course, they presented too much danger for the Boy Scouts at our camps, so I had to catch them and kill them.” He then demonstrated (without a snake, though he did have a skull) how he would catch the snake with a forked stick.

    At that point, my granddaughter was so grief-stricken at the thought of killing a rattlesnake (and she is rather afraid of the harmless garter snakes who live around our house) that she began to cry. Of course, then we headed back to the house where we had ham for dinner.

    Humans are rather confused about our identity, especially in comparison to our history, where life (including human life) was regarded rather callously.

    I eat meat without qualms, but I wondered if perhaps humans who are so distressed at eating meat should perhaps genetically modify themselves to have chloroplasts inserted into our genes so we could generate food by sunbathing like a sunflower.

  4. diane foss

    Wendy, I wouldn’t do it either, but I do agree that it is a natural process. If Marc and Trevor can “ethically” do it, that’s great. However, you could go and have a good stiff drink somewhere so you don’t have to be around it. I think that is a natural process too!!! Diane

  5. Sarah

    I thank you for this. I’ve always been interested in raising my own food, be it veggies or beef, so I’m looking for humane slaughter methods. It looks like “the deed” was the hardest part, or at least it would be for me, but after that its just food, its not a living breathing animal, and that makes me feel better knowing it is that quick and they don’t suffer at all. For people who find what she does inhumane, they should go visit PeTA and get back to me, lol. What I’m saying is, I have seen chickens go in much more traumatic and horrible ways. You could see that chicken was completely comfortable and accepting of what was going on. My mother on the other hand, I tried telling her how ethical the slaughter was and she went back to referring to PeTA and that we didn’t need to eat meat (complete proteins are actually better than meat, in my opinion, I always get more energy). That may be true, but I could just write a book on how you can’t live off of home-grown veggies and save money and I think its more complicated. But I will be growing veggies too.

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