My heart rate is still elevated, even though I killed my first rooster more than half an hour ago.
It was the second bird I’ve ever killed. Growing up in the city, they don’t teach you this kind of thing, but they should.
We bought eight chicks about six weeks ago. 4 Buff Orpingtons and three Rhode Island Reds. We ordered all females, but if you don’t order a “sex-link” breed, it’s a crap shoot as to what you’re getting. They tell you that they can tell with 90% accuracy.
So, we ended up with one rooster. Here’s a picture I took about a week ago. In the last week I’ve been amazed at how much weight he put on. His rooster-esque features became even more pronounced than in the picture below, too.
We live too close to the neighbors to have a rooster. Even chickens, although it’s legal to have them, I worry that their noise and any possible smell will ruffle some feathers, no pun intended.
Whatever. The rooster had to go.
I called a local feed store owner I know, but he told me that he can’t own roosters, either. There is a local “chicken rescue” and for a $5 donation, they will “rescue” the chicken and either place him in a home or keep him and guarantee he won’t be eaten for food.
Won’t be eaten for food? WTF… we’re talking about a rooster here, not a house cat.
Plus, I’m way too cheap to spend $5 to have somebody come and get my rooster.
I thought about putting him up on Craigslist. At least then he might go to a needy home. But this time of year, Craigslist is flooded with ads for roosters that people are giving away for free, and it didn’t look like there were many takers. Plus– to be perfectly honest– there was a certain part of me that felt it would be a good experience to butcher the rooster, myself. You know… go through the process with a full belly and when I’m not in dire need for a bite to eat, and rather than doing my “dry run” during a grid down scenario when I can’t afford to make a mistake… better to learn by doing, now.
What kind of mistake?
I don’t know. Maybe not knowing how to grip the rooster properly. Or missing with the axe and cutting myself. I mean… you can watch how to do all this stuff on Youtube, but until you actually do it a few times yourself will you really KNOW HOW TO DO IT. Experience is the best teacher.
My wife– while supportive– still felt a little “down” about me killing something that we raised since day 2 of it’s life. But she also understands that six weeks in our backyard is a fantastic life compared to nine weeks in a professional poultry production house where the birds are raised in boxes with no light or room to move and pumped full of antibiotics because they are forced to stand in their own excrement before being butchered, never allowed to free range or know what it’s like to hunt for a worm in the tall grass, like our chickens do.
So, before I describe how it went down, you’re probably wondering about the first bird I ever killed?
It was from the same batch. Three days after we got the chicks, one of the Buff Orpingtons got blocked up and wasn’t defecating. We did all we could, but after a few days she was in such bad shape that the other chickens were trampling her, she wasn’t eating or drinking and she pretty much couldn’t move.
But she was still alive.
I used my machete on her. Picked her up from the empty stock tank we were keeping the chicks in, placed her on a 2×4 and whacked her on the neck with my machete. She squacked and made a horrible scream for life. I wacked her a second time, determined to put a quick end to it. Her body convulsed and in an instant, the chick was dead. It was the humane thing to do.
How It Went Down
When I killed the rooster a half an hour ago, I was dealing with a much larger bird. Imagine a bird about 70% of full size. I’d guess 4-5 pounds with a wing span of maybe 1 1/2 to 2 feet.
For those of you who’ve never done it: You grab them by the feet and hang ’em upside down, then lower the rooster’s head toward a piece of board. They kind of lay their head on the side of the board and are (fairly) still.
Then you bring the axe down.