I recently posted about butchering our pet chickens. In my previous post, I focused on nut-and-bolts mechanics of killing them and preparing them to be eaten. In this post want to explore why I killed them and what the experience was like emotionally.
For years I thought it was important that people who eat meat kill and process an animal themselves, so they understand what is happening to the animals they consume. I’m not a vegetarian, nor do I have strong leanings in that direction. I’m a big believer in honestly confronting the consequences of our actions.
Our view of our chickens was always different from other pets, such as cats. We did eventually name the chickens, mostly to be able to differentiate them and talk about the different birds. We never were as emotionally committed to them as we would be to an indoor pet. We agreed early on that we wouldn’t seek medical attention for any of them and, if they were seriously suffering, I would personally end their suffering.
Our attachment to them was probably one step up from wild animals that you’d feed, like wild birds, squirrels, or chipmunks.
My Wife’s View
My wife didn’t share my view of the importance of processing chickens yourself. She was ok with me doing it, but she didn’t participate. She was willing to try the meat produced, which neither of us thought was very good.
I’ve suggested raising animals for meat, such as ducks or rabbits, and she’s never been very enthusiastic. After this experience, I’m not sure that I would be either.
I’m glad I went through this experience, but in the future, I think I’d likely give away pet chickens before processing them. It was a very involved process. As much as I tried to make it easy on the chickens, it clearly wasn’t pleasant for them. Even the chicken that was upset as I butchered the others before getting to her was unpleasant.
It was my first time and I’d get faster in the future, but it probably took me two hours or so to process the three birds, so there’s a commitment there as well.
I’m far more aware of what I’m outsourcing when I buy meat that someone else has processed. This was ultimately my aim, I didn’t intend to personally butcher all animals that I eat in the future.