Saturday, May 10, 2014

When chickens stop laying - what to do

When your chickens stop laying:  Do you prefer to butcher them and let them serve another use, or do you prefer to allow them to continue on as pets?

If you choose to butcher:  Do you prefer to do it yourself, pay someone else to do it?? 

Here in our family, it has never really become an issue of raising an animal and then having a case of "the guilts" and being unable to follow through.  However much of that has been due to the fact that our animals (cattle, sheep, pigs, rabbits) have always been taken to the meat packing plant to be processed out, or to someone else who would be willing to do it as in the case of the rabbits because it was too costly to take to the packing plant.

When it comes time for me to make the decision for our girls to either be put to another use or kept as pets, I will most likely choose to put them to another use.  I will need to learn to process them either way, and it seems like a shame to let good meat go to waste if they were to die of natural old age.

Mom & I were discussing all of this earlier today in fact, but I didn't know how to phrase things, and also didn't think anyone would actually hear me if I did put this out there.  I am currently considering the idea of learning to process chickens etc. well enough that I could potentially make money at it.  Traveling around to this farm or that in the area and helping to butcher out the birds as needed.

There are two problems with this idea though. 
  • I have never butchered them out 100% start to finish. 
    • I've helped Amish ladies do it from the beheading part on, using the scalding method, but never all the way through.
  • I do not have a chicken plucker.  This is of course not a requirement but, it would be a lot easier to do the "dirty work" if we had one.  
    • I've found plans for my husband to make one, pieces can be purchased through Amazon, or a step-by-step book on how to make your own, and all of the parts to do it with, can be ordered through the author of the book.
On Craigs List there was an advertisement for a man who travels around doing just this, but is from the Lansing area, so although there is someone in the 3-hour radius vicinity who already does it, if I did follow through with this idea, I don't think I would be too much competition for him.

The issue with doing things like he does:
  • I don't want to copy him.  Copying always leads to problems.
  • I believe he charges too much to do this service for people.  
    • He charged a set fee ($85 to even just start his truck.  $5/mile after 10-miles, and $2/chicken 6-weeks & under, $3/chicken 6-weeks & over.) 
    • I'm thinking more along the lines of $20 - $25 to start the truck, $5/mile after 10-miles, $2/chicken for standard 6-week old, $3/chicken for larger breeds, up to $5 per bird if they're especially difficult? I don't know.

Thanks to Mindie Dittemore for helping me get over my "writers block" through her own post about this topic.

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