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Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

Slaughter day
January 19, 2014

The slaughtering went fine, but was very time consuming. I got a late start and was about 10 minutes late arriving. The manager had me waiting for over 30 minutes before he would even speak to me, then he reminded me I was late when I chided him for the long wait. Every time, he has to remind me he is a Vet. What that has to do with the situation?  My dad was a Vet, so is my sister as was my (ex) husband. Anyway, I left the slaughter house and found my not-so-local bank where I got cash so I could pay the fees. I waited for over 30 minutes (even tho' I called to find out if the birds were done) before the manager brought my chickens out. I had taken in four bags of ice, but I don't think all the ice was put into my coolers. And the manager made sure to put the bag of gizzards on the bottom of the cooler so they would get squashed by the chickens and ice. The guy is a real looser...but I guess that is what it takes to kill animals all day. Someone has to do the job, I just wish he wasn't such a jerk.

I got home at 2:45 PM, just in time to feed. I left my house at 8:45 AM. So, that would be six hours to have 12 birds processed for table. Plus mileage, not to mention the time spent getting kennels ready, loading the birds into kennels and then into the station wagon for transport. On the other end, the kennels have to be unloaded, shavings dumped into compost, then kennels washed and sanitized (disease runs rampant at slaughter houses and transports on equipment). Coolers have to be stored out of the weather in a predator proof area with plenty of ice and then cleaned and sanitized after use. Kitchen counters and sink has to be scrubbed and sanitized, tools have to be assembled & cleaned after use. After all chickens are rinsed, drained and put into vacuum packed freezer bags, all counters, equipment and sink have to be cleaned and sanitized again. This is a lot of work, but at least I am sure where my food comes from!

Today, I sold two chickens right off and got four into freezer bags and into the chiller. Six more to finish up tomorrow.

Weather has taken a turn towards the worst and will continue to get worse over the next week. Rain all day today, temps in the low 40's. At least I can still use the hoses and fill pools for the ducks and water bowls for the chickens. Things are so much more peaceful without those 9 bad boys gang raping the pullets! Flame (resident Americauna rooster, 2 years now on the job) is a much happier guy without all those boys to chase off his girls!  He is almost friendly towards me...he knows I hold the corn container and sidles up to me, cocking his head. I throw four or five pieces of whole corn down and he clucks to the hens so they know he has treats...and he shares. Before the 9 bad boys were gone, he didn't want to share.

The 9 bad boys did their damage to the new pullets. I went out last night to check the hens in the yard where the 9 bad boys were. I discovered two pullets with tears in their backs from aggressive roosters. I treated the wounds.  Tomorrow night, a friend is coming over later in the afternoon and he will help me treat the wounds again and put duct tape saddles on these girls to protect their backs while the wounds heal. Many feathers are broken on several of the pullets, they will have to have the quills pulled so new feathers can grow over the next months. I hope I can get next year's bad boys to slaughter about two months sooner than these boys went.

My work has dramatically decreased now that the 9 bad boys are gone. They were housed in three different condo units (without any pullets to rape) every night. Three extra feeders, houses to clean, open and close at night. And the past weeks, some of the 9 bad boys were roosting in the pullet house and had to be moved out every night. No roosters sleep in with the hens & pullets at night. Flame sleeps on a roost in with the ducks. This way, there is no interruption with egg laying in the early mornings by a horny rooster. The hens are calmer if there isn't a rooster bothering them and there are less injuries to the hens since they don't fly around trying to escape the rooster.

Well, of to bed for me.