Thursday, December 29, 2005

Keeping Chickens at Home - OK, I know it's not a chicken!!

Keeping Chickens at Home - OK, I know it's not a chicken!!

Keeping chickens at home UK
One of the pigs (Pork-Chop) wouldn't stop following me around the other day when I was taking some pictures of the chickens. So here's a picture of her. It turned out to be the bread I had to entice the hens she was really interested in. Pigs eh! Only thinking of their stomach.

Keeping chickens at home.

Keeping Chickens at Home - I'm a Pheasant Plucker!!

Keeping Chickens at Home- I'm a Pheasant Plucker!!

Keeping chickens at home UK
Hope you all had a great Xmas. Our Xmas goose was as delicious as ever. Plucking a goose is no mean feat and is not something I look forward to. Unlike a chicken, a goose has feathers AND down!. I think it's their final revenge for me.

No sooner have your plucked out the main feathers, you are meet by another layer of pure fluff that gets absolutely everywhere. I used to be picking down and feathers from every orifice for the next six months!

The first time I kept geese for Xmas, I raised eight of them. One for myself and the rest were for friends and family around the village. I considered myself a pheasant plucker (is that the right way round?) and started plucking the eight geese two days before Xmas. I was still at it on Xmas eve. Never again!

I always 'dry plucked' the birds. That is exactly as it sounds. Plucking the birds very soon after slaughter whilst the birds are still warm and the feathers come out easier. For chickens and pheasants, this is fine and dandy. Not so for geese and ducks due to the extra down.

You can imagine my delight when someone explained to me the quicker and easier way to pluck all birds. Wet plucking! Not rocket science I hear you cry, but the simplest things are only simple if you know about them right? By placing the bird in a container of hot water (80 degrees Celsius) for 30-60 minutes, the feathers almost fly out. And because it is wet, the feathers and down don't fly around everywhere. Brilliant. It took me 1hour 23 minutes this year to pluck my goose (normally takes about 5 hours!!). A new personal World record.

Killing the goose quickly and with no stress involved for the bird is very important. We shoot the birds with a .22 rifle from a distance of about 30ft. I used to chase the birds around to catch them and then break their necks, but I felt this was far too stressful for them and me! Shooting the birds from a distance means they are totally stress-free and not aware of what is about to happen.

I'm often asked how I can kill the animals I look after. My answer is always the same. Knowing they have lived a natural, outdoor life in the sun (and rain!) being fed only corn and grass is important to me. The fact that they taste better than anything you can buy in the supermarket is a bonus. Raising your own livestock isn't the easiest option, but for me, it's the only option. What I find interesting is that the same people who condemn me for 'cruelty' are the same people who buy 'Battery Farmed' chicken and 'Intensively Indoor Reared' pork. At best, these people are, in my humble opinion, a little ignorant.

Keeping chickens at home