Processing has Begun

Today marks our second day of processing chickens here at the farm. I know some people can get a bit squeamish at the thought of processing animals, and I used to be the same way…but, I’ve gotten over that stage. Now, I’m happy that we are able to produce great, wholesome food where the animals are honored from the beginning to the end.

Brie and I recently had a conversation about the idea of processing and how many people only consider the processing of animals, when really, most food needs some sort of preparation before it reaches your plate…the carrots need to be uprooted, the stem needs to be cut from the swish chard…Processing is all just a natural part of eating food and I’m okay with processing chickens when I know it’s a part of healing the land!

What are your thoughts on processing animals? Is ignorance bliss or are you okay with being a part of it?

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About Jill Powers

Jill Powers

20 Responses to Processing has Begun

  1. Marci says:

    I thought it would really gross me out the first time we did chickens. It was actually kind of neat. We tried to figure out what all the parts inside were…. sort of a science lesson. We have no problems processing an animal.

    • yep! I did it for the first time this year too and got a real charge out of it 🙂 I’m loving that those birds are feeding my family and friends this winter and that the kids get involved with slaughtering too!

  2. ken anastasi says:

    Mr. Salatin please write the book on
    Mark Nolt, please.

  3. Dawn says:

    We process birds for our own table (we have to go through an inspected facility if we want to sell any), and after the first day we ever did it (several years ago), which I didn’t enjoy a whole lot, I’ve come to terms with it – I feel a sense of responsibility to my family, to myself, to the birds themselves – to learn to do this job well and without squeamishness. It will probably never be my favourite farm job, but like so many other things in life, it just has to be done. I always compare it to all the diaper washing that we went through – if you want to have babies and raise them, up there are some jobs that just have to be done, and often – you’ve just got to get over it!

  4. Joann O'Leary says:

    I had a problem with the killing on my first time. I didn’t have any help, so it was simply struggle through it. Over the last few years I have been able to harvest our chickens and ducks. I have butchered many deer and helped butcher a hog last fall. It is certainly not enjoyable (especially doing it all by myself) but I really love the end product.

  5. Don’t discount those swiss chard stems! I have a friend who pickles them!!

  6. Laura says:

    We raise meat rabbits in our “urban” farm. We live in the middle of one of the most financially impoverished neighborhoods in our city, and we slaughtered our first litter just two weeks ago. I couldn’t be there for dispatch, as I have always had a hard time with removing the life force from anything I’ve raised from a baby, but once that was done, cleaning went very well. The first one left my boyfriend a bit squeamish, but he quickly figured it was better than the fates of the animals we buy pre-processed at the grocery store.

    Bottom line, our meat is healthy, our animals are happy and stress-free. The meat we got is fantastic, and now we’re talking about ordering up some Cornish X for next year, if money and space allows. 😀

  7. Leilani says:

    I am questioned a lot on this subject and it is always from people who have no idea what commercial meat production and slaughter is like. They like their neat plastic wrapped packages from the grocery and give no thought to what happens to the animal before they buy the meat. But, in their eyes we are cruel and unfeeling for raising our own meat animals and butchering them. While I do not look forward to the act of butchering an animal it does not bother me and I do look foreword to a full freezer. Our animals are well cared for and humanly treated from birth to freezer.


    • Chara says:

      Exactly my thoughts. 🙂 We treat our animals well and they provide for us too. It adds additional purpose to their lives that might not otherwise be there. We are being good stewards of the food/animals/crops God has provided for us. 🙂

  8. Sherral says:

    I grew up with a dad and brothers who all hunt and process their own meat, but I always tried to stay as far away from all that as I could. In theory, I’m ok with it all; but in practice I know it’s going to take some getting used to. I definitely wish I had spent more time helping my dad and brothers growing up.
    My husband and I just got meat rabbits, so in a few months we’ll get to experience this firsthand. It’s weird to say, but I’m looking forward to it! Not the killing part so much, but the learning how to provide meat for our family and being a little more self-sufficient-it’ll be good.

  9. Lisa L says:

    I was born on a small family farm so processing food has always been a part of my life.
    I dont live on a farm anymore, in fact I live in a small suburban town on a tiny 1/4 acre lot. However, I still raise and grow as much of my own food as possible. I have been raising meat rabbits for nearly 4 decades and the little land I have is fully utilized with vegetable gardens, a fruit garden, an herb garden, several raised bed gardens and edible perennials. I love to cover my deck with pots of fresh herbs and hang grow bags of strawberries from trees. I want my food to be pure and nourishing. Sadly, thats becoming hard to find in stores everymore with the increased volume of GMO tainted vegetables, Gas and chemically ripened fruit and factory style raised meat that was fed a GMO corn diet. I should not need a science degree to read the ingredients of what I’m eating, so for me, growing my own will always be a part of my life.

  10. We have just aquired a bit of land after seven years of renting in the burbs. We plan on getting chickens and rabbits to start. So even though I’m squeamish of the actual process of processing, I’m just gonna buck up and get on with it because I desire the finished product and there is no magic meat genie that will zap the live animal into finished product in plastic wrapped styro trays. We will provide meat for our family and perhaps to some close friends if we have extra. After a while we may look at the hoops that need jumping through to sell to the public.

  11. Most of our customers want a fresh, clean product but don’t want to be involved. We demonstrate our process often enough and usually one or two duck out early. It is surprising how frequently people offer to pitch in and help though.

    The first time or two was rough. Now I’m more skilled and have come to terms with my role as a steward. It’s just hard work.

  12. Mrs H says:

    I think this is one of those instances where we can say that ignorance is just … ignorance … and generally more harmful than blissful, in this case! Processing animals, taking their life for ours, is very sacred and should be respected and understood by anybody who wishes to enjoy the meat. I think you have a great system for processing at Polyface and I appreciate it very much. If only more people understood what it took to get meat on the plate!

  13. Becky says:

    This year, for the first time, I will be part of it and I’m so excited! I have 21 Cornish cross chicks in a Polyface style pasture pen right now and we plan to process them next month. I grew up on a hobby farm and until fairly recently the thought of killing anything horrified me but I’m ready now. I think the disconnect between most people and their food is tragic and I’m proud that I’m working hard to show people that there’s a better way to do things. When I talk about my chickens people are interested and ask questions. If I can change even one mind, then all the work is worth it (having all that delicious chicken is a pretty good pay off, too. 🙂 ).

  14. Josh says:

    Hey we picked up some pastured poultry for the first time from a local farm here, wondering if someone can tell me are they supposed to smell strongly and taste strongly of fish? We were wanting to raise some pastured poultry for ourselves and don’t want it to taste like fish, is this normal? T

    • Brian Friedl says:

      Hi Josh,
      We’ve been raising pastured chicken for over 10 yrs. in the midwest. We’ve never had our chickens taste like fish. Where are you located?

  15. Tammy says:

    I was just curious how the remains of the animal carcasses are disposed of at Polyface? Do you compost them?

  16. Jason Tooke says:

    The picture you took of the processing area, is it new or was this taken at a different location?


  17. Brian Friedl says:

    Both my wife and I grew up in the city and have transitioned to the homestead lifestyle. As a visual learner, it was hard the first time I processed chickens because we were new to the area and I had no one to show me (No YouTube then). One of the mistakes I made was only having 4 to start with. It really takes about 20 to really get in the groove. The majority of our meat is prepared right here on our farm now and the processing part is not only educational but a great indicator of how well our family has done caring for our animals. Anyone who has processed animals for a while can see by the internal organs, how healthy the animal was. This is also a great unifying activity for our family and it reminds all involved that there is a cost of life, work and time. Too many times, people are sheltered from this and it only further encourages the me-centered, entitlement culture that is rapidly spreading.