Wednesday 15 July 2020

Bantam Cockerels - Butcher day

##### This post contains pictures of dead animals ######

This year we've been using the incubator lots, it's hardly been off over the last few months. Now that means we've got a fair few birds running around the place.

Unfortunately we've been a little unlucky with our hatch ratios - not the best rates, but also so many more cocks rather than hens. The first batch we ended up with 13 chickens and turns out that only two of them are hens - and bantams at that! 

The group has been getting pretty "fighty" with each other as they've got bigger, big squabbles and birds not wanting to go into the coop at night.  And lets just say that the dawn chorus is basically a load of teenagers fighting over who can crow the loudest with squeaky voices! 

So today we had to decide what to do with them. There isn't much meat on a bantam, some of these are crosses from Seabrights and Seramas so pretty much as small as chickens get.

But I did think it would work well as a good teaching tool for the children. The meat is such a small quantity that it won't matter what it looks like when they're finished. Also with the small cavity their little hands would be ideal for gutting them! 

They loved the idea and the fact that when we cook them in a few days time they will have a bird each and be able to eat them caveman style! 

Now I'm not sure what we got out was worth the effort we put in but the children certainly learnt a lot and I know they're looking forward to their meal. One bird only weighed 340g when dressed out! But five angry little guys less in our flock and they all seem a lot calmer down there now! A few more to sort out yet, but this time of year it's hard to rest them as we have to use the fridge. 

We also set to moving the youngest batch out of the brooder and onto grass. Down to just 7 chicks in this pen they will live for a few more weeks in the old ark I did up a few months ago before progressing into something bigger. 

The children got this pen ready for me, all cleaned out with fresh shavings, clean water and food. I love putting animals out for the first time. These guys seem to be loving it and were picking insects out the grass within seconds, we sat and watched them for ages. 

A poultry type of morning! We also put half a dozen duck eggs into the incubator! And I doubt that will be the last hatch this year! 

Anyone else take the time to pluck and gut bantams for the table? Or are we crazy? 

Yes it's small amounts of meat but we know they've had a good life! 


  1. Been 60 years since helped Mom dress chickens. Like riding a bike, you don't forget and learned so much as a child. This year is different with interrupted food supply chains. Processed 19 meat chickens in last 10 days. In past years been giving roosters away but now with small ones and bantams will butcher and process for broth to add to soups and recipes. Any meat that can be strained from broth will go in chicken salad or casseroles or chicken noodle soup. Must try Kev's homemade noodle recipe. Extra bonus: chicken soup is great for colds and flu! Stay well. Must teach our children well to be thrifty and wise with God's resources--help and love one another. Stay strong and well all our British friends.

    1. Lovely comment thank you! 19 chickens to process is no small task! I do about 25 a year in small batches around christmas and it is a big undertaking. I love making the stock from them and also the "free meals" I gain from trimming the carcasses, surprising how many extras you get when trimming up that many animals. Mine are too big normally (not these sparrows) to freeze hole so I joint them first to save space.

  2. We have some meat chickens to dress out within the week. I am not looking forward to it as it's 90 degrees F plus a bit--way too hot for this sort of work. I'm glad you are teaching your children how to do these things. We taught our sons and while they've not had to use that knowledge, it's good to know they have it.

    1. I always do my "batch" of meat chickens in Autumn as then I can rest them for 3 days in the shed with no risk of flies or them going bad from the heat. How will you rest your birds? I suppose cool boxes would be another way.
      We struck lucky with these birds as it had just rained so the flies seemed to stay awya until we had just finished - we've had a terrible year for flies and I have to have fly tape everywhere!

  3. I am feeling utterly sad that these living creatures have to die to provide so little food. Each creature on this earth deserves to live out its life, just like yourself.

    1. We hatched them to provide food for our family. The bantams are bred for their eggs, and unfortunately we can only keep so many male birds or it becomes very unfair on the females we keep and makes breeding difficult. Using them for meat, even though only a small amount is the best solution, they have good lives up until this point and had plenty of space and freedom, far more than any commercial or factory farmed birds. I'd suggest that your time would be better spent looking at these industries rather than the small scale farmer. I'd also suggest that this possibly isn't the blog for you to follow. We eat meat that we raise and butcher ourselves and will continue to do so as we find it the most ethical way to provide food, along side the fruit and veg we grow, we eat less meat but better quaility and try to make sure nothing goes to waste. Far more thought and feelings goes into what we do than simply buying it from a supermarket.


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