Hen weekendRSS feed

Posted: Monday 30 May, 2011

by Rosemary at 1:20pm in Poultry 1 comment Comments closed

No, ah hivnae been up the toon singin,' "Hi ho kick the can". Strictly speaking, it was a poultry weekend but that didn't make such an interesting title :-)

We started on Saturday morning by killing the five 14 week old Hubbard cockerels. I don't enjoy this (if you do, I'm worried), but we do try to make it as stress free as possible for the birds. We give them a good life - twice as long as commercial broilers and they are kept outside, on grass- so we want the end to be as good as we can make it.

This time, Dan cut the ends off a road cone and fixed it to one of the wooden telegraph posts in the barn. Unfed (but with access to water) since the previous night, the cockerels were caught in turn and gently slipped into the cone head first. A single airgun shot to the head, into the wooden pole, to stun / kill, two blood vessels in the neck severed with a very sharp knife and it's all over in seconds. The cone stops any flapping. This time we put a freezer bag over the head to reduce blood spatters. It was as good as it gets - pretty stress free for all of us.

The five birds were hung overnight and cleaned Sunday morning. The cleaned weights were between 3.1kg and 3.8kg with very little fat. The last lot were very fat, but they were winter birds and didn't have as much access to outdoors as these ones. I won't keep meat birds in winter again.

Two batches of a dozen each year are enough for us, along with a pig and a couple of lambs, so I've got another batch of day-olds coming early July which is perfect.

Dan built an extension to the Black Rocks pen. They are hard on the grass, unlike the Hubbards. Next week, they'll get a new pen, with all fresh grass. They seem to be growing fine and are 11 weeks old now, so halfway to laying.

Finally, we caught and checked all the layers. Well, not all - Hector and three hens managed to evade capture but we'll get them next weekend. We were checking for lice and scaly leg. There was very little evidence of lice - a few hens had a few passengers - but we gave them all a dust of louse powder. Quite a few had raised scales, so we doused their legs in surgical spirit and will do them again next weekend.

Oh, and really finally, we put out their new feeder. They started using it straight away. Tomorrow, I'll put the cover on a lower setting then by the weekend it should be working properly. Actually, must go and fill it now.


Cath Livingstone

Sunday 5 June, 2011 at 10:18am

The road cone idea sounds brilliant - I'll give it a try!

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