Chicken Run! Part 2

So my last post was about how we got 50 new chicks! But now I only have five hens left. 

The plan was to butcher 45 of them on July 26th. So we loaded up the chickens onto the trailer the night before, picked out the chosen five hens to keep alive for eggs, and took the rest of the chickens all the way to the Hutterites at 8 am the next day. 

Turns out we showed up on the wrong day. They were butchering on July 27th. So we turned back around and took the chickens all the way home, to their delight. They spent the day and night in the trailer, all cozy in the straw with lots of food and water. 

The morning of the 27th we got up nice and early and went back to the Hutterites. We were fourth in line, and waited for so long because everyone in front of us had between 400 and 700 chickens. We had our little 45! Everyone else’s chickens were crammed onto the trailer or smushed into little crates. Our 45 had the whole trailer to roam in and straw to lay on. The Hutterites laughed at how luxurious our set up was, but they also said our birds looked very nice. 

We made friends with the Hutterite bossman because Jan could speak low German with him, so he gave us a little tour, mostly because I wouldn’t stop asking questions. 

There was 35 people working on butchering 2400 chickens that day. I tried to help the young boys unload the birds, but really they did all the work. They caught all the chickens (within seconds) by the legs and carried them upside down to a rack where they hook their legs in, leaving them hanging upside down. Then the rack slowly turns to two men who sit on chairs, and the first man stuns the bird with an electrical shock, while the second man cuts the throat. There was a lot of blood, which made me feel sick. 

The rack keeps turning and comes around to a young boy who takes the dead birds off the rack and loads them into a basket attached to an overhead crane. When the basket is full, he lifts the crane up and over to a vat of boiling water. Two men grab the basket, open the bottom hatch and the birds fall into a cage in the boiling water. They scald them for a quick minute or so, and then the men lift the cage out (it’s on hinges like a deep fryer) and dump the scalded birds into a big round chicken plucker. 

A young boy controls the plucker and it spins to remove all the large feathers. He stops it and throws each bird onto a stainless steel table where six women pluck the pin feathers off by hand and remove any remaining bits. 

Then the bare birds go on a conveyor belt to a back room where many men and women cut the legs off and remove the inside organs. Then the birds are washed, inspected by a third party, bagged and frozen. 

They sort the birds with colored flagging and keep your chickens separate from other farmers chickens by storing them in different bins. It’s very efficient and everybody has a specific job. It all moves very quickly, but it pays to be first in line!

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