How to humanely kill and then dress a rooster
KEEPING chooks is a wonderful thing.
With a little care, they supply you with free eggs and an endless supply of fertiliser - and will save your kitchen scraps from going to waste.
If you've ever bred chickens, however, or bought those fluffy cute chicks before they were sexed, you may have found yourself with unwanted roosters.
While one rooster may be okay (if you don't mind baby chicks and/or don't live in suburbia), too many roosters create problems such as fighting and harassment, which effects the whole flock.
Myocum heritage poultry breeder Lindsay Murray, of Dingo Lane Farms, constantly faces the dilemma of too many roosters - half of all the chicks he hatches are roosters, but his customers generally only want laying hens. Rather than kill all the roosters at birth, however, (as happens in the egg-laying industry), or dump them in a park somewhere (as many local people seem to do), Lindsay believes the best option is to kill and eat them, and to teach others to do the same.
Lindsay offers regular workshops on his farm, which teach chook owners how to humanely kill and then dress a rooster ready for cooking.
It's a concept that takes some people a little aback at first, but Lindsay says it was something almost everyone knew how to do just a few generations ago.
"I feel like it has gone from being a normal part of life when I was a kid to something people see as quite bizarre....a 'how can you do this?' sort of thing,” he said.
There are still people with a genuine interest, however.
"You get people who have very high ethical standards and won't eat meat unless they killed it themselves,” he said.
"Then there are a lot of people who have chickens and they get fed up with having so many roosters but they haven't had the experience to feel comfortable killing them, or they've tried it and it has been a disaster, so they're looking for a few tips.
"I also see quite a few treechangers.”
Lindsay said the workshops helped people get back to basics, and to get in touch with their food and where it comes from.
"People are so disconnected. If you kill an animal and eat it yourself, and, especially if you've reared that animal, it feels very precious,” he said.
"Chicken is so cheap and abundant now. People think nothing of throwing away, say, a chicken leg on their plate. If I serve chicken and someone throws it away I get really annoyed.”
The workshops are also a social occasion.
"You chat while you're going through the process,” he said. "You get to know people and it's really satisfying because at the end of it you have all this food.
"I think it's really sad that modern life has taken this way from us.”
Find Dingo Lane Heritage Poultry at the Mullumbimby Farmers' Market every fortnight from October to February. For more information on workshops, see the Dingo Lane Facebook page or visit dingolanefarms.com.au