Tag Archives: animal husbandry


image-300x225 This past season Hubster and I decided that if either of the two roosters we’ve raised decided to start acting overly testosterone driven that they would go to freezer camp before having the chance to attack us.

Well, it looks like we’ll be down to one rooster soon. Amp, as gorgeous as he is and as great of a job as he does, he’s starting in with some nasty habits: chasing girls that won’t let him mount them, forcing some girls away from the feed, following us and grumbling when we let them out, and placing himself between us and the girls. His stink-eye and habits just won’t do.

Now, there will be those reading this that will ask, “Why don’t you just rehome him?” Roosters are not known to be broken of Nast habits once they manifest. Come spring, Amps attitude will be much worse as she hits a natural testosterone high. Rehoming him would only make him someone else’s problem. As far as homesteading is concerned, butchering Amp makes more sense as he isn’t a problem for someone else and we recoupe part of the cost of raising him through providing food for our family. He’s an 8.5lb bird that, if he dresses out to 5lbs, will give us about six meals.

As sad as it will to see him go, it’s necessary. Amp is frightening the girls to the point that we’re losing more eggs than what we should be this time of year. He’s keeping some of the girls from the food to the point that a couple of them are growing very lean. Amp is handsome, but looks don’t make up for being an asshole. Since the butcher isn’t doing up another batch of birds until January, he has until then, unless things get really iffy, at which point we’ll do him in ourselves.

Tough Days Make Us Tough Birds


It’s difficult to live on a homestead. While we don’t slaughter out own birds – yet – the emotions that you go through packing them into the kennels and loading them into the car, driving to the butcher’s and handing them over, picking them up an hour later, and bringing them home to the freezer, it’s a roller coaster ride.

You’ve held these birds in your hands since they were a day old. You fed them, cuddled them, loved them.  You give them your attention, your time, and your devotion. In return they give you education, experience, and sustenance. It’s never easy to see anything come to an end, much less the life of an animal, even one that has been born and raised with the sole purpose of giving your family food.

We’re asked often why we raise our own birds if it is so hard to see them go off to “freezer camp.” There are so many ways to answer this, but it all boils down to the fact that it is by far healthier for us and for them. They have room to grow, are not debeaked, and are not kept in an area the size of an iPad. These birds have been tended to for every wound and illness, from pasty butt to bumble foot, to torn combs. Each rooster has been held, named, and identified as a living being, not a “production unit.”

We eat meat because we are carnivores. But that does not mean we need to become heartless about it. Our current industrialization of animal husbandy that has formed concentrated animal feedlot operations (CAFOs) have let the US become such a heartless, unaware society as to where our meat comes from that many no longer realize their food as once having been a living animals. We, like all homesteaders, fight to close this gap. We long to be connected back into our food chain, giving each animal we consume the best life possible until it’s time for their ultimate destiny as one of our “farm hands.” As a family we’ve decided to raise our own meat birds, buy local beef, and purchase additional meat from the local farmers’ market. Is there more that we could do to strengthen our connection? Yes, but raising our own chickens for slaughter is the first step.

I could wax political and spiritual for hours on this topic. It’s a job we don’t take lightly, raising our own food, but it’s one that we readily take upon ourselves instead of taking it for granted. It is rough. It leads to tears, sleepless nights, early mornings, and deep meditation, but Gods above is it worth it. We know where our food comes from. We know each bird was happy and healthy. We know we are making a difference and raising our children to know where their food – their life source – comes from. I will never give up that opportunity.



Hoping to have this post featured on a blog hop! Check out other great blogs at The Easy Homestead’s Blog Hop on every Wednesday!
Rooster sitting in a barn on a rural farm

The History of the Chicken

When any small fledgling homestead begins the pursuit of animal husbandry the first animal that comes to mind is that of the chicken. While we’re not looking to breed livestock, nor to slaughter them ourselves, we are looking at raising egg layers. While Joe has had previous experience up close and personal with chickens (go ahead, ask him about the odd spot in his eye), I have no experience with the fowl except for cooking and eating them. So, as with any other venture I think seriously about, I’ve begun researching everything that is chicken.

For starters, I never really thought about the fact that even chickens were at one point a wild fowl that had to be domesticated to end up where they are now. Like many other animals that have been altered due to selective breeding through domestication (such as cows and pigs), chickens have undergone their own “camouflage” that separates them from their ancient ancestors, but only minutely so. The real reason we don’t see them as ever having been wild is that they’ve been domesticated since roughly 3000 BCE!

The red junglefowl is the to have supposedly started it all. Common belief holds that this cute little bugger was domesticated in India for the purpose of food, decorative uses (feathers), and entertainment (cock fighting). Some researchers place the rise in domesticated chickens to various areas throughout the same time period. China, Malaysia, Thialand, and other areas of Southeast Asia are mentioned as possible starting points for the long history of breeding the birds. The concept quickly spread into Egypt, eventually moving into other farming regions throughout the world, and being brought to the Americas by British, French, and Dutch settlers.

It’s interesting to see that, for all intents and purposes, these creatures are very similar to those still found wild and roaming around today. The differences between the current wild red junglefowl and modern chickens have more to do with size and less to do with coloring. Domesticated chickens, as has happened with other domesticated animals, have become larger in general size than their wild contemporaries. A lot of this has to do with the selective breeding that goes on in animal husbandry. This is the same breeding selection that create the white chickens that Romans used to use for sacrifices and ornamental chickens that the Chinese breed for beauty.