Here are a few things we learned the hard way:
- Roosters are heavy so if you are hanging your bucket, make sure you have it attached securely. The first (lighter) rooster was fine. The second, larger rooster broke the bucket handle.
- Obviously roosters are physically different from chickens. Hopefully I will not have to butcher any more roosters, but if I do, I will try to find more specific information about butchering a rooster versus of a hen.
- Also something I didn't expect was the temperature. I've cleaned many fish over the years, but they are cold blooded. That whole chicken from your meat market is cold too. I wasn't prepared for skinning a freshly killed warm-blooded animal. So if you are doing this for the first time, know that the animal is still going to be warm.
- Lastly, our roosters were a year old which made them way too old to be decent broilers. We skinned the roosters knowing we would have to boil the meat. The meat was even tougher and darker than I expected so we opted for a recipe that involved shredded chicken.
As for the three younger people, they seemed to take everything in stride. We explained the roosters had enjoyed their life and lived in much better conditions than the chickens that supplied our local grocery store. We explained that their aggressive behavior was getting worse and that in order to keep our kids and other animals safe, we felt like it was time to say goodbye. The kids were very curious about skinning the roosters and processing the meat so in addition to not being wasteful, there was a short anatomy lesson. Then for dinner we had Buffalo Rooster Bombs that were a hit.
In the end, I think I took it harder than anyone. I had raised both birds since they were little more than a day old. That being said, I understand it was a necessary part of not only raising chickens but eating meat. The whole process makes you so much more aware of where your meat comes from and more importantly, the cost of that meat. I think that is a lesson everyone should learn.