One Last Meal


A common practice when butchering chickens is to not let them eat any food for twelve hours to a full day before you butcher them. The reasoning is that you want their digestive system to be clear of food when you butcher them, so it’s easier to process them. But birds have a high metabolism rate and not being able to eat for so many hours is distressing.

I find it gentler to let them eat uninterrupted, and spend a little extra care and time processing them. The big bulge on this unfortunate rooster is his last meal. When chickens eat, their meal first goes into their crop, a sack at the bottom of their neck. They can stuff a large amount of food in their crop. Then, at their leisure, they will digest their meal.


On a lighter note, I took another picture today of this young chick waiting quietly as its mother lays an egg. The chick is nearly the size of its mother. Even a bird with a small brain is capable of needing love and giving love.

Also see You Never See This on a Regular Egg Farm.

4 Replies to “One Last Meal”

  1. This is the main reason I did not butcher my extra drakes this fall. They went to a large garden where they are on slug patrol. I could not resolve the dilemma of starving them of food and water. Everything I have read or heard indicated you needed to keep them alone and empty for 8 to 12 hours. So, do you have to do anything different processing the bird to account for the full gizzard?

  2. I find removing a full crop easier than an empty one, because when it’s full, there’s something to grab and pull. I’ve never found their gizzards to be very full. The main concern is the intestines, but I’ve done so many roosters and hens, that it’s not difficult to remove them intact. The main thing to do when you open the rear, is to carefully cut around the cloaca to free it from the body. Once you do that, you can cleanly pull out the entire digestive system. When I first started processing chickens, and seeing how they come apart, it was like they were designed to be easy to butcher.

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