Cockerels

chicken run

July 17th, 2012

You may remember that I have some friends close by who keep chicken. A couple of weeks ago it became clear that three of their chicken were growing up to be cockerels, so Mandle tried hard to find them homes. Cockerels and Dartmouth Park don’t go well together, once they start to crow, they wake up the neighbourhood! That’s not the only problem either, cockerels are territorial and will fight each other to death. Sadly, in spite of very good breeding, nobody in London wanted a cockerel, so I was asked round to kill them as humanely as possible.

resting

I don’t have any qualms about killing chicken, but I do take the job very seriously. These birds have been very well looked after, they’ve had a lot of space to run around and they’ve been fed organic food. Mandel handles the chicken on a daily basis, so they are all very tame. The birds were removed from the run, one at a time and I took them out of sight and sound of the others. Amazingly they were very calm and showed no fear – there was no crowing or panic. I dislocated the necks and it was all over very quickly. I did my best to make the whole process as painless and stress free as possible.

plucked

I took the three cockerels straight home and plucked them.  This is easiest when the chicken are still warm, as they go cold (after an hour or so) the wax holding in the feathers sets and it’s hard to get them out. See here for my guide to plucking and cleaning.

egg collection

Kiki did the daily egg collection while I was there – 14 from the chicken and 3 from the quails. I was lucky, I was given some eggs to take home too!

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21 Responses to Cockerels

  1. Good for you…it´s not a nice thing to have to do, but it does have to be done. Anyone who has seen cockerels fighting with each other will understand that it´s far more humane to do the deed as quickly and calmly as possible. I don´t often pluck ours, but I keep a huge pot of water on the boil when I do and I just dunk them in for 1 or 2 seconds and the feathers come out so quickly and cleanly, You are wise not to pluck the wings….a terrible job! How many chickies do they have…that was a lot of eggs. Ours are not laying much at the moment because of the heat and are moulting so look very sad indeed 😦

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks – I don’t have a problem with doing it and in comparison to millions of chickens in supermarkets, these birds had a nice life and stress free death. I find it easier to pluck chicken when dry, so it’s an advantage to do it quickly. I think they have about 16 chicken in two separate runs with houses. They all look in very good condition, but it has been cold and damp here 😉

  2. Lots of lovely meals from those, look forward to seeing what you do with them!
    Cheers
    Marcus

  3. I remember doing egg collecting as a child. Exciting! Must get out into the country… The cockerels look at peace!

  4. Conor Bofin says:

    When I was 13, I had a Christmas holiday job in a butcher in Blackrock, Co. Dublin plucking turkeys. The job involved pulling the tough wing feathers, cracking the knee joints and pulling the feet with sinu attached away from the leg using a hook on the wall. It was brutal work and on Christmas Eve I went home with £15 and cut, infected and very sore hands. When I was 14, I did it all over again. There must be a post in this….
    Best,
    Conor

    • Mad Dog says:

      You’ll have to go back and do it again to take pictures! It’s well worth pulling the sinews out though, there’s nothing worse than a turkey leg you can’t slice properly 😉

  5. Michelle says:

    You are exactly right: “in comparison to millions of chickens in supermarkets, these birds had a nice life and stress free death.” Our unplanned Orpington rooster and several old hens are going to be dispatched next week, so I look forward to see what you do with yours!

  6. ChgoJohn says:

    As a boy, I did far more than my fair share of plucking and dressing foul, though I never performed the slaughtering. I witnessed it and never was there the care you showed these 3 birds. All facts considered, theirs was a good life and humane death. Not bad for poultry in today’s world.

  7. You certainly know your onions in the world of real food. I admire the fact that you walk the walk and really know what you are talking about.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Roger – it does seem like something that would have been very normal not so long ago. Supermarkets have turned food into an unreal commodity with artificially flavours and cooking methods. I have some friends who’d like to shop at the butchers but feel that they’d be out of their depth because they only know flat packs!

  8. Audrey Evermore says:

    Is there a taste or texture difference between the chicken and the cockrel ? The feathers look so beautiful . Do they have any useful purpose once they have left the chicken ?

    • Mad Dog says:

      They were young so no, but generally, once they get a bit bigger, male chicken get tough and need to be cooked slowly as coq au vin or similar. I think the feathers are of limited value in our consumer society. Duck and Goose are prized for duvets and pillows. They’d probably need steam cleaning or similar before using on a bed.

  9. Pingback: Cockerel – pot roasted | Mad Dog TV Dinners

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