So, today I took my rooster to a live poultry butcher. If this topic disturbs you, please read no further.
I never intended to keep a rooster in my backyard. But when I ordered 4 chicks last year, 2 of them turned out to be roosters. I found a home for one (he was an exceptionally beautiful rooster), and kept the other as he seemed quiet. At 8 months of age, he apparently had grown into his responsibilities fully and his regular crowing started to bug some of the neighbors.
I could have tried to find a home for Marshall (the rooster), but he didn’t have any exceptional qualities that would make him adoptable. My other options were to just dump him on my mother (she already has several roosters people have dumped on her, though, so that would have been a bit mean, I thought), or to have him slaughtered.
Admittedly, I was curious about whether I could do this successfully. There are several live poultry butchers in Chicago, but the folks in my community of chicken keepers really aren’t sure if it’s OK for us to bring in our poultry or if they have to follow certain rules about what they kill on site. I was going to be a “test case,” so to speak.
I had noticied a live poultry butcher not far from my house and made inquiries (both via a visit and via phone) yesterday if they would take my rooster and butcher it for me. There was a bit of a language barrier as the butcher I met in person when I stopped by was not very conversant in English, and my Spanish is not so good these days. When I called later, I spoke to one of the “bosses” who was also not a native English speaker but seemed to understand me and said it was OK to bring in my rooster.
I consulted my copy of Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens which has a
section on butchering in order to see if I needed to do any preparation of the bird before I brought him in. Per the instructions in the book, I isolated him last night and made sure he had water available to him this morning, but no food.
This morning I bundled him up in a cardboard box and brought him into
the facility. There was a different butcher at the shop this morning and he was very busy serving other customers. This butcher was Muslim and spoke good English. When he was done he opened the box and inquired if I wanted him skinned or not as he took him in the back. About 10-15 minutes later he brought a fully plucked and dressed bird back up front and asked if I’d like him whole or in pieces.
Taking the rooster as a whole bird, he indicated that this bird would be tough, I guess wanting me to realize that I shouldn’t try to roast it. He also gave me the feet. He told me the price for everything was only $2, but I instead gave him $5. To me, two dollars seemed quite low for the amount of equipment and effort involved, but I’m certain that if he asked only $2 he would have taken only $2.
This facility is halal (meeting Muslim butchering standards) and its signage notes that it sells freshly killed chicken (roosters and hens), ducks, turkey, and rabbit. They have live animals in the back, so you can hear the occasional squawk. It’s not a very pretty place, but it is licensed and inspected by the city with the inspection notice prominently displayed. I think they cater mainly to the Muslim and Latino community, as signage is in English, Arabic, and Spanish.
Before I left I noted to the butcher that I was very grateful that he offered this service and that I may tell my other friends with chickens. I’m not certain if the man I dealt with today was one of the owners, but he seemed OK with my comment. I do plan to follow up next week to inquire if it really is OK to refer others to bring in their live poultry and to make sure I am speaking to one of the owners at that time, so I can report back to the local chicken keeping group.
I’m letting the bird rest in the fridge for a few days, per the recommendation in Storeys’ Guide to Raising Chickens. After that, I’ll be looking for good recipes for roosters…and chicken feet. Anyone have suggestions for either?