Yesterday morning I took our first batch of 44 Broiler chickens to the abattoir to go and get...processed. It's been an experience to observe what is accepted practice by the chicken industry.
These are chickens that, if you were an environmentally responsible shopper, you might buy under the label of 'free range'. To get around, they flap their wings while they run to ease the pressure on their legs but because the bones grow so fast, they are weak and the wing tips get damaged which was pointed out to me by the Foreman at the abattoir.
If you buy free range, these are the types of chickens you eat. and if you don't buy free range you don't even want to know the kind of lives those chickens are forced to live. We eat them too and unless everyone radically changes their eating habits, this is what the average chicken has to go through especially if we want to keep chicken prices under R20per kg.
I don't intend on stopping our broiler production very soon but with the facility we have available and a little imagination I'm sure I can come up with a solution where the chickens we eat get to have lived happy chicken lives before they end up on our plate. If I or anyone else can't do that in a viable way then I think we should all start thinking about the real cost of a piece of meat.
I did read an article recently about some breeders trying to breed slower growing broilers. It's a step in the right direction but most people want to be able to buy what they want at the lowest price, regardless of the pain and suffering of any creature or individual along the way. Those things are out of sight and out of mind.
At least in TLC's little corner of the earth, we can minimise the suffering our human presence causes and teach our children about the real price is of what they put on their plate. If they decide to become a vegetarian we'll definitely support them. Now that I'm beginning to see, practically, what it takes to produce different types of food I think it's not unreasonable for us to at least look at slightly scaling down our use of meat products and consider alternative, more sustainable options.
On the upside. Everyone is very happy with our 44 chickens in the freezer!!! That's going to be four meals for TLC! The biggest one was just under 2.5 kg(about 5.5lbs) My workers are looking forward to the heads, feet, intestines and kidneys and actually right now just pulled me away so I can dispense it to them :o)
Lastly, While I was at the Abattoir the week before to make arrangements for yesterday I happened to run into a gentleman who makes pies (which I have also happened to try) and sells them at the local farmers market. He grows all his own chickens for the pies ORGANICALLY! So with the money I saved with these chickens I offered to buy 9 dozen of his delicious pies ( to make it worth his while ;o) and he is coming tomorrow to deliver them and give me a few pointers on growing happier, healthier chickens that are healthier to eat. He also gets his chicken food for less than I do so I'm sure his input will be valuable!
Sorry if the post was a little depressing but it's because the situation is unsatisfactory and we are just beginning down a road to come up with a solution.