The other day, we sent off 400-some chickens to a local butcher. We waited until 6pm or so (so it was dark and the chickens were less active), built a bunch of walls in their pasture, and herded them into enclosures for easy catching. They were loaded into plastic frames and loaded onto a truck. After driving to the butcher’s (~30 minute drive), they were unloaded into the chicken houses they have on-site. Today, we got back the shrink-wrapped whole chickens and cuts that we had them make.
I’m not quite sure how I feel about this process. The live birds were packed somewhat tightly into the plastic crates, but I’ve seen them sleep together as tight or tighter than that by choice. Surely the drive was a stressful experience, and I don’t know how they were actually killed. In general, this farm strives to have their livestock be happy and healthy — not only does it help with the obvious moral guilt of raising livestock, but it also improves meat quality. I do know that for the vast majority of their lives, these chickens were in an environment that is much more pleasant than they’d get in an industrial setting. So if you assume that the consumers buying meat from us would buy the same meat elsewhere if we didn’t make it, then we’re doing right by chickenkind. Not sure how valid this argument is.
I would have liked to see the butcher’s shop in action. I’ve never seen a large-scale butcher before. I say large-scale because processing 400+ chickens over just a few days seems large-scale to me. Probably to the rest of the industry, that’s pretty small.