You may hear the sound of clucking on your next trip to an animal shelter. Aging chickens are reportedly being dropped off in record numbers as urban farmers are faced with the reality of caring for an animal that may live years past when it stops producing eggs.
KIRO Radio host John Curley, who owns nine chickens himself, says you do run into a difficult decision.
“After about two and a half years, the hen no longer lays an egg,” says Curley. “What you’re supposed to do, they will tell you – although nobody will talk about this – you take that chicken and dispatch of it.”
“You flip it upside down and you stick its head through a funnel. You pull it down, grab it by the comb … and just slice its neck as fast as you can,” explains Curley. “You drip out all the blood. Then you throw it into a hot boiling bucket of water, which loosens all the feathers. You dress it and then you eat it. That’s the way it’s supposed to go.”
Curley and co-host Andrew Walsh agree they don’t know too many hipster urban farmers who’d be interested in doing this.
“These are people who got into something and they weren’t prepared for the consequences, or long-term thinking about it, and now they’re just done with their little hobby,” says Walsh. “They don’t want to kill it. They don’t want to take the responsibility to actually do what farmers do, and so they’re just dumping them.”
Only a couple years into his chicken ownership, Curley says he has only one chicken that has stopped producing, Annie, who was one of the original three he purchased. So far, he’s made the decision not to eat of any of his chickens.
“I raised them by hand,” says Curley. “I’m having a great time with them.”
As for all those chickens showing up at the shelters, he thinks another course of action should be taken.
“This sounds terrible, but what they should do at the animal rescue place is take them and make dinner with them,” says Curley. He adds that they could be given to Fare Start or a homeless shelter.
“That would probably be the best chicken meat any of those guys have ever had.”