Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Culling the Flock

As an urban farmer, the size of my chicken flock is regulated by city ordinance. Most cities with chicken ordinances permit three or four hens per yard, although I'm hoping that number will increase as neighbors understand the benefit of chickens and realize that birds are much quieter than many dogs. But I digress...

Most backyard chicken enthusiasts raise hens for egg production, although some folks keep them just for fun. Here at Red Bucket Farm, our girls are a hard-working component, providing healthy eggs for the kitchen and plenty of waste for composting. Because of flock size restrictions, we're not able to retain the birds who don't produce.

The recent addition of Thelma and Louise, our new Delaware-Buckeye hybrid pullets, forced us to cull the flock. Culling is the process of removing sick, injured or inferior birds. Rhoda, our Rhode Island Red, has been largely unproductive for many months. In addition, Rhoda is mean. She's been a bully for as long as I can remember.

It's difficult to think about where our meat comes from. As a culture, Americans have become so removed from the source of our food that many of us barely recognize that an animal died in order for us to consume meat. I think that anybody who chooses to eat meat should know the source of their dinner---how the animal lived and how it died. We can't assume that a meat animal's life is handled humanely.

Even egg-laying chickens struggle for a decent life. A commercial egg farm in southern Wisconsin routinely gasses thousands of birds after about a year of egg-laying and disposes of the carcasses in a nearby landfill. In cultures where people live closer to the land and their food sources, it is important to honor an animal's life by using all of it's parts in death.

Rhoda died quickly and without distress. We'll enjoy coq au vin tonight and cook down the remains for soup. She lived a good life right to the end.

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