River Cottage Australia

Raising and Processing Animals for Consumption

Paul West gets some tips from the experts on how to humanely raise and process his farm animals and the benefits of utilising rooster meat for the kitchen.

Chris Franks is a farmer and quality control officer at the Bega Small Animal Abattoir.  Chris has been a farmer for well over thirty years and has a passion for raising his own animals for consumption and advocates consumption of locally sourced produce.

Chris visited Paul on the farm to help him through the slaughter of roosters for the table – and with a lifetime of experience to impart he was the right man to guide Paul through the process of killing and cleaning the animals as humanely and efficiently as possible.

The roosters Paul and Chris despatched for the table were a Silver Laced Wyandotte (the speckled rooster) and a Leghorn (the white rooster). Both animals were raised and bred by brothers Peter and Ray Ubrihien, legendary breeders of heritage chickens. Peter & Ray also provided Paul with breeding stock in the form of the black Australorp trio made up of two hens and Ron the Rooster.

Roosters are sometimes wrongly thought to be tough and stringy however there is very little difference until the birds reach sexual maturity and even then, if cooked properly they can be flavoursome and delicious. Most chicken meat that is sold commercially is female and a large number of roosters are regularly discarded by the egg industry as surplus to requirements.

There are many ways of utilising roosters for the table one of which is the traditional French dish Coq au Vin that Paul cooked up for Chris Franks. Coq au Vin translates literally to ‘Cock of the Wine’ but a more accurate interpretation would be ‘Cock cooked in wine’. There are a number of regional variations on this dish within France and the offal is a prized component particularly the livers, hearts and feet - all of which were used in Paul’s version.

It’s important to remember when slaughtering or gutting a bird that the organs are removed, saving the heart, liver and gizzard for use in the dish.These are known as giblets. (Note: Paul did not use the gizzard in his dish.) It’s essential that the crop is removed as this holds remnants of what the bird has been eating including its digestive juices which can contaminate the mea

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