We didn’t kill our rooster, but these folks killed theirs. Good for them.

August 5, 2009 | By | Comments (9)

You may remember that we once had a rooster. Nugget. We got him when he was a chick-let, a rescue chicken. We opened our coop and (as much as you really can expect) our hearts to our little fluff of maroon. I held Nugget’s little warm body in my hands and introduced him to visitors at Sunset’s Celebration Weekend two years ago.





Then, the awkwardness of adolescence revealed it unlikely “she’d” ever lay an egg because she was totally a dude. Also, beating up on our other chickens. Even more unacceptable, giving me a hard time, pecking me every time I went into the coop.

And then he started crowing.

This put us on the wrong side of the law, as well as our plan of a happy coop of hens.

We shied away from the idea of killing him, even though Sunset magazine is a premier source for recipes for roast chicken, almond-crusted chicken, chicken stewed with green chiles or green olives, or turned into a summer corn chowder with avocado.

It’s funny: I’m naturally squeamish, so I dreaded the idea of the blood and terror of killing him, but I became the strongest advocate for it. If you are going to eat meat, why not meat you raise yourself? If you’ve got the nerve to eat flesh, why not take a principled stance?

In a last-ditch effort, I even shopped around the idea of feeding him to the alligator gar at the California Academy of Sciences, figuring it would be a relatively honorable end for him. The alligator gar, actually a large, toothy fish, has to eat; he eats chickens. It’s fulfilling the natural order of things. (A colleague’s father-in-law is an ichthyologist there, which is why she suggested it. I didn’t make that up myself.) Anyway, people thought I was a psycho who wanted the rooster to engage in some kind of gladiatorial nonsense. Which I DENY.

Eventually, he ended up going to live in the country, keeping his head, but leaving me feeling conflicted about my love of chicken korma.

Which is why I was so interested in how our colleague Samantha Schoech dealt with her backyard flock. Turns out, her Tilly was a rooster too. And this weekend, her husband and a couple of trusty friends killed him. In their backyard. Tonight, she’s planning to make pozole.



Sam’s blog has a video of the dispatching itself, which I steeled myself to watch. Only it wasn’t that bad. If you’re interested in animal husbandry, I recommend watching it to see if you can deal with the gory bits.

Want more about chicken “processing”? You must also check out our colleague-in-honest-food, Hank Shaw’s blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. (He is a rooster assassin for his Italian neighbors.)

by Elizabeth Jardina, Sunset researcher


  1. Arleen

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    October 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm
  2. Whitney

    LIZ – “While in my mind I know chickens need to die so we can eat them…”

    WTF?!?! Nothing NEEDS to die. They die because there are people who choose to eat them. You have evolved as a human to have a choice – free will – ever heard of it? If you feel bad about killing chickens, think about the chicken – probably a lot less happy about it than you are. Grow some balls (and a heart) and give up meat!

    October 8, 2009 at 9:35 pm
  3. Annie

    I should add that disemboweling an animal ain’t that much fun either.

    August 9, 2009 at 7:20 pm
  4. Annie

    I used to have chickens… until the animal-hater in back of us moved in (he even threw rocks at my house when my cat meowed to come in!). One day one of my “hens” also turned into an aggressive rooster, so my husband decided to dispatch him for dinner… not only was it traumatic for the chicken (I’m sure he knew what was coming), but the stench of blood lay in the backyard for a good 2 weeks. If however you don’t mind the headless flopping, the stench of blood and hot feathers being pulled, nor the work of cutting up a bird with immediate rigormotise, then go for it… me, I’m vegetarian now.

    August 9, 2009 at 7:16 pm
  5. Hank

    Hey there — thanks for the link! Haven’t been the Belloci’s rooster assassin for a while…

    As for naming things you ultimately kill and eat, I say it’s all in the name. Why not name your soon-to-be-roasters Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Bernie Madoff? THAT would make it easier to tuck into them later, no?

    August 9, 2009 at 3:41 pm
  6. Bree

    I love reading your posts. They crack me up.

    In first grade I convinced my parents to let me take home two chicks we hatched in an incubator in my classroom. From sweet little chicks they turned into loud and feisty roosters. After the neighbors called the police multiple times complaining about the noise so we had to send them away to the farm. I wish I has known that you could give them to the alligator gar instead.

    August 6, 2009 at 7:58 pm
  7. Elizabeth Jardina

    Oh, good point, Tina. I’ll clarify it. Thanks.

    August 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm
  8. tinaK – friend of nugget

    When I read your title, I thought someone else killed Nugget! I’m glad that was not what you meant.

    August 6, 2009 at 3:18 pm
  9. liz

    While in my mind I know chickens need to die so we can eat them, I don’t think I could eat someone I named…

    August 6, 2009 at 8:34 am

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