Blood tears and feathers – Dispatching Geese

Today I witnessed first hand the killing of five Geese yesterday. For me, the animal lover, a traumatic and leveling experience, but all part of living with animals on a remote farm.

Over the past 2 weeks all 11  Geese have been fed at close range to get them accustomed to humans. They were enticed with food into the chicken tractor for a few days and the day before they were due to be dispatched, locked into the cage. The 4 females and 2 older males were removed from the cage and we ceased feeding the remaining trapped Geese for 18 hours so their bowels were relatively free of food – they had water only.

After catching the Geese and placing them in hessian sacks it only took 10 minutes to dispatch them and at least 2 hours to pluck – each of us plucking our own goose. The killing method we decided on was to keep the goose contained inside the hessian sack, exposing the head and applying a swift knock to the back of the head to render the goose unconscious. With a sharp axe chopping off the head on a chopping block while still holding the goose firmly in the hessian sack – and continuing to hold tight while the nerves played out the final movements until the body was still. Geese have long and strong necks, so attempting to break the neck as you would a chicken is just too dangerous. Unfortunately after much research we could not find one comprehensive source that gave instructions on how to dispatch geese. I really don’t think our geese suffered at all and it was all very quick.

Then onto the plucking. I made the unfortunate mistake of tugging too strong on my first handful of feathers just at the base of the neck – which resulted in tearing the skin open. A little bit grizzly. After that I worked on my technique  –  as its all about technique to pluck a Goose well. Heating water to 65 degrees C and hold the body under for one and a half minutes makes plucking easier. The hardest thing of all (emotionally) was plucking the long flight feathers from the wings  – it felt wrong to be dismantling something so beautiful.

The cook (Christian) cut the bodies into portions, saving the choice cuts and using the remains in a stock. The liver is being turned into Pate. The down feathers have been kept to make a doona the rest placed in the compost. All parts being used or returned to the earth.

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