Great Eggs-pecation in Red Hook: Brooklyn man hatches plan to raise hens in backyard for slaughter

He’s a real Red Hook ranchero. This summer, Declan Walsh of Red Hook became the first known private resident in Brooklyn to raise hens for slaughter, according to Just Food, a nonprofit group that works to develop a sustainable food system in the New York metro area. Walsh has raised chickens for their eggs in his backyard for six years – its legal to raise hens inside city limits – but this was his first batch of birds raised solely for their meat. “I just wanted to go to the next stage, to see what it was like to raise them to be eaten,” said Walsh, 41. Walsh, the director of community outreach at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, ordered 50 broiler hens from a farm in Texas in June. As soon as they hatched, the day-old chicks were shipped via U.S. mail to his Van Brunt St. home. “The post office knows us now,” said Walsh. “They come around because they hear the boxes clucking and chirping.” The tiny hens lived in a plastic kiddie pool lined with newspaper in Walsh’s basement for two weeks. Then, with his backyard already cluttered with egg-laying chickens, Walsh and his wife, Maria Mackin, moved the chicks to a coop they built on a neighbor’s property. After 55 days, the chickens were ready to be eaten. Walsh took them to a local slaughterhouse. “We raised you. We kill you and we eat you,” Walsh said of the birds. “That was the deal…. [Read full story]

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