I don’t feel guilty killing (some, and a very very few) chooks to eat. I do feel guilty eating a battery hen or other animals killed in a slaughterhouse.
I am a moral omnivore. I try to only eat meat that is an essential part of the ecosystem, like my backyard orchard fed chooks, or that are feral, like the goats that are turning the rainforest gullies here into orange eroded clay desert, and their numbers desperately need to be reduced. If they have to be killed- and there is too much meat for the foxes, goannas, eagles and other meat eaters that share this land with me- then I’ll eat some of the meat too, instead of letting it rot so badly it may pollute the ground or water system . In both cases, I only eat meat if animals have been killed instantly, with no fear beforehand. You need to be able to shoot a lemon off a tree by it’s stem ie have a most steady an accurate hand before I’ll let you use a firearm on my territory. (I also eat any food that has been cooked and served to me with love, no matter what it contains, unless it’s likely to kill me.)
I believe that eating backyard chooks is the best way of efficiently using the land to produce food. The chooks eat scraps and weeds and pests and I eat the chooks. No more land is taken up than if I only grew veg or fruit or cereal crops. Backyard animals don’t take up room; they simply occupy a niche in the ecosystem.
If I were to consume the calories in rice or wheat that I get from my chooks, my needs would take up even more of the world’s space. And while rice and wheat and vegetable monocultures don’t directly kill animals, they do take up space where animals might live and feed. This indirect destruction is just as cruel and reprehensible. I advocate three-tier growing: trees and climbers above, veg and small bushes below, and small animals to wander round and eat the residues. Small backyard animals – which eat scraps and pests, take up no extra room and need almost no extra feeding – are one of the ecologically most sound and most moral ways of eating.
Which is a long way around to say: here are two chicken soup recipes, suitable for making with surplus young roosters or every elderly chooks, or your own moral choice of meat.