Ed showed me the procedure of welcoming new chicks to his farm. For the next two days, I hauled wheelbarrow loads of feed to their containers and kept them full. On each trip I also filled their water trays. On each go around I moved their food and water slightly away from their heaters and towards the perimeter of the building. Each morning, I raised their heaters a foot or two. In about four days, the heaters were at their regular height and if temperatures permitted could be turned off. By now all their food containers had been moved next to the food conveyer and watering system. One at a time, I removed their trays. By now all birds were getting used to getting their food and drink from a constantly running source. While carrying out this chore, I found the gruesome side of this business.
When I traveled about pushing the wheelbarrow full of feed, I attracted the attention of the hungry youngsters. They would rush me and I had to be careful to bring my load to a stop and deliver scoops to food to their trays. Once they got their food, they were less interested in my presence and dove into eat. However, in the process a few birds succumbed to errant foot steps or crushing wheels. I took as much pains as I could but could not avoid small accidents that were fatal to tiny creatures. Ed accepted this part of the business. He realized I was being careful and he inadvertently would step wrongly also.
We brought the carcasses to a six inch pipe that protruded from the ground on atop a mound in the field. Ed lifted off the cover of the tube and dispatched several bodies down the hole. He explained that a twenty thousand gallon tank was buried underfoot. According to his story it was not filled in over ten years, but contained the remains of all the chickens that did not make it to harvest. I was sickened by the thought of the sad end for these birds whether they made it to market or not. Next Ed showed me an active method to cull the flock. When a bird was lame or a runt, he preferred to get rid of it. He claimed it would just consume feed and not make it to market, thereby costing him. As an example he lifted up a bird with lame wing. He placed the head under his boot and yanked up on its feet. This technique quickly qualified the bird for a trip down the tube,. He expected me to follow his example. It was the end of our workday and I decided to sleep on it. I was not sure I could stomach a job that required I do in young chickens.