Raising Meat Chickens: 2nd Year Lessons

We did it- we survived our second year of raising our own chickens for meat!

Here are links to previous blogs dealing with the Cost of Raising, how we raised them last year, & lessons we learned.

And without further ado- what we did differently this year.

1. We waited until mid July to get them- the hotter weather at a younger age allowed them to go outside earlier and not suffer the ill effect of too much heat. On the other hand, by September, the poor things were shivering as we had an early fall this year…

2. We got 150 – 30 more then last time. And they actually sent us 158. Huzzah! But over the course of the entire 10 weeks we lost 11… boo.

3. We pastured them instead of keeping them in tractors- way less time consuming for us- we were moving two tractors a day everyday for weeks- and less stressful for them as they just had their pasture and houses and could do as little or as much moving as the wanted.

4. We restricted their feed by the pound this year, not the time of day. Those guys would have gladly eaten themselves to death.

5. We bought food in bulk while it was on sale- saved a dollar initially and then 5% on top. Plus got 12 months 0% financing because it was a single large purchase on my TSC card. Huzzah once more!

Things to do differently next year

1. Buy meat bird crumble from the beginning- they don’t really need chick crumble at all and it’s actually 11 cents more per lb.

2. Butcher and process ourselves – we wanted to this year but we had extensive leaks in our shed that need to be addressed. Outfitting ourselves to butcher and process 150 chickens in 3 weeks would cost us over a grand. And we need that money elsewhere. So we are going back to our butcher from last year. We will pay him 4.75 a bird and happily move on for this year. This is also actually a necessity now because our former butcher has closed shop… whomp whomp.

3. Give them even more pasture. They stuck pretty close to their houses in the heat of mid day, but mornings and evenings they were out exploring and foraging.

4. Try harder to not get attached to single chickens… especially the failing ones. We had three become very frail to various injuries and I had the unfortunate job of having to dispatch them. It sucked. I cried. And not just because of the lost investment, which hurts a practical minded individual such as myself.

6. Try fermenting their feed- I’m on the fence about this. I do it with the egg layers in the months it won’t freeze… but it’s more work quite frankly.

There you have it- and until next time, have a wicked good day!

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