Project: Chickens

Outdoor Life

Project: Chickens

Hey everyone! I mentioned in my March wrap-up post that we had gotten chickens last month. We decided to try our hand at raising our own chickens for meat because one, it’s the best way to know what is going into your food (especially meat, if you eat it) and two, while we haven’t run the final figures yet, this looks to be significantly less expensive than buying chicken from the store. And after buying chicken from the store many times that had a weird texture when cooked (crunchy, rubbery-like), I’m ready to try something new.

I remember my great-grandparents raised chickens when I was little, but that was the extent of my experience when it came to raising birds. Matt read several articles on the internet about raising meat chickens, and surprisingly, it is a bit less involved than raising laying hens. For starters, you only raise meat chickens for about 8 to 10 weeks before harvesting them. There are breeds bred specifically for this purpose and one of those is Cornish Cross Broilers. They’re the typical white-feathered chickens that you probably picture when you think about chickens in your mind.

We put in our order for 24 chicks, and they came via the mail (like, the actual post office called and said they were there)! We had built two pens to hold them in, the first being a small pen made from those plastic signs you see staked in people’s yards during election years, and the second pen is our chicken tractor for outside. We put the smaller pen in our basement, and the chicks have lived there for roughly the first four weeks we’ve had them. We started moving them (with the exception of one) to the outside pen this past weekend to give them more space and encourage their adult feather to hopefully come in more. For the most part, everywhere but their heads have feathered out, but checking last night, several of them are getting their adult head feathers, so soon they will look like real chickens vs the weird half-fluff/half-feather thing they have going on at the moment.

There is one I haven’t been putting out with the rest, and the reason why is that his legs don’t seem to hold him up. He can shuffle around and get to the chick feeder and water dish, but the bigger feeder and water trough are a little bit of a challenge for him. So I’ve been leaving him in the indoor pen, and he’s been doing really quite well despite the fact that he doesn’t have full use of his legs.

Since the chickens are about four weeks old now, that means we only have about four more weeks left before it’s time to harvest them. Once we’re done with the whole process of raising them up from chicks through processing them, I’ll come back and post on our whole experience and whether or not we would consider raising them again next year!

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