Monsters!

Considering whether to eat the camera.

Considering whether to eat the camera.

The broiler chicken countdown says 6 more days, but I would ship these mutants off today if I could. They were weighing in at about 4.5-6 lbs last week, so I’m thinking we’re probably where we want to be now (6+ lbs) Unfortunately, despite having about 10 weeks to prepare for this moment, we are totally not ready to 1) truck 24 live chickens out and 2) store 24 processed birds once they’re finished. We don’t have a portable cage big enough to hold them all for the trip to the processor, so I think what we’ve decided to do is pull out the 12 biggest birds and take them down in various smaller cages.  We’ll give the smaller ones a week or so more to grow and then take them down. I’m going to have to use the credit card to purchase a chest freezer because our house freezer is already full of the locally raised beef we got last month!

We ran out of food two weeks ago and had to start buying organic scratch grains from the local feed store to supplement and it has been costing us a fortune! The birds are terrible food wasters, and a lot of money went down the toilet because of that. We will have to improve our feeders for the next batch so we don’t end up with piles of expensive crumble all over the ground every day. Very frustrating!  We are moving the tractor twice a day and they are going through about 4 gallons of water per day as well. Luckily the weather hasn’t been too hot, and they’re in a cool area because they could definitely be drinking more.  The tractor is by no means cramped, but they are getting pretty feisty with one another AND getting feisty with me as well.  I got quite a peck on the finger this morning while I was hanging the water font back up.  Yep, it’s definitely time for them to move on to the next part of their journey.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Monsters!

  1. You don’t process your own birds? Learn how! It’s not hard and two (or 3) people make the work easier. Plus, if you process your own, you’re not shelling out more money to have someone else do it. Last year we processed 40 birds (the monster meat birds!) and did 20 one Saturday afternoon, 20 the next. Each bird (once you get a system down), takes about 15 minutes to kill, pluck and clean, then another 15 to butcher, vacuum pack and freeze. Some we left whole, others were quartered.

    For two years we’ve raised the meat birds and this year, we are not. They are huge food wasters, go through massive amounts of water, make a HUGE mess (so much poop!), and grow bizarrely fast, too fast for their hearts to keep up. We did lose a few to heart attacks. This year we are hatching chicks from our chickens (all large breeds), and sending resulting roosters to freezer camp. Yes, they may take a bit longer to reach butcher size, but, mine all free-range, so feed costs will be significantly lower than the meat birds.

    Good luck finding a freezer!

    • I definitely need to learn to do it myself. As of right now, I don’t have a team to help me, but I do plan on learning so eventually I can take out the middle man. I’d gotten some information from the local land-grant university saying that to sell the birds in CA they had to be processed by a USDA facility, but I just recently found out that CA also observes the federal exemption whereby if you do less that 1,000 per year the processing requirement doesn’t apply to you. So yeah, no paying a middle man to do the dirty work in the future!

  2. on chest freezer, just make sure you get an energy efficient one…used ones may save upfront but not so much on the back end. Any reason you are shipping the birds off the farm for processing? With two of you the job could be done in a day or even split to two. Just a cost saving thought. Having a freezer full of good food is a wonderful feeling, enjoy it!
    *anna

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