Tag Archives: Day Old Chicks

Our New Adventure – Day 1, Batch 2

As a family, we want to make sure we source our meat from local, humane and sustainable resources.  Sometimes we aren’t successful, but over 95% of the time we are.  We have a great resource for chicken, but we have agrarian dreams and we wanted to raise our own.  Okay, mostly, have agrarian dreams and a very supportive husband.

Our First Batch

So our newest adventure is raising meat birds, particularly chickens.  We started our first batch five weeks ago, and we got our second batch of ten chicks last night.  We start them in our homemade brooder, where they live for three to four weeks.  You can read about this DIY brooder here.

We ordered six cockerels (male chicks) for our first batch.  I also picked up two turkey poults at that time, one male and one female, from a different local farmer.  This first batch of chicken should be ready to be processed (a nice way to say butchered) in about three weeks time.  The turkeys will take about six months and should be ready around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Six chicks and two bronze Turkeys.  Another agrarian adventure begins!

Six chicks and two bronze Turkeys. Another agrarian adventure begins!

 

I’ve read that we should raise the turkeys away from the chickens, and I’ve read it doesn’t matter.  Having the turkeys and chickens together so far seems to working out wonderfully.

Our Second Batch

We ordered 10 chicks for our second batch.  That seems like the ideal amount for the Chicken Paddy Wagon.  The Chicken Paddy Wagon is a 8 foot by 4 foot shelter that we move daily.  This is the Joel Salatin Method.  Everyday, we move this enclosure to a new section of grass.  We do this so:

We got a mixed batch of broilers.  Here they are:

IMG_0426IMG_0428

And a video describing their second day:

Types of Birds

We order “broiler” chickens from a local hatchery.  They are a mix of large bodied heritage breeds that will have a decent amount of meat in a little bit of time.

We did not choose to use the “Cornish Cross” chickens.  Those birds come to full maturity at 6 weeks. If they are not processed by about 8 weeks, they start to die from enlarged hearts, or their legs collapse beneath them from the heavy body weight.  These Cornish Crosses get so large their feathers do not cover their body.  From what I’ve read, these fraken-chickens are not interested in eating bugs or grass.  Essentially, they have lost the “chicken-ness” of being a chicken.  This seems highly unnatural to me.   And a lot of that extra nutrient which pastured poultry is known for comes from the birds eating bugs and grass.

That being said, I think I will experiment and buy a few Cornish Crosses in the future.  I have had a lot of experiments go differently than what I read.  My plants and animals have not read the same resources I have.  So I would like to see the results given our inputs.

Processing the Birds

We have processed birds here before.  We did that last fall when we found that we had 4 roosters, and we ordered all hens.  It’s not a great idea to have that many roosters.  It’s really rough on the hens, and the roosters can fight with each other.  So we had to cull 3 roosters.  (Culling is when you process chickens due to excess roosters or if they have lived past their laying prime.)

Costs

I am also keeping a running tally of the costs associated with raising meat birds.  I saw a whole organic chicken for sale at the grocery store for under $8.00.  I’m pretty sure our birds are going to cost more than that.  However, organic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Organic is better than conventional, but it stinks compared to pastured.  These organic birds that you can buy at a store just eat organic food.  They probably still live inside of large over crowed chicken houses with little to no ventilation.  The birds are probably not eating any bugs, digging in dirt, or eating any grass or weed seeds.

We are feeding our birds 100% organic feed while they have access to the outdoors during the last half of their life.  We want our chickens to be happy and to live healthy lives.

So join me on our journey with meat birds from day one to our table.

 

Link to the water and feeder for your Brooder:

Baby Chick Feeder Bottom

Water Bottom

Bottle for Food and Water

 

Day Old Chicks

Please note, this post is from my old blog and was written in October 2013.  I have made edits in Italics.

Right now, we have 5 chickens that were born in the beginning of June.  So they are just under 5 months old.  we have three Easter Eggers, a Silver Laced Wyandotte and a Jersey Giant (who we now believe is a Black Australorp).  The Jersey Giant is my favorite, so I named her Betty. We also named the Silver Laced Wyandotte Psycho.  Well, she actually named herself through her crazy actions.

They are still not producing eggs, but when they do we probably will not be getting enough eggs.  So we decided to beef up our stock.  We received them two days ago.  We ordered 2 Dominiques, 2 Jersey Giants(again, they turned out to be Black Australorps), 2 Fayoumis and one White Sultan (she died of unknown causes).  The White Sultan is really good at nothing except for looking pretty.  So that is our chicken that is strictly a pet.

The first thing we did was set up their brooder. This is the place they are going to live for the next 5 weeks or more, depending on weather.  The brooder is an old wading pool I found in the garbage.  The wading pool is especially good because is has no corners for them to get piled up in.  We hung a heat lamp from the ceiling.  My husband used to have many snakes (yuck – we still have one), this is one of his left over heat lamps. And a feeder and a waterer we bought from Tractor Supply.  We used pine shavings for bedding, as the acidity neutralizes their stinkiness, and Chris built a simple roost for them out of 2×4’s, as seen in later pictures.


I picked the girls up from the Post Office, and brought them straight home.  Upon opening the box they came in, we saw one of our chicks had died.  These things happen when you have living things, but it is never fun.  We think it was one of the Dominiques (it was).

I took them out of the box, one by one, dipped their beak in their water, and let them enjoy their new surroundings.  At first they all huddled under the heat lamp to warm up from their cool flight.

Then they started to spread out, get something to eat and start to explore. The picture below shows the Dominque eating while one of the Fayoumi’s looks on from the right, and the Jersey Giant hangs out on her left.


We added some water to their food.  At this point in their lives, hydration is very important.  I’m going to have to clean the whole food dispenser out in a few days to prevent any mold growth.

The Fayoumi is a little camera shy.  You can see that they have brown fluff with leopard spots.

My Dominique is quite the camera hog.  Or maybe just curious.  Whenever I put my camera down to take their picture she came running up front and center.

 

The White Sultan which I have yet to name, was camera shy.  I picked her up so I could show her off.  I read they were originally in gardens as an ornamental touch.  So she is my walking flower.  You can see the feathers on her feet already!


This morning, Jaxy came downstairs to hang out with the babies.  He loves them!  Also, you can see in the lower right corner, I added some grit, just some small gravel in the top of an old lid.

When they get older, they are filthy.  They create so much dust, I was very excited to get them out of our home.  When they got a little older, we ended up having to put some fencing around the pool to keep them from escaping.