I have poultry raising in my blood. My dad’s family owned Preston Poultry here in Sabina and when I was little I can remember being in my grandma’s chicken house here at the farm (sadly that building no longer exists). I always knew when I owned my home I wanted chickens and when I bought my house I did get laying hens and I still have them. However, with spring almost here it is time for an experiment with raising meat chickens here at the farm.
Mom is not 100% for this, but Dad and I are. I think if you are striving towards a more simple way of life, getting away from factory farm meat should be a goal. We can’t have cows or pigs here, but we can have chickens. So I introduce to you 19 Cornish Rock chicks:
There were 20, but one didn’t make it through the first night. None of my laying hens are hybrids, they are all heritage breeds. I was reading mixed things about heritage breeds as meat chickens, so for this first try I decided to go with a hybrid. I think the chick that died was probably suffocated by the others as they were staying all bunched up the first night (they didn’t seem cold, it just seemed to be what they were doing). It also could have been stress as they had been shipped to the feed store that morning and I had moved them again. Hard to say. They all seem pretty healthy now.
This is the third group of chicks I have raised and the first time I have used electrolytes and probiotics in their water. The electrolytes turn the water orange. I am not sure what the benefit in that is, but it feels like I’m giving them Gatorade.
This breed is ready to butcher at 6-8 weeks. Dad likes a smaller chicken than what you find in the grocery stores. Really though, who doesn’t? Grocery store chickens are like small turkeys. Dad and I will be doing all of the processing. Mom says she’ll bag them for the freezer.
I am pro hunting, but I’ve never killed an animal myself, so this is also an experiment for me personally. It has never bothered me to butcher a whole chicken from the store, but I think starting with a live chicken is a completely different situation. I also believe it is something you should know how to do. We’ll see how it all goes.
The farm will also be getting a small flock of laying hens. We’re going to pick them up tomorrow at Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Cincinnati so we’ll introduce them next week!