"Meat" The New Chickens

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We are raising our first meat animals. Cornish rock cross chickens.

The meat chicks

The meat chicks

Which I am still geeking out about.

I did not think we would be this far along in our homesteading journey in less than one year.

I know, I think it's totally crazy that a year hasn't gone by yet. It sure feels like it doesn't it?!

Excited isn't really the right word for how I'm feeling. Though, I am excited about a few things: 

  • If all 13 make it, this is at minimum 13 meals we are eating of humanely raised meat.
  • The experience and knowledge we will no doubt gain from this process.
  • The quality and taste of pasture raised meat is amazing.
  • We will likely save a few dollars (and invest a lot of sweat equity!).
  • No waste! Every piece will be put to good use. 

I feel like this is the part where I'm supposed to tell you how squeamish and worried I am looking forward to butcher day, but I'm not. I thought that as we got closer to actually doing this I would feel more hesitation, but the opposite is true. Now that they are here I absolutely feel ready.

Aurora loves holding them and does a great job helping with them

Aurora loves holding them and does a great job helping with them

I also thought since they were "meat" animals we would keep a distance from them, providing all of the necessary care they need but avoid "getting attached". 

Nope.

We snuggle them, play with them them, make sure they stay as clean as can be, and they get sunshine, fresh air, and nutritious treats. Raising them happy is just as important as raising them humanely now that they are here. The kids know that we are going to eat them, and as it closer we'll have more chats about why raising our food is important to us.

Probably over dinner.

Maybe a chicken dinner?

Maybe not....

About two weeks old, Cornish rock cross chicks

About two weeks old, Cornish rock cross chicks

As time moves on I'll share about their care, the cost to raise them, and how we process them. It's been less than a week, but I have a few observations already:

With a high feed to meat ratio, comes a high feed to poop ratio. I'm keeping them in the tractor during the day already so they don't spend it lounging around and pooping everywhere. This also saves me from cleaning the darn thing out so much. I've been able to just keep layering fresh shavings over the old for now. I take a big whiff after refresh, and so far so good. It'll get a real clean out every few days.

They are active and happy on the grass, and totally act like real chickens. In the brooder they spend the day with their heads in the feeder. I mean, there is nothing else to do in there. Though the stock tank is a nice big brooder. I decided to invest in one so I had something tall enough the dogs couldn't stick their noses in. We also host a family reunion annually and we decided we're bobbing for apples this year....after a lot of bleach and scrubbing.

They require more care. Even with spending time outside they go through food and water like crazy and need refreshing every morning and evening. Sometimes even in the middle of the day I'll find their feeder and water empty.

They love the grass already!

They love the grass already!

They grow FAST! I know, not new information. That's why people raise this breed of meat bird. It's also one of the reasons we chose them. There are a few trips we'd like to do this summer, and taking care of meat birds is a tall order to ask a friend to do!

I'm not really sure what their butcher time-frame looks like yet. I've heard they are ready anywhere from 6 to 9 weeks, so we'll see! I'd like a dressed weight of at least 6 lbs each, so we will wait until they are around 8 - 10 lbs live weight. 

When we raised our egg laying hens as chicks I felt totally overwhelmed by the whole thing, and swore I'd never raise chicks again. Either I'm getting more efficient with my farm chores so they feel a bit easier, or I'm just feeling more confident in my chick rising abilities. I've fussed over these chicks much less. 

I can't wait to share more! If you'd like to check out the tractor we built to pasture them you can get instructions to build it here.

Cheers!

Bev

 

This post contains ads & affiliate links (this links to our full disclosure about browser cookies, and way more than you probably wanted to know about ads and affiliate marketing). We make a small commission when you purchase from some of the links shared in this post. Making a purchase from a link will not cause you to pay more or affect your purchase in any way. It will however, support our wildest farmin' dreams, which is mighty awesome of you.