Meat Chickens | Homesteading

About a month and a half ago, I made the mistake of asking the hubs why we weren’t doing any meat chickens this summer. We already have a large pasture, we already had a second completed, empty coop, and we have our fodder system (sprouted seed) down so well that it costs us less than 50 cents a day to feed the big chickens, even less as the summer approaches and the bugs make an appearance. He looked at me and his eyes lit up. Two weeks later, we picked up 32 baby chicks. I should learn to keep my mouth shut 😉 chicks-1 chicks-4 chicks-6 chicks-10 chicks-11The are in a coop with a brooder lamp in a portion of the big chicken’s pasture. We’ve really enjoyed going out and playing with them. Jonah in particular is completely enthralled, and he and Joelle say cuuuuuttte, cuuuuute every time they see them! A week ago we started letting them out in a very small portion of the pasture during the day because they love picking at grass and flowers and bugs. Well that day, we discovered that ravens really like baby chicks. We lost 18 chicks in just a couple of hours. We are raising these birds for the sole purpose of eventually butchering them to feed our family, but it was heartbreaking to lose so many little chicks. Not only for the loss of money/eventual food, but also because they never got to be bigger chickens and enjoy their lives in the pasture. A good homesteading lesson for us though. Here’s a few more photos of them! They are already twice as big now! mud day-24 mud day-27 mud day-28

chicken harvest | homesteading

Wow… there are some crickets going on over here in blog-land. I haven’t been posting much, but that’s mostly because we have been crazy busy. Despite the usual “four kids under four” craziness, we’ve also been homesteading busy.

The big lately? Chicken harvesting (the “nicer” way to say butchering).

Warning: There are photos of butchered chickens, close the browser now if you don’t want to see them! No worries though, they aren’t graphic.

We were blessed enough to have two friends and Jace’s brother help us out, which made things move a lot faster. Overall we butchered 10 roosters, utilizing Jace’s home made rocket stove (A rocket stove is an efficient cooking stove using small diameter wood fuel which is burned in a simple high-temperature combustion chamber containing a vertical chimney and a secondary air supply which ensures almost complete combustion prior to the flames reaching the cooking surface.)

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Aaaand right about this time, the twinkie tornado woke up from nap and I no longer took pictures! Instead I spent the rest of the afternoon handling water fights, drawing in chalk and clearing sand out of kiddos eyes 🙂

Overall the experience went as we expected! We put 8 birds in the fridge and roasted two up this week, they were delicious! We will definately be growing our own meat birds again, in fact, our next batch should be here in a few weeks! 30 birds!

 

*On a related note, we kept 3 roosters and seven hens, and three of the hens are laying now. Hoping the others start soon! Yay fresh eggs!

chickens | homesteading

I thought it was about to share an update on the chickens. We started with 26 little chicks, but thanks to a relentless hawk, we are down to 20 chickens. We appear to have scared the hawk off for now. We have 7 hens (females), and 13 roosters (males). The chickens have grown into themselves, and are quite sociable! They are very sweet and come running when someone approaches their pen. We let them out of the coop in the morning into a large fenced orchard, and they settle back in the coop right before dark at night. We are anxiously awaiting longer days so the hens can begin laying, soon, soon! We have a “chicken harvest” scheduled for this month, and we will butcher and freeze 11 of the roosters, keeping two roosters for protection/mating. We have several varieties: Barred Rock, New Hampshire Red, Black Australops, and Ameraucanas (Easter Eggers).

One of the rooster that will be staying around is a big New Hampshire Red, he is the largest red rooster, with the big red comb and waddle. He has definitely embraced his role of protecting the flock. Our little session focused on him, as he was concerned about what my camera was doing!

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(Guess what, chicken butt- that’s courtsey of the hubby.)

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