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First day in the big outdoors
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judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 05 10:24 am    Post subject: First day in the big outdoors  Reply with quote    

We have just transferred our latest batch of meat chickens from the barn to their outdoor pen. For ten minutes, they just sat there huddled together, looking scared. Then one took a peck at a blade of grass, and another. The others suddenly realised that he was eating something, and rushed to have a look. Gradually they all came to the realisation that their whole world was edible! They are now rushing around, pecking at everything for five minutes, then collapsing in a heap to enjoy the sunshine.

Broiler chickens aren't the most attractive critters you've ever seen, but at this stage they are rather endearing with their big clumsy feet and unsuccessful attempts to fly.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Tue May 10, 05 10:32 am    Post subject: Re: First day in the big outdoors Reply with quote    

Judith wrote:
Gradually they all came to the realisation that their whole world was edible!


I think that would go some way to making up for that date they have lined up with the oven! How long have they got?

Quote:
Broiler chickens aren't the most attractive critters you've ever seen


Are these the Ross/Cobbs again?

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 05 10:56 am    Post subject: Re: First day in the big outdoors Reply with quote    

Bugs wrote:
I think that would go some way to making up for that date they have lined up with the oven! How long have they got?


They are just a tad under six weeks old now. At the broiler houses, they would be coming up for slaughter soon. We let them grow slowly, and run about to develop a bit of muscle tone - 12 weeks is about right. The last lot went to 14 and were like small turkeys. Poultry farmers would despair at the way we do it, but we like the end result!

Quote:
Are these the Ross/Cobbs again?


Ross to be precise.

Pat



Joined: 24 Apr 2005
Posts: 22
Location: Leeds
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thats sad!!!

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 12:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

What is?

wellington womble



Joined: 08 Nov 2004
Posts: 14976
Location: East Midlands
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 1:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Where do they go Judith? And do they come back oven ready? I can deal with killing them (well morally, not practically - at first I'd be scared of being inneffient) but I really can't say the thought of gutting and plucking appeals much.

Oh, and how does it cost (just the deed, not the general raising and pecking!) I like chicken, but it is sooo expensive, and hard to get the good stuff!

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44302
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

wellington womble wrote:
do they come back oven ready?




Gutting is quick and easy once you've done it a couple of times, plucking isn't too bad either, of course you could just skin without plucking.

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

WW, they don't go anywhere - we do it all here. They are used to being handled, so by the time they realise anything might be amiss, it is too late. They are dead within a minute or so of being picked up from their run.

That said, it still isn't a nice job, and I find it doesn't get any easier with time. Even though I know they have been raised humanely, had the sun on their backs for most of their short lives and have been dispatched with the absolute minimum of stress to them - you are still killing something you have looked after for several weeks or months.

Once they are dead, I don't have any problem at all with the plucking/gutting - that is just a job that has to be done. At that point I just want to get it over with and have a beer!

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

As for cost, it works out at 6 - 7 per bird, depending on how long we keep them. Non-organic feed would bring the cost down quite a bit. It sounds quite expensive, but they are big birds - the last lot were between 6 and 8 lbs each.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44302
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 2:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

That's very cheap compared to buying birds. How many do you rear a year?

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 2:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We only raise 6 at a time, and will do three batches this year. That is plenty for our needs.

Edited to say that the cost doesn't factor anything in for our time.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

How do you despatch them Judith?

(Sorry for all the questions, but I think this is a perfect scale for a lot of people here and I know we're seriously considering it for the future on a similar scale...although if it were practical we'd like to breed dual purpose birds and keep the girls and snack on the boys).

I suppose in theory if you raised more, you would be less attached to them?

judith



Joined: 16 Dec 2004
Posts: 22789
Location: Montgomeryshire
PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

We use an air pistol. We have tried other methods, but this is the fastest and most reliable for us.

I don't know whether larger numbers would make it easier. To tell the truth, I don't ever want to become complacent about it. Our porkers are going for their one-way trip in less than a fortnight. I'm really not looking forward to that.

Bugs



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 10744

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 3:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

Thanks. For what it's worth I think you have a good attitude to it all and hope we'll manage the same when the time comes. Good luck with the porkers (is it terribly tactless to mention Alison's bacon cure article?)

Daydreaming



Joined: 12 Apr 2005
Posts: 291

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 05 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote    

I'm intrigued.
I would love to raise chickens. I understand Black Orpingtons are good birds to eat but they are so beautiful I have trouble with the thought of killing them. I hope that given the circumstances I would deal with it.
Supposing you sold them to a local restaurant, one specialising in high quality food? Would it be difficult?

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