Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Meat Chickens - An Update

This post is a bit delayed and since these photos were taken the chickens have grown a lot and I will no doubt be posting about them again very soon.
So where are we at with the journey and what have we learnt so far.
Well I can tell you one thing for sure, these little buggers eat a lot!  In fact all they do is eat, poop, drink and sleep.
We are really treating this as an experiment in a a number of areas:
How do we feel about raising our own meat and butchering it ourselves?
How do we feel about a commercial breed vs a heritage breed for meat?
How much does it actually cost? Does this save us any money
What are the yeilds from the birds?
What is the meat vs fat ratio?
And importantly how do they taste?
It will be a while before we can answer all of these questions but we have already made some observations.
"What you lookin at?"
There are some behaviours that these chickens exhibit that I think has to do with the comercial breed and the rate at which they grow.  They seem to need to streatch a lot for one thing and you often see the streaching out a wing or leg.  Now I have to be realistic in the fact that we do not usually spend as much time looking at baby chickens (these ones spent a few weeks inside) and perhaps all little chickens spend time stretching but I am not convinced it would be so often.
They also seem to spend a heck of a lot of time sitting down.  This is something we knew to expect as the commercial breeds are so heavy.
It is always dinner time.
One final thing that has become obvious is that there can be big differences in the size between some of the chickens.  They were all hatched over two days but some of the chicks are twice the size of others.  Check out the difference between the three in the photo below.
The chicks are now living in their outside residence and I am quite glad to have them, the noise and (yes mum) the smell gone.  We have had some cool weather lately so they still have a light to keep them warm but this week should be the last week for that too since they are now fully feathered.

NB Apologies if there are spelling mistakes but blogger does not want to check it for me, grrrr.


  1. Fiona, were they in a confined space when they were doing all the stretching? it may have been that they needed room to move around? When I had my last lot of chicks, they ran around, flew, stretched their wings and sat down....just like all baby things you think the size difference is gender? I cant wait to see how your experience goes , as if I had more land I would be surely giving meat birds a go.....

    1. Suzanne they were in a cage but did have plenty of room but maybe it is just something they do. Now that they are bigger they sure do flap at each other a lot.

  2. I'm looking forward to seeing the next photos. We have only done heritage breeds. I've never seen a commercial meat chook!

  3. Very interesting experiment. Personally I don't like the commercial breeds, it doesn't seem right to breed them so they get so big, but I'll be watching to see how they turn out and what you think of them. We find the Rhode Island Red roosters get big enough to eat and that means we can breed our own and not have to buy from hatcheries.

    1. Liz I do believe that we will go to heritage breeds. Having seen the lack of natural chicken behaviour concerns me plus the growth factor. I really feel like we will learn a lot from this and will be able to share what we learn with others. We have been looking at different breeds that we might try.

  4. So exciting Fiona! Our chicks are almost to point of lay now, which is when we'll combine our other layers and separate the Light Sussex's for breeding. We've been asking around for a Sussex rooster but haven't landed one as yet. And by the way, our chicks did the stretching thing a lot too (very cute) and they still do even though they are in a massive run with lots of tree limbs to climb on and big piles of compost to dig through. So I just think its something they do.


I'd love to hear your thoughts...
Thanks for taking the time to comment