Monday, September 9, 2013

Meat Chickies!!!

John and I were quite intimidated by the prospect of butchering chickens. 

When we originally ordered our first batch, we got 15 because the company requires at least 15 birds to be shipped together for body heat.  We only wanted 7 or 8 and intended to sell the rest on craigslist.  Then John suggested we just keep them for meat.  I found a semi-local butcher.  They charged $3/bird. That, plus gas driving there and back would have been something like $150 just for 8 chickens.  Not to mention the initial purchase price, feed, and heating costs while in the brooder.  

So, we started researching doing it ourselves.  

And we just... DID... it.  It was actually not a difficult process at all.  John had the tough job of being at the business end of a hatchet.  I feel grateful and amazed to have a husband that can man up to a task like that.  

For the record, farming is MY hobby.  Not John's.  He plays along because he loves me.  

He has hunted small game and processed fish and rabbit, but this was a little different.  

He did a fine job and I was really proud of him.  

So, John beheaded, we dipped in hot water, hung by a foot, picked feathers, eviscerated, and bagged 'em up.  Took about 20 minutes per bird.  

The cost break down was really high for the first batch.  We brooded them in our basement for 6 weeks and had 3 heat lamps going 24/7.  Heating alone was $150 for 6 weeks.  

Per bird costs
Heat- $10
Food- $10
Initial cost- $3
TOTAL- $23/bird

Those were NOT cheap chickens.  

So, we decided to do things differently for our second round.  We ordered more birds.  We ordered in the heat of the summer, and ordered the cheapest bird available.  Its sort of funny, we got what Cackle Hatchery called the "Fry Pan Special".  It is all roosters from egg laying breeds, so the cast off chicks from people who order all hens.  They were $1.60/bird.  
We kept them in the garage for only 2.5 weeks and only ran a single heat lamp for a total of about 24 hours.  
Food costs will be a little lower as we found a less expensive food and these chickens will be butchered earlier than the others.  Can you imagine 26 roosters crowing at 5:20 in the morning???  Plus, these chicks are in a moveable coop that allows them to free range and eat bugs and grass.  

Anticipated costs are going to be something like $5/bird for food and $1.60 purchase price...  So, less than $7/bird.  That is MUCH more comparable to what you pay in the grocery store!  

So, the meat tractor (movable chicken coop) was pretty easy to build.  I actually did all of it myself except putting on the sheet metal.  John wanted to do that as it is a little scary to work with.  It is 10x6 feet and has a chain so we an pull it to a new spot every day!  

Day old chicks!  Cute every time!

They had only been outside a short time before catching a bug and playing keep away!
I already think these chicks have an advantage over our first batch who lived indoors for a month longer than these babies.

John pulling the tractor to Slider's pasture.

Slider, checking out his new friends.  
We hope that he provides a little security from predators.  
He hangs out with the chickies ALL of the time.  
They are totally BFFs!  

 John did a great job applying the sheet metal and making sure there were no exposed edges.
I designed and built the whole thing.  Paisley helped me by handing me screws, etc.
I framed it out, hung the hardware cloth, and framed and hung the door.
It was my first time building a door and I'm really proud of it!
Just to brag a *little*- John was surprised and impressed with how sturdy it was! I hadn't told him I was going to build it by myself and when he saw it, He was impressed!
I never knew I could be handy, but it turns out I really enjoy woodworking! 

Here is a cute video of Paisley telling Slider to go lay down and not to eat the chickens.  


We plan to butcher this batch as soon as they start to crow, or just before.  Probably sometime in mid or late October.  

1 comment:

  1. Talk about being REALLY supportive of your hobby! This is something I'd love to do some day. Butchering your own has got to be healthier AND tastier than store bought.