Raising chicks – the business end

*Please note this post does contain some slightly graphic images of the process so if you are squeamish, maybe just scroll through the pictures really fast!

Well it’s only taken me another 8 weeks to write this post so here goes. The business end of raising chicks for meat. I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about having to kill the chicks that we had raised from 1 day old but I was absolutely fine. I think knowing right from the start that the purpose of these birds was for meat made it much easier. And I was looking forward to my roast chicken!

We ‘graduated’ the chicks in 2 batches as it is quite a lengthy process by the time you cull, pluck, gut and clean – first time we only did 3, and then the other 8. They all weighed in at just over 3kg which we were very happy with.

Firstly, we had made sure not to feed the chickens for about 12 hours before we were going to process them – this just makes it less messy from the gutting point of view. We picked the first chicken out of the paddock and took it to the cone that we have attached to a tree. Josh used a knife to cut the throat and we let the chook bleed out which only took a few minutes. This is an important step in the process as if not bled out, the birds have a tendency to bruise in the plucker. Continue reading

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Hatch Day

We have babies! Little feathery babies that look like they could be closely related to penguins, but babies nonetheless! And it happened FAST!

I got home from work and went to have a little peek, spotted half an eggshell in the corner and heard a little “cheep cheep cheep” and there was our first hatched chick! Within an hour there were 3 more and in a couple of days we were the proud parents of 12 little chickys! I can’t explain how exciting it was after waiting for almost 3 weeks and being able to see them breaking through the shells! We left them in the incubator for about 24 hours to give them time to dry out and rest up in the warmth before moving them into their new home under the brooder.

IMG_7217Unfortunately 2 chicks didn’t hatch but I think 12/14 is a pretty good strike rate with incubated eggs. They are all black or dark grey except for this little grey one – I think he is the other breed!

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The waiting game

We are hatching chicks! Bringing home day old chicks wasn’t enough for us so we decided to take it a step further and bought an incubator! We have 14 eggs and for 18 days now we have been patiently waiting for the little guys to break free.

Our incubator is fully automated so you put the eggs in the little trays, set the temperature and leave them to it – the incubator turns the eggs for you.

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At 10 days you candle the eggs in order to see how many are actually in the process so that you can remove the undeveloped eggs. As you can imagine leaving a regular egg in an environment that is around 38°C with about 55% humidity is not going to end well! I had no idea how we would be certain if there were chicks growing inside until this happened…

Continue reading

Raising Chicks – Week 10

Given that the chicks (not that they are really chicks anymore) are pretty much fully grown I thought I’d share something different this week.

This is how we weigh them. In a bucket, sitting on my kitchen scales that are wrapped in a plastic bag. Genius!

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It worked a treat when they were small…now they don’t really fit in the bucket and we have to hold them in while at the same time trying to not put extra weight on my little scale. Tricky! This guy weighs 2.8kgs.Looks like roast chicken to me! Continue reading

Raising Chicks – Week 8

I am pleased to say I was MUCH better at keeping track of the chickies this week! They are now 8 weeks old, weighing around 2kg and are HUGE!!

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After deciding last week to plateau their feed we have upped it to 130 grams per bird, per day. While we don’t want to be funnelling food into them, this particular breed is designed to gain weight rapidly so we figured we should make the most of this. We don’t want to run the risk of leaving them too long and the meat becoming too tough.

We have 2 separate feeders in the paddock now as they are too big to fit around the 1 and go CRAZY when the crumbs are poured in. I’m talking extreme squawking, and full on attacking of each other…nicely though!

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They’re not too bothered by the laying hens next door – they just occasionally check them out and keep them in line!

Raising Chicks – Week 7

I have to admit, we’ve failed a bit at our chicken farming this week…well, not actually at chicken farming – just at documenting it! We were away over the weekend and as a result completely forgot to weigh the chicks or take any new photos of them…whoops! You’re really not missing out though…they look exactly the same…just bigger! At my guess they are probably weighing in at about 1.5kg each.

We have leveled out their feed supply this week. They will now continue to be fed 100 grams each per day. This seems to be a good amount as it is not so much that they are gorging themselves, but enough that they are continuing to gain weight at a reasonable rate.

I can tell you though that our guess of only one rooster in the bunch seems to have been wrong. There is at least one other…he has just been a little slower to develop!

They are still happily living in their little run and are absolutely loving their big fancy coop. I’ll leave you with this picture…hard to believe only 7 weeks ago they looked like this!

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