Use a Chicken Brooder for Tender Meat

Buying or building a chicken brooder is one of the easiest and most economical ways to raise chickens for meat.

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    A complete chicken raising plant. With this broiler battery in your basement, garage or shed, you can raise baby chicks to 2 or 2-1/2 pound broilers in 8 to 10 weeks.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF
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    This outside sun porch is a convenient place to transfer eight to 10 week old broilers and raise them from three to seven pounds for frying or roasting. Raising in confinement makes for tenderness and rapid weight gains. Sanitary floor is seven-eighth inch wire mesh. Allow one square foot of floor space per bird at 10 weeks and two square feet at 20 weeks.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    One of the simplest most humane ways to kill poultry. A light blow of the hand and blade, held steady in the slot, punctures spinal cord leaving outlet for blood. The blade springs back as the chicken is dropped into a barrel.
    Photo by Ed Robinson
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    A diagram for a build-it-yourself chicken brooder.
    Illustration by MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

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One of the most successful projects we've undertaken is raising chickens to eat — broilers and fryers, in what is called a "broiler battery." This efficient new way of raising eating chickens has become increasingly popular among the large commercial poultrymen during the past few years, but only recently have small broiler batteries been made for family use.

Included in this article's image gallery is a picture of our home-sized broiler battery. Here is the way it works: In the top deck we place "30 day-old" chicks, dipping their beaks in the water tray (and the mash) as we take them out of the shipping carton. Dipping their beaks once or twice teaches them where to drink and eat. At the rear of the top deck is a heated chamber with a drape at the front. This is the brooder. It's heated automatically by an electric heat-unit. When the brooder drops below a certain temperature, the heat automatically goes on together with a small light. The light attracts the chicks and they duck under the drape into the warm brooder.

As they get hungry they come out to eat and drink from the feed and water trays. Once or twice a day — and it doesn't have to be done at a definite time — we change the water and add feed, a specially prepared battery broiler mash (be sure to get a vitamin fortified battery feed). The chickens live on wire and are kept sanitary at all times. A few sheets of newspaper spread out in the dropping tray makes the daily cleaning easy — simply pull out tray and roll up newspaper.

At the end of four weeks, the baby chicks are divided into two equal groups — half go into the second deck, half into the lower deck. At the same time, another batch of 30 baby chicks may be added to the top deck.

In another four weeks, and each succeeding four-week period, if you keep your battery running at capacity, you have 30 two-pound broilers.

The Feed Cost of Raising Broilers

Even with today's expensive feed, our chicken costs us only 16 cents a pound. What's more, our battery takes less than 10 minutes a day to operate and it is truly so simple a child can run it. Moreover, you can set it up in the basement, garage or shed — provided that, if you run the brooder during the winter, you have enough heat in any of these places to keep room temperature at 50 degrees Fahrenheit or above.

4/2/2012 1:48:48 PM

i think the brooder article was informative however, you never gave any information on who manufactures them .

9/11/2009 7:52:20 AM

I will not view Mother Earth News again. I am shocked that you allowed such a hostile contraption to be advertised here. This is supposed to be an alternative resource which informs people of ways to embrace nature. This way of raising chickens is rediculous. I just hope that others will see the insanity here.

Heidi Hunt_2
1/4/2008 8:15:05 AM

If you will go to the top of the page a put free range, pastured poultry or pastured beef in the search box, you will find that we have done at least a dozen articles on those topics in the last six years. The article above was published in 1970.



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