Have You Considered Raising Meat Chickens?

| 7/6/2009 1:30:25 PM

Broiler Chicken

Here at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we have chickens on the brain. First, we’re hatching dozens of eggs as part of our Community Chickens project, and there’s also our recent feature,  Raising Chickens for Meat, a fantastic how-to article on broiler chickens by SARE communications specialist Gwen Roland. In it, Roland discusses the benefits of raising your own table birds: lower price, better flavor and the satisfaction of avoiding factory-farmed meat. 

We know a lot of you raise chickens for superior eggs, but how many of you raise broilers? Is the thought of butchering your own birds too macabre? Let us know by posting a comment below.

Photo by iStockphoto/Eric Delmar


cairn cobb
8/2/2010 8:15:35 AM

I have had chickens for eggs for about 5 years. I grew up on a large chicken farm in Ohio but until I had my own small flock I didn't know anything about chicken behaviors and diet because ours were in cages. Last year I had some old hens that were not producing anymore so asked a friend to teach me how to harvest them. I gave her half in exchange. I was surprised how sacred the morning felt. We used the cones so it was not violent or chaotic. It did not seem much different then harvesting cabbages. This same friend and I purchased 50 Cornish rocks and will harvest them in a couple of hours. Our grown daughters and my 16 year old grandson are working with us and we will divide them between us. We will have an after noon potluck and my granddaughter will baby sit the small children. It should be a day of community and prayerful gratitude for the goodness of the earth. The Cornish Rocks (barbeque special from Mc Murrey hatchery) grew fast but seem very healthy. Others on the internet report these birds look unhealthy and lethargic. Mine however are robust and even though they are very large still can run and fly. Although they could have been harvested earlier they are at 12 weeks. Perhaps people who have bad experiences with Cornish rocks over feed them in the beginning. I may post again after out day of work and prayer.

9/6/2009 5:38:29 AM

When my beloved brother and I were kids in 4-H we did the broiler project. When the broiler show time came we butchered something like 25 or more chicks. Ours were about 1/2 the size of everyone elses. They looked like "squabs!" When we got to the show and saw the other exhibits we were mortified. Our main problem in the stunting of our chicks was they did not have a night light to keep them eating at night! As soon as they were old enough to remove the brooder light we just kept them in the smokehouse. I'm 62 years old and I am going to give it another try. My brother is gone now and my husband thinks I'm nuts, but I really want to start becoming more self reliant. It will cost me as much if not more to raise my broilers than it would to go out to the base and buy them but it is a feeling of indepence I want to experiance. Wish me luck! PS I am planning to hold out some pullets to be my layers. White Rocks are a really good all around dual purpose chicken and are kind to kids.

9/5/2009 6:04:27 PM

we have raised dozens of meat birds and layers and love it. the butchering process is gruesome at times but after the first couple only the smell gets to you. the trick to not having a tough bird is put them in a small pen for 2 weeks before butchering and feeding scratch grain or cracked corn only (same trick for hogs and cows). i am looking for some one who knows how i can optain the fda waiver to sell chickens i butcher because i have several people that want them.

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