Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slick Chickens

It will be 2 years in April that I added chickens to my little 4 acre farm and I have become quite amused at some of their antics. I was not amused however, when they shut down egg production about 2 months ago.....just in it time for the holidays of course.
They have redeemed their feathered selves in the past 2 weeks as they have kicked their egg production into gear. I have been getting 6-10 eggs a day...........or so I thought.
The other day when I came home from school and started to do barn chores I noticed the dogs hanging out by the garden barn. They seemed quite engrossed in cleaning the gravel just under the porch of the barn. So of course I am thinking something dead had been found and it was an afternoon snack. Well, it was a snack...........an egg.

After looking around and with the help of my ever wise beagle Squirt, an egg was discovered. It is hard to tell from this shot, but it was quite obvious that there was a "nest" in the gravel. So those slick chicks were stashing eggs behind my back!! Now I know to check this gravel nest on a daily basis as I know the beagles and Dixie know where to find some freebie eggs.

Dixie, however, also can walk her short self into the coop and create havoc amongst the chickens. I have actually caught her coming out of the coop with "something" hiding in her mouth.
This year I am going to dive into raising some meat birds. I have been tossing this idea around for well over a year. I know for a fact that I can not clean them. I admit I am a wimp on this. I can stick my hand and arm inside a goat or sheep to help assist with a birth but I am NOT cutting off a chicken's head and cleaning it up. I know, some farm woman I am turning out to be but hey, at least I admit my faults and down falls. I have already researched and found someone to do the cleaning so I am good to go:)
Does anyone have any suggestions on which types of meat birds are best and which suppliers are good? The egg chickens I got from Murray McMurray and they have the Cornish X Rocks. I asked Kara over at Mapleton Farm and she uses a Cornish cross too.
Does anyone have a preference on when to start the meat birds? Like is April good or wait 'till June? Any pros or cons on buying a straight run or just getting females? If anyone reading has a moment to leave a comment, I would appreciate the insight/suggestions:)

I am sure Alvin is wondering if he will benefit from some fresh chicken;)



11 comments:

Foothills Poultry said...

If you are going to get cornish X there is an advantage to straight run. The males will fill out faster then the females. This will give you birds at process weight at different times. That way you, or whoever, don't get over worked having to process all at once.

Downside is that you will be feeding some of them longer.

~~Matt~~

Deb said...

I like the cornish X as well. I buy my birds from Cackle Hatchery. Cheaper than McMurry and much better quality as well as better service.
I prefer to do my birds all at once. Not sure when you want to butcher. Your birds should be at butcher weight in about 10-12 weeks. Sometimes they will be ready before that. I think 8lbs is average weight. They eat alot!! and you will be amazed at how fast they grow. Good Luck!!!

Kara said...

Hi Kristi,

I left a comment on an old post Miss. Q is 37 pounds so growing well and Mr. C. is much bigger but I didn't weight him.

As for Chickens...Hoovers and Welp are the hatcheries I used last year and their prices were better than McMurry. My mixed run reached butcher weight at 8 weeks and the roos were 10 pounds and the hens about 7 pounds...giving me nice sizes roasts about 5 to 6+ pounds. The different sizes gives me an option in terms of what I want to make. A hen feeds us for one night...a roo I have enough for soup the next day. Sometimes I don't want to have to bother with soup. :) The first couple of days you need to be careful with their temperature you have to keep them really warm and then you want it warm enough out to move them outside sooner rather than later. If I was back to teaching, I'd start them in the summer when I could be home.

Christine said...

I'm considering a batch of meat birds as well. I'd like to try to find some Freedom Rangers. Not as bulky as the Cornish X but they'll actually free range some versus laying down right next to the feeder and gorging themselves. Problem is, they're hard to find.

I would wait until it gets warm enough for them to be outside. All they do is eat and poop. It gets pretty stinky.

Rayna said...

Cornish X are awesome. Males fill out faster and can be butchered sooner, but you have to watch out for their legs blowing out. Happens fairly easily. We usually grow them out a lot longer than the 6-8 weeks suggested, because most of our family likes white meat, so we prefer a larger breast.

Laura said...

I've raised cornish x on grass for the past 3 years. The only problem with them is some of them will be unable to stand because of some inbreeding issues with their legs. However, I have only lost 2 to that problem (humanely destroyed), and the rest grew very nicely. I start mine out in a brooder in March, and keep them in an expanding pen until they have most of their feathers. Then they go out into the chicken hoop tractor, and get to be "real" chickens. I've always gotten straight run, butchered them at the same time (about 11 wks.) and have been extremely please with the carcass weights and flavor. The first year I did them, I got them late, and we had some really hot (mid-nineties) weather in June. I lost 2 to heat stress, 2 days before butcher day (dang...). That's why I start them earlier.

I'm also looking into the freedom rangers - I like the idea that they are available year round, where the cornish x are not.

Good luck with them - they are a riot!

Barb said...

As to chickens hiding their nesting spots.....after all the lush growth of the garden died away last Fall I found 40...that's F-O-R-T-Y eggs hidden hither and yon. This year I will be more observant. :O)

tera said...

I'm with you. We used to have chickens when I was a kid. Loved the fresh eggs and I actually even liked some of the chickens, but I draw. the. line. at plucking and cleaning a chicken, duck, goose, turkey - whatever. No. Thanks.

BTW, I love your Alvin kitty. What a nice face!

kristi said...

Matt,
thank you for stopping by! I am glad you mentioned not having to process all at once because I was thinking about that too!

Deb,
i will check out Cackle Hatchery. So your saying I should keep a few hundred pounds of feed on hand;)

Kara,
Oh that is so awesome about her! I know its all that fresh pasture you have....I wish I had that. 5# is plenty for me and dogs:) I actually was hoping to wait till school let out so I am glad you mentioned that. I hate overstressing at the end of the year in May.

Christine,
Yes, I want to leave them outside as much as possible too. Now I have to check out these Freedom Ranger;)

Rayna,
So since I like more dark meat, should I make them skinny;) Hey you haven't posted in a long, long time!!!

Laura,!
see, I did not knows that about their legs! Thanks for stopping by:)

Barb,
40 is alot of eggs! I am keeping an eye on those girls of mine;)

Tera,
thanks for stopping by! Yep, no plucking here! Alvin is honored to have a fan....he is quite a character:)
thank you for stopping by

Christy said...

I did the dark cornish, they don't have the leg problems and can be raised on pasture. They take longer to reach processing size and are much leaner than the Xs. I got mine from Murry McMurray. I got all males, it was cheaper that way.

ae1501 said...

Kristi,
I don't know about raising chickens, but the hiding eggs part had me laughing!