Posted May 24, 2015
I wanted to raise my own meat chickens after seeing the prices and hearing of the chemicals used to raise commercial chickens. I ordered 25 chicks from a hatchery and began the 8 week process of raising them and keeping them happy and healthy.
It was an experience, but a very good one. Keeping them healthy requires more than the draft free, dry shelters. Non-medicated feed is what you should use. Tons of fresh water, and lots of time to wander in the backyard before locking them in at night to protect them from predators.
You can't go on vacation while you are raising backyard chickens. One thing we learned about this breed is at the five day old mark, you must remove their food at night and return in the morning. The reason being is they will continue to eat. By the time the chicks were 4 weeks old, they were so chunky having a few along a baby pen would make the pen bend and they could waddle out of the "play area".
Ensuring they get proper exercise to prevent health issues is another reason you must be very active in their care. These chicks are not interested in moving around much. They prefer to sit, literally sit, in one area and eat.
When it was time to butcher, each chicken weighed at least 5 pounds dressed. We were able to fill the bottom portion of our deep freezer with 50 huge chicken breasts and 50 decent sized drummies. This was enough for a few family BBQ's, and a winter for my husband and I. Very healthy, very fresh and definately good for you!
I made sure to keep receipts to measure the expenses we incurred. We found with feed, one bottle of medicine and the hatchery costs to buy the chicks, we averaged out to $2.56 a pound. All breasts and drummie meat, too. Our favorite.
Overall, this was an excellent project that proved manageable and worthwhile.