This week at the Green Phone Booth I am talking meat, or lack there of. We are one month in to going meatless for lent!
here it is . . . TEDx
2 years ago
Raising broiler-fryers for meat provides a quick return on your money, time, and effort. With the right variety of chickens, the right feed, and correct care, you can aim for a 4-pound bird on 8 pounds of feed in 8 weeks. You can figure that a 4-pound bird dressed will yield about 3 pounds of delicious meat (this includes bone).WHAT IS INVOLVED?First, you are going to have to decide whether you want to start with eggs that you incubate yourself, or whether you want to start with day-old chicks. If you are going to incubate the eggs, you will have to purchase an incubator and a candling device, or locate some broody hens and make a candling device yourself.Then you will have to decide which breed to raise, and order either eggs or the chicks.Before those eggs or chicks arrive, you need to build a chicken house, either from scratch or by renovating an existing building. You will have to equip it with feeders, waters, and a heat source. Next, you need to lay in a source of feed. Then, you will finally be ready for those chicks or eggs to arrive. But, it really isn't as much work as it sounds.STARTING YOUR BROILER-FRYER FLOCKThe best time to start your flock is from March until June. Then the weather is on your side. Day-old chicks, whether you buy them live or incubate them yourself, will need a source of heat for the first 6 to 8 weeks of their lives. Your costs will be lower if you wait for the warm weather. Although in this day and age, raising broilers commercially is a year-round business, you will need all the help you can get from Mother Nature. If you live in the Sunbelt, buy your eggs or chicks in March or April. If you are located in the North, wait until May or June to begin your flock.INCUBATING EGGS VERSUS BUYING DAY-OLD CHICKSHow do you want to start the flock? Do you want to incubate the eggs yourself, or do you want to start with day-old chicks?The incubation process takes 21 days and is full of perils, whether you use natural incubation methods (setting the eggs under a broody hen) or artificial incubation (in a relatively low-cost incubator).First, there is the problem of obtaining hatching eggs of the breed of chicken that you want. Unless you live within a reasonable driving distance of a hatchery that will sell fertile eggs of the variety you desire, the eggs will be shipped to you via Air Parcel Post. The shipping costs will be more expensive than for live chicks as 1 egg weighs more than 1 day-old chick.Only a small number of hatcheries that do sell eggs for incubating only will sell them in minimum lots of 50 or 100. All of the hatcheries that sell hatching eggs issue a disclaimer that they will not guarantee either the fertility or hatchability of the eggs. In contrast, any reputable hatcher will guarantee 100 percent live arrival of baby chicks, or refund your money.Hatcheries that do sell fertile eggs and will ship them, charge from $.50 to $1.00 per egg, with no guarantee of results. I have had the personal experience of having only 50 percent of the eggs I incubated hatch out. The national average for successful hatching is about 60 percent, although the makers of artificial incubators claim an average of up to 70 percent hatching success with their machines. I know of some small-flock poultry farmers who have experienced total failure in incubating eggs. Twenty-one days of anxious care and then, zilch!If you want to put meat on your table in as short a time as possible, you will want to start with day-old chicks. If you order from a reputable source, your chicks are guaranteed to arrive alive. And you will avoid the expense of incubating machines and the fuss of watching over the incubation process.There is, however, 1 strong reason to consider incubating eggs. Although the incubation process, whether by natural or artificial means, seems like a big hassle, I would like to say that it is not my intention to discourage anyone from incubating eggs. Although it is usually touted as a good project for rural children, 4H club members, Future Farmers of America, and science classes, there is no reason an adult cannot enjoy the experience of incubating eggs. The miracle of birth never ceases to amaze and delight me, whether it's the birth of a chick, duckling, gosling, turkey poult, piglet, lamb, calf, or colt.Whether you are incubating or starting with chicks, if you are a beginner, I suggest you start with 25 broiler-type chicks. This means that to be on the safe side, you will need 4 dozen fertile eggs, assuming that about 60 percent of them will hatch out live. Four dozen fertile eggs, at the minimum price, will cost about $12.00 with no guarantees. You can buy 25 day-old broiler chicks for about $14.25, guaranteed live arrival at your local post office. Be sure the fertile eggs you buy are for meat birds. A Cornish-Rock cross is recommended.