Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cornish Rock Boilers - The Chicken Experiment

 Last October, I decided to raise our own free-range, organic chickens. My neighbor and I went into partnership with this adventure and would raise them for about 8-10weeks and then butcher them and split the chicken. I love to eat organic, free range poultry and we decided to give this a try. Actually, the husband was less than keen but he knew better than to argue so he relented.

We got 85 of these chickens. They looked like this.

Ours looked like this! They went from cute to ugly in a matter of weeks.

Getty did the morning feeding and I did the night. The neighbor did the cleaning. They are bred to meat and not for brains. I have never owned such dumb chickens before. They ate an enormous amount and didn't do much of anything. Tess was fascinated and she was delegated the role of putting the strays back into the coop. The cats loved to watched them for hours and we called the chickens "CAT TV".

But we kept feeding them and feeding them. They ate a lot of food and they pooped....like a lot! It all went into the garden and put to good use. Usually with chickens you start to see some different personalities but I didn't see any with them. But then again, I didn't try too hard as I knew they would go into the freezer.

About eight or nine weeks later, the neighbor came over to butcher the chickens.  We lost about ten due to various reasons so I ended up with about 34 chickens. I helped with the side chores but he did most of the work. We split the chickens and I put ours in the freezer. Over the next few months we had the chickens. You could taste the difference and it had a real rich flavor.

Each chicken weighed 3-6 pounds. The meat was very good and there was lots of it.

See the size of this breast. This was one of the smaller ones.

After this adventure was all done, we came to the conclusion that the chickens were very healthy for us and we tasted a difference. However, I calculated the feed bill and it came out to $3 per lbs. This does not count the labor or butchering. Would we do it again?  No, as it was very labour intensive and we didn't factor that in. If we wanted to go away for a day, we had to have someone feed the chickens four times a day and then remove the food for the night. The chickens are not allowed to eat at night.

But we did like the taste of free range, organic chickens but we will support the local farmer and buy from them. And Getty is quite happy that he is out of the chicken meat business.

We do have our farm chicken flock for eggs. They have a safe life life and get to run around and chase the cats.

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