Monday, November 3, 2014

My experiment with meat chickens

I've purchased meat from pastured poultry producers for awhile now, although I do revert to eating meat from the grocery store, too.  In an ideal world, I'd either raise all of my own meat, or I'd buy it all from farmers I know personally.  Actually, in an ideal world, I'd probably eat less meat than I do, but I have to consider the dietary preferences of my husband, too.  In an effort to have a more sustainable source of food, and because I find raising chickens endlessly interesting, I ordered 20 Jumbo X Cornish Cross chicks from a hatchery.  Whenever you eat chicken meat, unless you have purchased it from a farmer who focuses on heritage breeds, you eat a chicken closely related to the Jumbo X Cornish Cross.  It lives 6-8 weeks before slaughter, usually entirely indoors.

They were hatched last Monday, October 20, and put on a plane in Iowa.  On Tuesday, October 21, the post office called to tell me my chicks were there, and I hurried to bring them home.
Here's a video of me opening the box of chicks, and Mr. Schultz, dachshund, meeting them.

I have raised other chicks; this is a video of my adult chickens, and I am pleased that the Cornish Cross chicks do seem to engage in natural chicken behaviors.  They scratch and try to forage for food, such that they can in the brooder or inside this unused cold frame that I put out on the garden.  Here's a video of them in the cold frame.  Unfortunately, it's nearly November, and they are babies without feathers adult birds use to trap heat.  The air needs to be 90 degrees F for them to be healthy in during their second week of life.  I put them outside during the hottest part of the day, in direct sunlight, and I include a heat lamp if necessary.  Earlier in the week the high temperature was around 85 degrees F, which was perfect, but it's gotten cooler now.  Before I take them to the butcher, in early December (because I'm not able to manage doing the butchering myself yet), when they have all their feathers,I hope to allow them to forage more outside.

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