First Experience with Meat Chickens

Last year’s trial of six hens plus a donated rooster has turned out well; all the chickens are friendly, interesting, healthy, easy to care for, and they provide us with delicious eggs, so this year we decided to expand. We now have six more chicks who will hopefully grow up to be layers. They’re actually a dual-purpose bird, but we use them only for eggs. They are cute and docile and growing well.

Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens Eating a Tomato

Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens (dual-purpose chicken) Eating a Tomato

We also decided to try raising meat chickens.   These are the birds that have the body conformation that consumers have come to expect in the supermarket – big and with an abnormally large breast. I ordered them because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to choke down something that looked different. Silly me. If we expand again next year, I’m going to order straight run (mixed males and females) and see what dual-purpose chicken tastes like.

These meat chickens (Cornish Cross)  gain too much weight for their frames.  You can’t even breed them naturally – they don’t usually live long enough and apparently even when they do the mechanics just don’t come together correctly. They’re lazy little eating machines.

All birds are messy, but these meat birds are just the worst. They eat a lot, poop a lot, they are dirty and yucky and weirdly shaped and apparently very delicate. Two out of the ten I brought home have died in less than ten days. Knowing that the conditions I’m providing are clean and warm and spacious enough compared to battery farming, together with the fact that these birds are just so ugly to look at is off-putting enough that I don’t think I’ll be eating chicken for awhile.

In contrast to these frankenbirds, the chicks we incubated ourselves are thriving little chickens now. They are outside in the Ark of the Poultry, eating weeds and bugs and being useful. I’m pretty sure we lucked out and got one cockerel and three little pullets.

Big Rooster Putting Finishing Touches on the Ark

Big Rooster Putting Finishing Touches on the Ark


8 thoughts on “First Experience with Meat Chickens

  1. Julie says:

    The Ark of the Poultry – love it! Out here they call them “chicken tractors” and roll them around to different patches for the chickens to scratch.

    So are you going to do the butchering yourself? That’s the part that puts me off a bit. Not that I’m squeamish, but I’m not sure I’d know what’s what. My mom has done it though, and talked about gutting a chicken by sort of pulling it inside out. Hmmm. Well, the fresh eggs sound great 😀


    • Sara McDaren says:

      My husband and I do plan to butcher ourselves, but I’m still trying to find someone willing to show us in person. There’s only so much you can pick up from Youtube. There are places that will process for something like $2 a bird, but that together with the price of the chicks, I might just as well have bought from the store. Plus, I really want to know how to do it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s