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Ever wondered about raising some of your own meat? We find the chickens we raise taste so much better than the watery chicken we have bought at the grocery store.
Once we started raising a few birds every year, we were convinced raising our own chicks for meat was the way to go. Filling the freezer is pretty easy and it only takes 8 weeks from start to finish.
Now, almost every year we raise a few meat birds to enjoy all year around. We keep the largest two and have them at Thanksgiving and Christmas!
We think raising meat birds is perfect we wrote a book all about how to raise them – from ordering through to butchering.
Why raising chicks for meat is perfect for any homestead
We operate mostly on a seasonal basis here on our farm. We like having the winters free from daily work (as much as possible).
So we try to raise our livestock on a seasonal basis. Let me explain how that works for us.
In any given year, we may raise pigs (from weaner pig to full size) and chickens. If we decide to raise pigs, we buy them at the end of March.
They live here, pigging out eating our pasture and also eating vegetables we feed on a daily basis. They are butchered in November.
You can read more about raising pigs in your backyard here
When we raise chickens for meat, they arrive as chicks at the end of June. They are in the freezer by the end of August.
This philosophy of a seasonal operating means that meat chickens FIT RIGHT IN! It’s really quite perfect; raising chickens for meat is only an 8 week commitment.
So basically, you can pick whatever 8 week period works best for you. In warmer climates, you could get them in May and be done by mid-July.
Whatever your schedule, you can fit raising chickens around the best time frame for you.
Growing out Day Old Chickens for Meat
Since we try to raise about 85% of our own food here on our property, chickens are a no brainer.
We already have hens for eggs; the hens earn their keep by cleaning up our compost and manure piles and eating bugs.
Most years, we order in about 25 chicks from an Alberta hatchery. We buy straight run, which means we order them unsexed. It doesn’t matter to us if they will be roosters on hens.
We like having the choice of smaller and larger birds. Roosters will grow to a heavier weight than hens.
For eight weeks the chickens live here, first in our shop (toasty and warm) and then in their own room at the barn (spacious and clean).
During the day they are enjoying sunshine, bugs and lots of fresh air while they hang out in their fenced outdoor run. Evenings we lock them back into their attached room, safe from predators.
Meat birds are easy to raise and provide us with a lot of manure enriched bedding from both their room and the run. We add this to the compost and manure piles.
Once it decomposes, it becomes a fantastic fertilizer for our food gardens. Having old hay mixed with manure ends up being the most wonderful garden soil.
Want to learn about raising your own chickens for meat? They can really grow out to 8 pounds in 8 weeks!
Our Book includes everything from choosing which breed of chicks to order to setting up a homemade brooder to growing them out – everything you need to know is here. Order your book at the link.
Thinking of raising meat birds?
Here’s how we fill our freezer with chickens.