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Raising Chickens for Meat

Considering raising chickens for meat? It’s not as hard as you think! Keep reading to learn all about our first adventure…

We’ve been raising egg laying chickens for a couple of years now and we love them. So, in the spring of 2022, we decided to add raising chickens for meat to our little funny farm, too.

It seemed like a natural progression to move from egg layers to meat birds and we hemmed and hawed over whether we wanted to go with traditional meat birds or dual purpose birds. In the end we chose dual purpose.

The Australorp is the breed we chose because they grow pretty fast, you get the added bonus of collecting their eggs while waiting for them to grow and we already have several of this breed for egg layers, too.

Baby Chicks - Food Life Design

Our First Meat Birds

After picking them up at a local farm store, we got them all nice and tucked into a cozy, bedding filled brooder box with a heat lamp, inside our little shed/greenhouse that we built several years ago. And we thought they’d be safe tucked into that little coop, next to our bigger layer coop…

But, the local wildlife had a different idea for our baby chicks…

After a few weeks, a fisher found his way through the hard, polycarbonate window into the coop. Once inside the coop, he scratched and dug and bit through the hardwire screen that we had on the lid of the brooder box and proceeded to massacre almost all of our little meat birds.

Out of 22 birds, the fisher succeeded in killing 20 of them and we were left with just 2.

Of course, now, I couldn’t possibly kill those birds for my own benefit…

I mean they literally survived a massacre of their whole little bird community, right in front of their eyes, right?!

They’re a miracle!

Thankfully, being dual purpose birds, they get to stay and live with my other layers.

However, we were left with no chicken for meat and that was the whole purpose…

So, I decided to leave that one in the hands of God.

I asked for a sign that we were on the right path. Honestly, I wasn’t sure if we should try raising chickens for meat again…

New Baby Chicks - Food Life Design

A Sign from Above

That same night, we made plans to run to the farm store to pick up some electric fencing to protect the egg layers from the fisher and a few other random things we needed…

Read books because I always buy books at the farm store

And what was the only kind of chicken in the store when we got there?

Traditional Cornish Cross Meat Birds…that’s what!

Now, if that’s not a sign from above, then I don’t know what is!

So, yes, yes, of course they came home with me!

All of them came home with me, because they only had 15 left at that time.

The husband fixed up the brooder box and window on their little coop and we got them all tucked into their new home. This time, we had a 20,000 volt electric fence on our side and if that fisher made his way back, we were prepared for him.

Well, he did make his way back and we heard him screech a couple of times as he tried to maneuver his way around the fence, but the fence won. Eventually, he gave up on our chickens and moved onto greener pastures.

We haven’t seen him since.

The little chickies grew into full size meat birds after spending weeks foraging through the yard and enjoying their hearty meat bird feed.

And then, it was time to prepare the chickens for the freezer…

Raising Chicken for Meat - Food Life Design

Chicken Processing Day

We woke up that day ready to get the job done and after breakfast, we immediately got to setting up our makeshift processing facility in the backyard.

Cones for dispatching…

Boiling water pot for scalding…

Plucker machine…

Table for processing…

Clean water for rinsing…

Cooler filled with ice for cooling…

And we got started…

Processing Chicken - Food Life Design

The husband manned the dispatching and scalding stations, while I did the plucking and processing. It was amazing how easily it all came together!

In under 4 hours, we had completely dispatched and processed all of the chickens.

After a 24 hour soak in a cooling bath of ice, we packaged the chicken into shrink bags and moved them into the freezer where they will serve our family for months to come.

Our First Meal

Several weeks have passed since we dispatched the chickens and we’ve finally worked our way through the previously purchased chicken that was in the freezer.

So, this past weekend, I pulled out one of our chickens and roasted it in the oven, smothered with bacon grease and herbs from my garden.

I served this delicious, home-raised chicken with fresh tomatoes, country fried potatoes and garlic dill pickles that I recently fermented…all grown and raised in my backyard.

What an incredible feeling to know where all of your food was raised!

I hope, if you’re considering raising chickens for meat, that you’ll take our story of triumph and do it for yourself and your family. There is NO better meal than a meal you’ve raised, grown and prepared with love for your family.

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Have an Awesome Day!