Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Managing Meat Birds: Day 21

   This week our poultry meat pen hits the 21 day mark and the awkward phase. Fluffy little babies have morphed into half naked waddlers. As their fluffy down fades, their growth rate kicks into full gear causing them to easily overheat. In the crazy Texas temperatures, this can be a problem. Thus, the brooder frame is removed to allow the growing birds plenty of open space. Raising the side covers of the brood house creates airflow and circulation, especially during the peak heat of the day. As the month continues circulation fans will help cool them even further.
   Another 21 day task is culling. Birds that are plump and hearty are kept in small pen groups for the county show..they get priority at feed, water, and care. Due to schedule conflicts, none of our poultry are going to show this year, so our pens are simply divided for comfort and space. With their metabolism spurring a high growth rate, wet feed supplements their standard pellets. My wet feed consists of mixed grains (millet, oat, sunflower, flax and barley) lightly coated with fat (tallow from goat processing with a little goat buttermilk). This is given in small quantities once a day and gradually increased over the next few weeks.
   The pleasure of afternoon sun bathing is greatly enjoyed by the little ones as is their regular rolls in the dust bowl. A small pan of DE in the corner of their pen offers a great dewormer and bug control factor. To the disdain of some fellow poultry meat growers, my little flock gets daily walks in the pasture while their water, feed, and bedding are given a good cleaning.
   Though some losses have occurred, our drop rate is much lower than some years have seen and our system has become familiar and flowing. The stress and work of these weeks will be greatly rewarded as the freezer fills and the aroma of roasted chicken fills the farm kitchen. Nothing tastes better than food you grow yourself!
              

8 comments:

Dolly Sarrio said...

I admire you raising your own and hope to do the same one day. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Simply Scaife Family said...

Thanks, Dolly..I encourage you to give it a try!

Heidi- The White Wolf Summit FarmGirl said...

That is going to be some harvest. They look great. What kind of plucker do you use or do you use handpower?

Michelle said...

Wow you have your hands full.

Simply Scaife Family said...

Heidi, I skin my birds instead of plucking (we don't eat the skin anyway)..but when I plucked, I hand plucked them.

Kathy Felsted Usher said...

This may sound crazy but my husband and his friend made a chicken plucker where there are little rubber fingers that go round and round. You drop in the bird and in no time it comes out without a feather. We don't have meat birds yet- he does- but if we do decide to raise them, this method seems to work very well with no harm to the meat.

Mrs. Farmer said...

I can't wait until our chicks arrive! The price has gone up significantly around here, but if we can manage it we might make our first attempt at meat chickens this year. We did ducks last year, and it was great!

Simply Scaife Family said...

Kathy, that sounds awesome!