How To Raise Chickens For Meat In The Backyard?
Raising chickens for meat is a farming hobby that is very different from keeping laying hens. It implies much more emotional stress for a novice chicken fan, which is associated with the need to slaughter your pets when they reach market size.
However, since home-raised meat chickens (broilers) are larger and more delicious than commercially produced poultry carried by grocery stores, the practice is becoming popular and more people inquire how to raise chickens for meat.
The Big Question Is: Layers Or Broilers?
When raising broilers instead of laying hens, the return on the time and money you invest is quick – that’s the primary difference. Choose fast-growing meat breeds to have chicken on the table in 6-8 weeks. Breeds that provide gourmet meat will take up to 3 month. On the other hand, your layers will produce their first eggs in 5-6 month after you purchase the flock.
Also, laying hens need more care, as well as winter housing, roosts and nest boxes. As for broilers, protect them from weather and predators and they will be fine. However, if you have never before inquired how to raise chicken for meat, you should know that to have a fresh fried chicken once a week you will have to keep a big flock of more than 10 birds. Consider, whether you’re ready to clean so much droppings.
Meat Chickens: Just Feed Them
There are chicken breeds intended purely for meat and dual-purpose ones. The first will convert the food you give them into muscles much more effective. Expert farmers recommend raising the following meat chicken breeds:
- Cornish Cross;
- Jersey Giant;
Those who ask how to raise meat chickens should be told that the cost of home-raised broilers is unlikely to be lower than the price at the store. Commercial high protein feeds are not too cheap, but they provide the nutrients your chickens need for quick growth. Broilers eat a lot; typically, a bird of 8 weeks weights 3 kg and consumes 1.5 kg of food weekly. The body of meat chickens often grows faster than their feathers, so you should not ring the alarm if your flock looks “half-naked,” it’s normal.
Time To Harvest Your Flock
Meat chickens grow very fast, virtually shooting up. The following factors influence their grow rates, size and weight at harvest:
- Feeding regime;
- Gender (females are smaller);
- Age at harvest.
If all the values are optimal, at the end of the 8th week you will receive a 3 kg bird that has lived a fulfilled life and is ready to say farewell. If you are not able to butcher your bird pets yourself, find out whether there is a facility in you location, such as a killing station, where you can have your chickens slaughtered. Keep in mind that letting them live longer is not a merciful gesture, but a cruel deed. Growing too big, they will grow heavy breasts and are likely to die of heart failure.