early morning at the chicken pen

Tonight we loaded up the broiler chickens and took them down to the processor. They’ll be butchered very early tomorrow morning, and I’ll pick them up after they’ve been cooled to about 50 degrees.

Strangely, I wasn’t very excited about spring this year. I wasn’t ready to start the garden, I wasn’t ready to start a new batch of chickens. But once they were here, morning chores became my most favorite part of the day.

You can see in the picture above how relaxed this batch of birds was. This was the usual scene. Some eating or drinking. Some resting. Some inside, some outside. Our new chicken shed ended up costing us more than we expected, but the difference it seems to have made in the disposition of the birds was worth it. It will be interesting to see if it holds true for the next batch. Some batches of birds just have nicer personalities than others.

We started with 128, and dropped 118 off tonight. That puts me at a death loss of 7.8%. This is good. I plan for 20%, and shoot for 10%. It is possible that we could lose one or a few yet. Some could succumb to stress overnight (we actually lost one in the trailer on the way to the processor), or sometimes the inspector will condemn a couple at butchering time. All are already sold, and have been for awhile. I have 54 sold already for the fall batch so I think I’ll up that batch to 150 birds.

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9 Responses to

  1. David says:

    How are your ducks doing? Haven’t heard much about them lately.

  2. Lisa says:

    I wish I could find a processor in my nect of the woods. I don’t mind doing the occasional bird, but can’t do large amounts.

  3. Lisa says:

    *neck*I’m a terrible speller. LOL

  4. That’s great, K! Congrats on your success! No more commando chicken farming for you! You’ve moved up in the world.

  5. Alan says:

    I agree with Lisa. I’d really, really love to find a processor within a hundred miles of me here in Florida. I love grass raised chicken, but I hate butchering birds. Growing them out is no problem……Alan.

  6. Sandy says:

    Hey, fun catching up!I haven’t visited you for a while :)SandyFor Reluctant Entertainers

  7. Bausie says:

    This blog is really cool, and wht a way that in a couple of years your kids can look back and say WOW. My Mom was real cool with all this farm stuff.It is a pleasure to work with you.

  8. David – I have four hens a-setting, so hopefully I’ll have ducklings to report soon!Lisa & Alan – we are so fortunate to have a state-certified processor only 30 minutes away, and another one about an hour away that’s USDA certified. Considering there are only 3 poultry processors in the state of Iowa, we are lucky to have 2 so close. I don’t know that I’d do chickens if we had to process them ourselves.Lisa (GA) – thank you. Now I have The Jeffersons theme song in my head :)Sandy – thanks for stopping back by!”Bausie” – ha ha ha, great new user id :)

  9. ~liz says:

    Hello from Pennsylvania! I found your blog by doing a google search for “araucana pullet picture” as we’re first-time hen owners and are suspicious of one of our araucanas being a rooster and not a hen.we have 15 chickens purely for laying purposes and are considering raising broiler chicks in the spring. your blog is inspiring!~lizwww.smithical.com