Now that all chickens are safely in the freezer, I can tell you. One hundred of them. I ordered 100, received 103. I lost 2 in the early stages, just general failure to thrive. Took 101 out to pasture. Lost 1 to an owl (I think – head missing, guts in a pile next to the body). For a grand total of 100 birds in the freezer. A death loss of 3%. The lowest death loss I’ve ever had was 20%. So finally, after 4 batches, I got it right.
And they had no leg problems at all, except for the one bird that presumably got attacked by an owl.
It was interesting that I only kept these birds 8 weeks instead of the usual 9, yet they averaged heavier than the other batches. Past averages were always 5.5 pounds. These averaged 6 pounds. 6 pounds (dressed!) in 8 weeks – amazing. Might have been the change in feed I made. Maybe it was just good weather for growing chickens, as another grower remarked today.
And even better, most of them are sold. We’re keeping 17 for ourselves to cook this winter. Have sold 50-some, leaving around 30 to sell.
Hope I didn’t jinx anything – the freezer could break down tonight or something!