Tag Archives: pastured poultry

The Life of a Broiler-The Last Week

We processed our last batch of chickens this past weekend.  Our broilers were exactly eight weeks and four days old on processing day.  We started early; around 5:00am we filled the scalder with water and got it going so that the water would be hot enough by 7:00am.  While the water was heating we had breakfast, drank coffee, set up the rest of the equipment and greeted friends as they arrived to lend us some much appreciated helping hands.

As soon as it was day light, the boys started filling crates with chickens and we were ready to begin.

Here is a picture of my husband holding one of the birds before it went into a kill cone.

Broiler chicken getting ready to go into the kill cone.

Broiler chicken getting ready to go into the kill cone.

All of our equipment is from The Featherman company.  I will show you our set-up.

I have left out the pictures of the actual processing, but I do feel that is important for everyone to know where their food comes from.

First, the chickens go head first into the kill cones.

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Next, the chickens go into the scalder.

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The chickens are then placed in the plucker.  I tell everyone that wants to raise and process their own chickens that if there is one piece of equipment that you must have; this is it!  This machine will have the feathers off of four chickens within thirty seconds.

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When they come out of the plucker they go onto the evisceration table.

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Once the chickens are eviscerated they go into tubs that hold what we call “pink water” (this is their first soak in water) and then they go into our large chill tank and stay there until we pack them with ice in coolers to “rest” before packaging.

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On this day we processed 151 chickens and 10 turkeys.  We started at 7:00am and finished at 1:00pm.  We had wonderful friends that came out to help us.

If you have any questions about the processing, please ask.  And if you are interested in raising and processing your own chickens be sure and visit the Featherman Company’s website.  It is a small business right here in the USA!

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Life of a Broiler-Week 7

The broilers have reached seven weeks of age.  Technically, they are 7 1/2 weeks old if you are going by the day that I am writing this post.  We have been so busy around here this week that I couldn’t get the post written earlier.

Next Saturday we will be processing the chickens and our pasture-raised turkeys.  I have a post coming up next week about our turkeys.

Here is a picture of the chickens.

Seven week-old Cornish Cross Broiler chicken

 

As usual, we move them every morning to fresh pasture.  Now that we are in the last week before processing (butchering)  we will move them twice a day.  Their feed consumption goes up and what goes in must come out.  We never want our chickens spending lengthy amounts of time in their waste and we want to make sure they have ample amount of grazing time.  I love to watch them scratch around in the ground and eat bugs.  Chickens were never designed to be confined indoors.

Here they are around the waterer.

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It is a lot of work to raise happy, healthy, vaccine and antibiotic free chickens but so worth it.

 

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Life of a Broiler-Week5

The broilers are now five weeks old.

Five week-old Cornish Cross broiler chicken.

 

This chicken decided to get up on one of the beams of the coop and hitch a ride while we moved the coop.

Moving our coops is easy with the dolly.  We place the dolly on one end, lift up and slide it under the pen.

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We then go to the opposite side of the pen and pull.

Handles are on the front and back of the pens for easy moving.

Handles are on the front and back of the pens for easy moving.

 

We currently have 150 chickens on pasture.  We have these chickens divided among three pens to allow for ample amount of feeder and grazing space.

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We have a Bell waterer on two pens and a homemade bucket waterer in one pen.  Both work well.  The pens are moving towards the woods.  If you look close, you can see that I was standing where the pens had been a few days before.  Our chickens are on green grass, out in the sunshine and fresh air and fertilizing our pastures all at once.  It is a lot of work to move pens every morning but so worth it.

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Life of a Broiler-Week 4

The chickens are growing.  Here is what they look like this week.

Four-week old broiler chick.

Four-week old broiler chick.

They love being moved to fresh grass each day.

This is a picture of them inside the pen.

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The fresh grass, sunshine and fresh air keeps our chickens happy and healthy.

Sorry for the short post, but we have been extremely busy around the farm.  I will be sharing some of our projects.

Hope everyone has a great week!

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The Life of a Broiler – Week 3

I am technically three days late on this post, so please forgive me.  We have been very busy.  We started back to school this week, built a new turkey roost ( I will have a post about this soon) and began work on a coop for our new batch of laying hens.  Busy, busy, busy!  But we are happy, happy, happy.  Don’t you just love Si?

Anyway…back to my post.

Here is what one of our broiler chicks looks like now.

Three week old Cornish Cross chick.

Three week old Cornish Cross chick.

They are starting to get more feathers and less fuzz.

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In case you have forgotten what they looked like three weeks ago…

Day old Cornish Cross chick.

Day old Cornish Cross chick.

They are growing like weeds and eating like little pigs.

They have been weaned off of the heat lamps and are out on pasture.  We move the pens every morning to give the chicks access to fresh grass.  We did have to put three of the smallest chicks back into the brooder so that they would not be trampled to death.  When you raise chickens, a brooder makes a great hospital.

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We let these little guys out when we are outside so that we can keep an eye on them.  Once they get a little bigger we will integrate them back into the flock.

Here are the others enjoying the grass.

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I love seeing and hearing happy little chicks.

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Life of a Broiler-Week 2

Our chicks are continuing to eat and grow.  They have reached the age of two- weeks old and we haven’t had any losses.  I am surprised but pleased.

Two-week old cornish cross broiler chick.

 

We moved one of our moveable pens that we raise our pastured broilers in by the brooder.  Since the weather is nice, and the chicks don’t need to be kept at ninety-five degrees anymore, we started moving them into the pen during the day.  We place the pen in an area where the chicks can get grit, grass and sunshine.  This also gets them acquainted with the bell waterers so they will know where to get water when they are moved onto pasture.

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The chicks have already eaten 100 lb. of feed.  Next week they should be out on pasture enjoying the grass and bugs.

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What do You Feed Your Chickens?

“What do you feed your chickens?”  This is a very common question that we are asked.  I don’t blame anyone for asking, I would too.  The answer to this question depends on what type of chickens you are talking about.  Right now I am going to talk about what we feed our pasture-raised broilers, a.k.a meat birds.

Meat birds have definite nutritional requirements.  Unlike laying hens that need a high protein diet until around sixteen weeks of age, meat birds need a high protein diet their entire lives.  Since our chickens are raised on pasture they consume lots of grasses and bugs.  We also give them a feed that is mixed for us following our own recipe.  Our chickens receive no vaccinations and are never given antibiotics.  Our custom feed contains probiotics.

Here is our recipe.  This will make 1000 lb.

305 lb. cracked corn

305 lb. ground corn

150 lb. soybean meal

50 lb. roasted soybeans

50 lb. rolled oats

50 lb. alfalfa pellets

25 lb. fishmeal

30 lb. Fertrell Poultry Nutri -Balancer

25 lb. Aragonite

10 lb. Kelp

2 gal. oil

Young broiler chicks on pasture.

Young broiler chicks on pasture.

Lucky for us we live close to a family owned mill that mixes our feed.

On our way to the mill we stop by a small, family farm and purchase our supplements.  You cannot buy directly from Fertrell; you have to find a local distributor in your area.  For us, our distributor is Yesterways Farm.

That's me standing beside the sign.

That’s me standing beside the sign.

Now, we head to the mill.

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I know the picture is blurry but all I had to use for a camera was my phone.  The sign says, Mauney’s Feed Mill, Inc.  Mauney’s is located in a little town called New London, NC.  It takes us about forty-five minutes, one way, but is well worth the drive.  Kelly Vick owns the mill and has never seemed the least bit bothered by all of my many questions.  Believe me.  I am always full of questions and if I was ever bothersome Kelly has hidden it well.  I remember calling one day with a list of questions and he kept me on the line while he used his cell phone to call someone else to get me the information I needed.  Kelly, Darrell, Beth and Marco (the four people that make Mauney’s what it is) are always great to deal with.

Kelly (left) and Darrell (right)

Kelly (left) and Darrell (right).  Beth wasn’t available and Marco didn’t want his picture made.  I didn’t leave them out on purpose.

The first time I contacted the mill about having our feed mixed Kelly had me email him our recipe to make sure that he could get our ingredients.  They keep our recipe on file which makes it as convenient as a phone call to schedule picking up a load of feed.

Not only do I like the fact that we are supporting a local family business, we are also supporting local farmers.  Local farmers bring their crops out of the field to the mill to sell to Kelly.  The crops are weighed and inspected before they are purchased. One of the most important things that has to be checked is moisture content.  Crops are stored in concrete so the moisture level is crucial to make sure mold doesn’t occur.

Area where crops are inspected before unloaded.

Area where crops are inspected before unloaded.

A few of our feed ingredients, (fishmeal, Poultry Nutri-Balancer, Aragonite and Kelp.  This is what we picked up at Yesterways Farm.) we supply ourselves.  On “feed day”, we bring our supplements and a list of the amounts we need added.  Marco always meets us and helps unload.

Supplements unloaded and ready to be added.

Supplements unloaded and ready to be added.

Since I had never seen how the feed is mixed Marco gave me the grand tour and I was able to watch him prepare our feed.  His only request was that I didn’t get him in any of my pictures.

Adding one of our supplements.

Adding one of our supplements.

Marco already had all of the ingredients that the mill supplies in the mixer.  He weighed out the supplements and so graciously weighed what was left of each and wrote it on the bags for me.  I need all the keep I can get when it comes to keeping things straight around here.  He even got out the sewing machine they use on feed bags and stitched the bags closed for me.  Of course I had to get a picture.

Handy dandy sewing machine.

Handy dandy sewing machine.

Here is Marco stitching up one of the bags.

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This is the only glimpse of Marco that you will see.  Half an arm and half a leg.  I told him he wouldn’t break my camera.

Check out this mixer!

Feed mixer

Feed mixer.  I couldn’t get a great picture of the whole thing but you get the idea that it is big.

Marco showed me the roller that they send oats through to get the rolled oats that goes into our feed.

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With the mixing underway I thought that I would get out of the way.

I decided I would go inside the store and see if there was anything that I needed.

No small business, especially if it is related to farming, is complete without a resident cat or dog.

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This is what the entrance to Mauney’s look like.

I just love old stores!

I just love old stores!

I decided I would take a seat in the sitting area that is a staple in an old store.

Sitting areas in old stores just says "Community".

Sitting areas in old stores just says “Community”.

Within about thirty minutes my 1200lbs. of feed was bagged and loaded and I was ready to go.

When I got home, my always happy helpers unloaded it for me.

Our oldest son, Noah, unloading feed.

Our oldest son, Noah, unloading feed.

Here it is all neatly stacked.

Feed ready for our next batch of chicks.

Feed ready for our next batch of chicks.

If you are in the New London area of North Carolina I encourage you to check out Mauney’s.  They sell pre-packaged feed as well as mix custom feeds.  Like their business card says, “When it comes to FARMIN’, let us be your GARMIN”. Before you go to your closest “box” farm supply store give them a call.  Even if it costs you a couple dollars more for something, you are supporting local families.  None of the money you spend there supports CEOs or shareholders.

Here is the contact information for Mauney’s.

Mauney’s LLC

40225 Hwy 52 North

New London, NC 28127

704-463-1331 Phone

mauneyfeedmill@ctc.net

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