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GaryD

Broiler Chickens

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Nick.....we get our day old chicks from a bloke at Peaks Crossing. If that's within reach for you PM me and I'll find you a phone number.

Jimmie......since broiler chickens need about four weeks on supplementary heat (particularly at this time of the year), I suggest that you build a brooder pen of about 1200mm by 1200mm (4' x 4'). This will be large enough to keep the chickens in until they no longer need heat.

For rearing them out to processing age (from six weeks onwards if you feed them a commercial ration), you need a shelter of about 1800mm by 1200mm (6' x 4').....for use as a night quarters. Attach a small strawyard.

You can make the strawyard using 1800mm by 1200mm sheets of Handimesh secured to each other by heavy duty zip ties.

The best housing option for broiler chickens (indeed any chickens) is a chicken tractor.

Sorry 'bout the delay in answering these questions......I've been otherwise engaged.

Gary

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thanks gary but a little out of my way at the moment.

Also for a brooding box i have had the thought that you could get a pallet from any where and then those thick cardboard boxes they use for pumpkins and such and use one of those with another on the floor(possibly covered with something initially to stop splayed legs) and then hang a brooding light over the top.

Cheap, easy and able to be binned or burnt at the end of the brooding period.

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Hi Nick,

You're right.....a recycled pumpkin box on a pallet would be good. Use wood shavings or shredded paper (even better) for the deep litter. Splayed legs are (more often than not) the result of a dietary deficiency in the breeding stock.

You need to cover the top to prevent access by rats or cats.

When we first began raising broiler chickens (too many years ago) we used galvanised steel round sections as brooder surrounds.

Gary

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Hi,

Today, we harvested the remaining 8 broiler chickens (out of the original 25).

They were 79 days old. They dressed out at 21.5kg – top weight of 2.9kg and low end weight of 2.2kg…..average of 2.65kg.

In the coming days. I'll tally up the total cost and give you a $ per kg.

Gary

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Hi,

I did the sums on the total 25 chickens.......they produced 47.4kg of chicken meat for a total of $201.05.....($161.05 for feed, $40 for the day old chicks and $6.00 for power to keep them warm during the first 3 weeks).....$4.36 per kg.

Gary

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Guest sillyoldfart

Humm. Bit surprised at that cost Gary.

Would have thought it would have been substantially lower than "supermarket" cost bearing in mind there's no transport costs.

What's an average supermarket chock, size 14, about 1.4kg and about $10?

Still, at least you haven't had to pay for antibiotics and hormones.

I'd hate to think I was paying to develope cancer.

Any way to bring the cost/kg down do you think?

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Hi SOF,

I agree that it's more expensive than I want it to be.

Having said that, I guess it should really be compared with a premium product like free range chicken since our chickens were only kept in a small social group and got to spend their days walking around outside.

We also fed them greenfeed and cracked corned (in addition to the pellets).

My next batch will be fed an organic ration that we'll get from Toowoomba so that will make them organic and free range......and probably slightly more expensive. They'll be fully organic and free range so they should be compared with similar products at the supermarket.....probably in the order of $9.00kg (or more) so we'll be clearly in front at that stage.

Ultimately, I want to be able to provide most of their ration myself so I'm thinking of using duckweed and Black Soldier Fly larvae (to provide the protein and fat) mixed with sprouted (or softened) grain.

If this proves successful, we'll have cheap organic and free range chicken meat.....the best kind.

Gary

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Guest sillyoldfart

Point taken Gary and probably a fairer comparison.

Please keep us posted, I'm all for providing as much food for my table as possible from my own backyard

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Hi,

We picked up another 24 meat bird chicks today.

I had planned to feed this lot on organic rations from the outset but I haven't had the opportunity to get to Toowoomba to buy it....so I've started them on ordinary proprietary rations.

In this photo, they are two days old.

Gary

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Hi,

These broiler chicks were three weeks old last Thursday. We've stopped providing supplementary heat.

At the end of this week, they will go out into the little hut and strawyard that we use to finish them.

Gary

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When you get closer to having to slaughter and process your own broiler chickens, I'll get into more detail. For the moment, however, the important details include:

  • The best way to kill a chicken for processing is to cut its throat - by drawing a sharp knife across either side of its neck. If you are uncertain about this, you can simply chop its head off with a clean axe. While some might argue that this method may not allow for complete bleeding out of the bird, I've never had it happen.
  • Once you remove the bird's head (or cut its throat) the bird is, for all intents and purposes) dead. The violent struggling that ensues is post mortem and is caused by muscle spasm.
  • To ensure optimum food quality, process your chickens as quickly as possible after they are dead. Scald them immediately they stop struggling.
  • 65 degreesC - is the optimum temperature for scalding your dead birds for easy feather removal - much lower than this and the feathers will be hard to remove and much higher and the skin will tear and the bird won't keep quite as well.
  • The feathers should be easy to remove by hand. Work quickly and rinse the carcase in chilled water to remove any loose feathers.
  • Evisceration (removal of the internal organs) is easy enough but you'll benefit from seeing it first hand (or from some photos) before you attempt it yourself.
  • The two things to avoid when removing the guts is knicking the digestive system and spilling undigested food/chicken poop on the meat.....and breaking a little green sac (the bile duct) attached to the liver. If you spill bile on the meat it will become very bitter and inedible.

That's probably the key things to remember about killing and processing chickens.

I'll take some photos of the whole process as I do the remaining broilers during the next couple of weeks.

In the meantime, feel free to ask any questions that you may have.

Gary

Hi Gary,

I would love to join the Royal Order of the Chicken Raiser.

Thanks for pointing me to this thread. It contains much valuable info including my BIG question regarding "Evisceration"

Did you ever get around to taking some photo's of the "Evisceration" process?

This is my only reservation. I know it won't be pretty but if you are prepared to post some pics and step by step how to info on processing I would be appreciative.

I have had to kill old layers when I was young but that was very different... just a neck breaking exercise, no blood or Evisceration....!

Miki, Can you share any experiences from your first or subsequent attempt at raising and processing broilers.....?

Thanks

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Hi Martin,

Yes.....I will provide some photo-guidance on killing and processing chickens.

I had intended to take some photos the last time we raised some broilers but "she who must be obeyed" refused to take the shots.

We're about to start another batch within the next couple of weeks. I'll organise another photographer.

Gary

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Guest Miki

Hi Martin, welcome to the BC club. As we have just moved to this property there have been a lot of priorities other than broiler chickens, however last weekend we finally acquired our first lot of day old chicks, 13 to be exact. So at present we are just keeping up the feed (they eat heaps) and water and watch them grow.

When we moved we 'inherited' a rooster and hen, added a couple of australorp girls and acquired a lot of experience in the handling, treating and keeping of them in general which may be handy with this new lot.

I will keep you posted on how this lot of BC's go, we might just keep the girls and put the boys in the freezer.

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Thanks Miki,

Ahh the Northern Rviers NSW.... brings back fond memories. I lived in the region for 4 years back in '89 whilst doing a Business Degree at Southern Cross (formerly UNE). Nice part of the world although a lot busier these days than I remember!

When you say you might just keep the girls do you mean the girl BC's? Not sure why you would do this? Aren't they all destined for the freezer?

Any insights into things you learn during your first batch is greatly appreciated.. Thanks.

Having a comparatively small Sydney suburban backyard I am going to probably embark on the layer chooks first and then add the BC's to the list later on. I have a small corner of the garage in mind already. Not sure what the wife and neighbours will think when I start slaughtering them :o. One taste test and I reckon' they'll get it :)

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Hi Miki,

if you keep the female broiler chickens for layers, don't expect them to lay too many eggs. The commercial hatcheries use a completely different genetic line for each of their breeding cockerels and pullets.

When you cross their progeny, you don't get the same laying outcome. The hens will become huge.

If you want to go down that track consider a utility breed and if you want to be able to sex the chicks by colour, use two breeds which have an autosexing capacity......like (for example) a Rhode Island Red cockerel over Light Sussex hens. This cross will produce buff-coloured female chicks and silver (yellow) male chicks. There are other similar autosexing crosses that you can use, too.

Gary

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Guest Miki

Hello Martin and Gary,

What I omitted to mention in my last message was that the chicks I finally managed to get - with much difficulty - were through someone who breeds all sorts of chooks plus heaps of other birds (even parrots) and has a piggery... I won't go off on a tangent, hopefully, as I am very interested in just about anything you can grow/breed and in general keep on a 20+ property.

So what I ended up with was with 13 chicks of all sorts which of course has intrigued us all (my youngest daughter was unbelievably happy to find out that at least two of the chicks are of the hairy/feathered sort and one is a Barnevelder). So you see, its already becoming difficult. We'll have to see how this turns out but next time round the chicks will have to be of one sort.

Yes, Martin, this area must be busier than it was when you were here. It still is a lovely area and we are so lucky that we have found this bit of land. Where in the world can you have wallabies in the back paddock and once in a blue moon have to stop for a koala or a turtle crossing the road! Its holiday all year round (almost).:cool::)

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Hi,

Several weeks ago, we purchased our most recent batch of 24 day old broiler chicks. This was like other batches except that we had picked them up a five days of age instead of the usual day old.

Yesterday, we processed five chickens......they were all that remained of the two dozen chicks that we'd purchased weeks earlier. They had died at the rate of two to three per week.

We were confused about the cause of the deaths initially. For at least two weeks, we believed that we had contracted a disease that was slowly killing the birds. Every few days, one or more of the birds would be looking a bit droopy and 24 hours later they would be dead.

After the first couple of weeks, we contacted the supplier of the chicks to see if any of his other customers had reported issues. A chance question about brooding prompted the supplier to comment that he only placed the chicks under a brooder if the weather was cool.

Bingo!.....we had the reason for our premature deaths. The chicks were five days old when we picked them up.....so they had been thoroughly chilled before we got them. Chicks that are chilled during their first few weeks of life, fail to thrive. They grow more slowly....and their immune system fails leaving them susceptible to disease.

Newly hatched chicks should be placed under brooder immediately they leave the incubator. They should be maintained at 35 degrees C for the first week.....with the temperature being decreased 5 degrees C each week thereafter until their fourth week. At this time, in warmer weather, the use of the brooder can be discontinued.

GaryD

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Hi,

We're three weeks into our latest batch of meat birds.

We started with 25 but lost one on the second day.

Tonight is the first night that this lot will have been off the brooder. In about a week's time, we'll move them outside for their remaining four weeks or so.

Gary

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Hi,

I spent several hours today setting up a strawyard and a shadecloth cover for our current batch of meat chickens. They are almost four weeks old (next Monday) and they've been off the heat for the past five days.

Tomorrow, they go into their new housing. Photos later.

Gary

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HI,

Our broiler chickens are five weeks old on Monday. We weighed one this morning and it was 1.3kg liveweight.....so everything's going according to plan.

The birds have adapted to their new quarters well.....and to the cracked corn that becomes part of their diet for the last four or five weeks.

Gary

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