Chicken Weigh-In

The Jumbo Cornish Cross are getting pretty hefty.  Ryan suspected they were market size or getting very close to it.

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Jumbo Cornish Cross (JCC) at 6 weeks

 

We don’t have a poultry scale, so we did the next best thing and put our bathroom scale down on the barn floor.  Ryan weighed himself to get a baseline, then grabbed a JCC and weighed himself holding the chicken.  The JCC was 6 pounds!  They are 6 weeks…pretty incredible.  Looks like we’ll be tasting some chicken sooner than we thought.

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To compare, we also weighed a Red Broiler and a heritage chicken.

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Red Broiler (RB) at 6 weeks

 

The RB weighed in at 4 pounds, the heritage bird was 2 pounds.

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Dominique, one of our heritage breeds, at 6 weeks

 

 

Last week we had one day where the temperatures soared into the 90’s. We made sure all our birds had water available to them at all times.  The broilers in the pen had shade courtesy of the tarp.  Whenever we looked in on them, they were mostly sitting in the shade, while a few were drinking or eating.  All looked well.

Ryan went to check on them in the evening and to move the pen to a new location and noticed a couple birds looked motionless. Sure enough, they were dead, which is particularly disappointing considering we’ve fed them to market weight!  We lost two JCC on the first hot, summery day of the year while they sat in shade.  They must not have been drinking enough water to keep themselves cool and hydrated.  There was a third JCC looking a bit lifeless, so Ryan sprinkled water on it and dipped its beak into the waterer until it drank some.  The next morning that one was behaving normally.

The other breeds showed no sign of distress during the heat wave.

They remained active, drinking water and pecking about the shady spots around the farm.  Looks like we’ll need to add “mist broilers with squirt bottle” to one of the kids’ chore charts this summer. 😉  I’m sure the younger boys would jump at the chance to “help” the broilers.

Experiences like this is why many small flock owners don’t bother raising Cornish Cross.  We could just raise RB on our farm and repurpose the broiler pen for the rabbits in the orchard.

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RB in the broiler pen

If we want to try selling chicken at farmers’ markets however, the JCC is the best bet.  They can be offered at a lower price to consumers than the RB, due to less time and feed required per bird.  Based on other farmers’ experiences, most customers will prefer the lower-priced chicken.

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RB and JCC

 

 

We plan to order more of each broiler breed for June, keeping the two breeds housed separately.  We’ll write down how much feed it requires to raise each group to market weight so we can calculate the cost difference between the two, as well as know what our average cost is per bird.

It would be exciting to bring some chickens to market this summer.

Becca

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