Raising chickens for meat and money

Raising chickens (organically, of course) is a great way to put meat in your freezer and some money in your wallet. At New Terra Farm, we have been raising meat birds for 18 years; we have figured out a system to minimize loss and maximize returns (and with less work too.)

Here's why you should consider raising chickens on your small farm.

Raising chickens in a heated broody boxDay-old chicks in our heated broody box

Why raising chickens is a good business

Is raising meat birds a good idea for the small land owner? You betcha! Some of the advantages:

  • Quick turnaround - 10-12 weeks from getting the chicks until they are in the freezer. This means a quick return on your money, and in most places you can do more than one 'batch' a year (we usually do 3.)
  • Space efficient - you don't need a lot of land to grow some chickens, even on pasture (the ONLY way, IMHO)
  • Raising meat birds our way does not take much time from your day; we spend about 5-10 minutes twice a day for feeding/watering, and about 20 minutes once a week to move our portable coop and fencing
  • Raising chickens is profitable - if you can control your losses (we'll show you how later) you can expect to net 40-50% of your sale price. In other words you can just about double your money in 10-12 weeks. Beats the stock market, eh?
  • And, last but not least, your own chicken from your pasture or big back yard tastes GREAT!
Raising chickens on pastureRaising chickens on pasture with our latest model movable coop

How to decide if this business is right for you

While I personally believe every small farm should have some chickens, you should do a little analysis before launching into this as a business. Some points to consider:

  • What's your market? i.e. how will you sell the birds, and how many do you think you can sell?
  • Where will you raise them? While chickens don't need a lot of space compared to other livestock, they do need some room if you are running them on pasture. For example a flock of 100 meat birds here on our farm eventually roams over about 1/5-acre (6 or 7 thousand square feet)
  • How will you protect your birds from predators?
  • Where will you get your feed, from a local farmer or mill or feed store?
  • Where will your birds be processed? can you do it yourself, or is there an abattoir within an hour's drive?
  • Do you have freezer space to keep a batch of birds until they are sold?
  • What regulatory restrictions are placed on you when raising chickens? e.g here in Ontario we are only allowed to raise and sell 300 birds annually if we don't have a quota from the marketing board. Check this out carefully to avoid problems.



Raising turkeys on pasture is a good sideline too

For further reading . . .


Learning how to raise chickens is not difficult, if you follow a few basic guidelines. There are a few key steps to follow and a couple important issues that you need to be aware of to successfully raise baby chickens into tasty (and profitable) roasters. How to Raise Chickens - Basic Principles

Here's your step-by-step guide to raising a small flock of chickens for yourself or for sale. Raising Chickens Step by Step

Here's how to raise chickens in your backyard for eggs for your own consumption, or on a larger scale on small farm or rural property. Raising Chickens for Eggs

Here's what you need to consider before deciding if raising chickens in your backyard is right for you. Chickens in your Backyard

Can you make money raising chickens for meat? Here's a sample of expenses and income taken from my records at New Terra Farm Raising Meat Chickens Budget

There are two main models for raising meat birds on pasture for the small farmer; day range poultry and the chicken tractor model. How do they compare? Day range poultry vs the chicken tractor

We've been raising meat chickens on the farm for 18 years or so. Over that time we have had our challenges getting the birds up to size and off to the abattoir. Here's a few tips to help avoid Troubles with your chickens

One of the best parts of having a small farm is watching the animals' behaviour. I get a lot of entertainment from watching our horses, pigs and chickens interact. You can also learn a lot by watching their behaviour. With that in mind, here's some lessons from the chicken coop (and one dumb cluck.)

If you are ready to raise chickens on a larger scale, either to put food in your freezer or some money in your wallet, you will need a coop. Here's the one we have been using for eighteen years. A Movable Coop for Raising Meat Birds



Get the latest from New Terra Farm . . .

Now is the time to start planning your farm for next season, check out the resources below  to help you make next year the most successful year on your small farm . . .

Bootstrap Market Gardening

How to Raise Meat Chickens

Pigs on Pasture

Build a Bootstrap Greenhouse

Create an additional farm income stream on-line