Raising Chicken - Step by Step
Raising chicken on your small land holding is a great way to fill the freezer and make some money, too. Here's the plot, step-by-step, to raising your own small commercial flock.
- Locate a hatchery that serves your area. Your local feed store should be able to help you; they often handle orders for local hatcheries as well.
- Decide what breed to order. We strongly recommend you go with the standard 'white' meat bird available from your hatchery, usually a Rock-Cornish cross of some kind. We have tried so-called dual-purpose birds and were not happy with the results.
- Decide how many to order. If this is your first time, you should probably order 100 or fewer birds. Note that there may be a wait time before your birds are delivered; this can be up to 3-4 weeks depending on the hatchery.
- Get your equipment. Buy the equipment and supplies you will need right away - heat lamps, feeders, waterers, electric fencing, wood shavings, feed etc. Don't wait for delivery day, as many people may be looking for supplies on that day and the store may sell out.
- Build your equipment: broody boxes or a brooding area for the babies, and a movable coop of some kind to shelter the birds.
We built heated broody boxes to protect our chicks
- On delivery day, pick up your
birds and get them home and into your broody box right away. Put feed
(chick starter) and water in the box and set up the heat lamp; keep the
broody box at about 95F for the first week.
- Continue feeding starter ration
for about 4-5 weeks. You can gradually reduce the temperature in the box
by about 5 degrees/week until the little birds are fully feathered (3
weeks or so).
- Once the birds are feathered out, you can put them on pasture in their portable coop, secure behind electric mesh fencing.
- Provide feed and water twice-daily, and move the coop and the fencing at least once a week to keep the paddock fresh.
- Depending on feed, and how big
your want your birds, somewhere between 9-12 weeks they will be ready
to go to the abattoir. Book ahead; some abattoirs have wait times of
several weeks, especially during the busy summer months.
- Bring your birds to the abattoir
on the appointed day; provide processing instructions e.g. birds are to
be weighed, cut-up, frozen, etc. You may be asked to come back the same
day or the next day for pickup.
- Get your birds home and into the
freezer or cooler asap. Call your happy customers and tell them the
good news. And have your own pasture-raised chicken for supper!
We've made feeding your birdies easier with our free Simplified Chicken Feeding Guide.
Over the years we have evolved an simple way to feed chicks, layers and meat birds. Our birds do very well with this method.
Download your Simplified Chicken Feeding Guide here.
If you are ready NOW to raise chickens on your small property either to
put food in your freezer or some money in your wallet, you might want to check out my book How to Raise Meat Chickens.
A LOT of chicken raising information, plus plans for my movable coop and the new Hoop Coop.
PS: for an even better deal, get How to Raise Meat Chickens and save 60% when you upgrade to my Complete Start Farming Pack