Raising Chickens the New Terra Farm Way

hoop coop chickensOne of our 'fleet' of hoop coops for raising chickens on pasture

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 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 - 8-10 weeks from getting the day-old 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 weeks. Beats the stock market, eh?
  • And, last but not least, your own chicken from your pasture or big back yard tastes GREAT!

The picture above is from Merrifield Farm a few miles away from me. They raise a couple thousand birds a year. The hoop house is basically a larger, tractor-drawn version of my movable coop.

Raising chickens on pastureRaising chickens on pasture with our older model movable coop

How to decide if raising chickens 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.
turkeys in portable coopRaising turkeys on pasture is a good sideline too

More about Raising Chickens . . .

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

Raising meat birds organically, on pasture, is both environmentally sound and animal-friendly. Organic chicken farming can be a profitable business for a small farm.

Chicken raising can be rewarding if you follow the right steps to reduce losses. These chicken raising tips will help you keep your chickens healthy and happy.

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

Feeding chickens doesn't have to be complicated. Here's a simplified 'how to feed chickens' approach that we've followed successfully for a lot of years. We routinely put a couple batches of 5-lb roasters in our freezer, with very few losses due to illness or predators.

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.)

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