Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Meat Chicks

See, I told you I was going to get meat chicks this fall. And, I ordered 15 of them (plus a free rare breed, more on that in a bit!) just before the cut off for the season until January! Hatcheries do not ship during holiday seasons for obvious reasons... chicks need to be in your hands within 24 hours of hatching. Mine I tracked and they left Minnesota around 7:00 pm Monday and were in my post office by 11:20 am Tuesday. I didn't get the call as soon as they came in (bad phone!) but I picked them up before closing at 4:30 pm. Everyone was healthy and well and driving the post office staff up a wall with hungry peeps. Puzzle Boy was so excited and could barely wait to get the little fuzz balls home! We stopped off at TSC to grab some Save-a-Chick probiotic and smaller feed and water attachments since all I have is the big gallon sized feeders. I have to say I looked at these little attachments and then looked at the bottles that go with them (but bought separately, why?) and thought a mason jar could probably screw right in those. I've got those! And, it worked. Smarty pants over here.

So! I got the chicks and the kids in the house which is tricky if you don't make multiple trips. After I got Mini Me settled and occupied I set up my indoor brooder and prepped the water. Chicks are not born knowing how to find water. I mean, were you? Jeez, give 'um a break! So don't just dump your chicks in the brooder (aka a cardboard box) and wish them luck. Very gently (they just got flown across the country, have sympathy), pick up each chick and dip the tip of it's beak in the water. This one dunk teaches them how to drink and where water is. Cool right? This would be a total pain if you ordered 100 chicks but for 16 it took all of one minute.

After they have mastered drinking let them practice that for a few minutes before you introduce food. Sprinkle the chick starter feed on the papers for them to peck at and then you can put the feeder in. Let's talk about feed for a minute. I am raising these birds on certified organic feed from day one. This means although I am not a certified organic farmer I technically am producing organic chicken that could be certified. The feed I am buying is produced only 2 states over in Vermont. Score. Yes, it's more expensive then the feed store special that is full of antibiotics and pesticides, but really? Why would you want that crap? Spend the money, you'll save it in doctors bills when you don't get cancer and can still fight off infections. You are what you eat!

I have now moved the chicks to the barn stall and the set up while a little hobbled together seems to work fairly well for the moment. I have turned on it's side my unfinished TV stand and hung the brooding lamp on a nail. Then I have it covered with an old ripped screen (just a small hole) with a piece of cardboard over one half to help keep the heat in but not suffocate them. Then I weighted the covering down with paint can (for lack of a better way) to keep the cat out of there. So far so good.

I ordered all females because they tend to be more tender and tasty in the end result, roosters can cause some off flavors if not castrated (and who has time for that!). In about 6-8 weeks they should be at slaughter size as Cornish Crosses are the franken-bird that is bred to grow like it's on roids. I am hoping for them to finish out at around 6-8 pounds. Based on the reviews I read on the breed, this is entirely realistic. While this is ideal for a quick end of the year meat production it's like buying hybrid seeds every year. There is no way to perpetuate the flock, they are a one time deal. I will be researching dual purpose breeds to hopefully develop a breeding flock that will serve as both meat and egg producers. A girl can dream anyway!

I will update weekly to share how fast these little buggers grow. Day 2 and some of them already have sprouted feathers! Crazy!

Oh yeah! The rare breed chick that was free with my order...

What the heck. They sent me a Modern Black Breasted Red Game chick. What do I even do with this?! I thought, hey, it's free maybe it will be something super cool. Not cool! I don't mean to sound ungrateful and mean but, I do not plan on cock fighting anytime soon (what this bird was bred for) so I find it as a foreseeable problem. Darn cute as a chick though!

Til next time!

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