Here we are, 5 weeks into raising these meat chickens. In my last post we had JUST received the chicks. The cute little yellow fluff balls. I was surprised at how much food they were eating (still SO much) and I was eager to get them out into the awesome chicken tractor that my husband built!
Fast forward to now. Some things have changed, some things have stayed the same! Let's start with that cuteness. It doesn't last long. They go through, er…, an ugly phase? Around week 4 I shot a little Facebook live video where I lovingly referred to them as my Frankenchickens.
I will say that a week later these meat chickens mostly feathered out. They still have bare butts, which is weird. My husband rigged up the heating lamp in the chicken tractor, so we were able to move them out of the brooder sooner than I had thought. Which was awesome because it was getting crowded in there! By moving them out into the chicken tractor they are able to be on fresh grass and eat any bugs they find. The other benefit was that I was able to put into use a much bigger waterer and feeder. I am glad I don't have to fill that tiny feeder 5 times a day. Seriously.
So, what has stayed the same? The meat chickens still eat a TON! At week 4 they had gone through 100 pounds of food. I only bought 100 pounds. Clearly I underestimated what I would need! And since they eat so much they also POOP all day. When we move the chicken tractor in the morning to a new patch of grass, the amount of poop that has been smashed down (not scratched into the earth as one might think because they are lazy and lay down ALL DAY) is incredible. And guess what? This epic amount of poop has attracted an even more epic amount of FLIES!!!! Like, an embarrassing amount. And I have no idea what to do about this other than wait until harvest day when they will stop pooping. But how long will the flies linger???
We have lost one meat chicken. The cause of death is unknown. However, this breed is prone to heart attacks since they grow so fast. We are hoping for 12 birds at harvest time. If we get 14 then YAY!
So, until harvest time, these meat chickens will continue to do what they do every day! Lay around, eat, drink, lay around some more, stretch, repeat. I did weigh one the other day because I was curious. This little guy weighed 3 pounds 6 ounces. I am thinking at harvest time they will weigh between 6 and 7 pounds. Which seems ENORMOUS because these birds are already big…and meaty!
They will be 8 weeks in the middle of November. We are hoping to harvest then. I will be documenting the whole experience with video and pictures so you can learn right along with me! People ask me if I am ready for harvest day. I have to be! I boarded this roller coaster. There is no getting off of it now!