Chicken is one of the more popular meats in the world, and as people look for more ways to become self-sufficient, it's one of the easiest and economical ways to raise your own meat source. Chickens can be raised for meat in a much smaller area than other typical meat animals (say, a cow), some types provide very high feed conversion levels (more meat on less feed), and chickens can be amusing and fun to raise, even if they are destined to be the main guest at dinner. This page will cover common tips and information regarding raising poultry for meat consumption, but also come visit the Meat Birds Etc forum here on BYC to meet other people who enjoy raising chickens and other birds for the table!
There are many breeds of chickens, ducks, geese and gamebirds that are utilized for meat consumption. This section will cover the more common varieties used, however, most all poultry and gamebirds can be used for meat.
- Member Brunty Farm's wrote a wonderful post in the forum regarding choosing a meat chicken breed.
- Ducks (coming soon)
- Game birds(coming soon)
While some people choose to have their home raised chickens processed at a facility, processing chickens at home is definitely a task that many can do. If you want to learn how to do one chicken or 100, here are some helpful links to get you started.
- Processing chickens at home can be done with minimal tools and some patience.
- There are multiple things that make processing quicker but are necessary, such as pluckers. Check out member "frugal"s post on how he processes chickens with additional tools!
- Coming to terms with killing your own animals for meat is a big step to take, and you aren't the only one who faces this.
Eating/Cooking Home Raised Chicken
Most of the chicken raised for consumption in the US are Cornish Cross, processed between 30 days (Cornish Game Hen) and 7-8 weeks (most everything you see in the store that is chicken). Raising "dual purpose" chickens for meat, and even using older roosters and non-laying hens for meat does present the need for a new look at how to handle and cook for the best flavor and tenderness.
- The ALBC has a pdf of the historical use and grading of chickens for meat that is worth reviewing.
- A summary about using Older Chickens for meat
- Picture comparison of some breeds/ages
Feeding and Care
Meat chickens sometimes require special care and feeding depending on your goals.
- What to feed (coming soon)
- Alternative feeds (coming soon)
- Feeding methods (coming soon)
- Housing (coming soon)
- Raising with other chickens (coming soon)
Meat breeds fall to illness just as any other breed, but we'll discuss some of the ailments that are more prevalent in meat breeds, and what can be done to treat and avoid them.
- CHF (coming soon)
- Green Meat (coming soon)
- Leg Issues (coming soon)
Many people find there is a market for home-raised chicken, this section will take a look at laws and tips on starting to sell your meat birds.
- A summary of the USDA Exemptions
- State list following the USDA or other guidelines (coming soon)