Originally Posted by CanadianBuckeye
I agree with all those things- but they have to mature reasonably quickly, too. I like the gjensen rule of thumb- eggs at 20 weeks, and an edible cockerel before he (the chicken) crows.
I was thinking on this issue while I was outside doing chores.
We have a very wasteful society. We can't seem to be happy unless we have not only enough to satisfy us, but enough to throw away too. And I'm guilty of it too. We slaughtered some turkeys this week and I threw away the heads, feet, heart, gizzard, and lungs - because those parts still gross me out. The free range chickens ate the livers and testicles but they won't eat the rest. I understand the enormity of the need to feed the masses who live in the cities, but reality is that we throw away a ton of food. And people expect to have an enormous variety of the same type of product to choose from - they want to be able to choose which brand, which color. That alone causes the commercial industries to produce far more than is actually needed. North America could feed a good portion of the rest of the world just with what we throw away in our homes, our restaurants - not to mention what goes bad on cargo ships and in warehouses when there are fights over money. I heard on the news about tons and tons of apples rotting in the Pacific Northwest in the last couple of years after they were harvested. We actually produce far more than necessary.
I was at Walmart yesterday and looked at egg prices. They have come down some. But the sheer amount of eggs, not to mention the variety of brands available, was huge. How many of those eggs actually get eaten? How many people actually eat 200-300 eggs in a year - which is what folks want their modern hen to lay? I'm talking the average city/town dwelling person.
People generally eat eggs for breakfast and use an occasional egg when making a cake. Now I can use a lot of eggs, but I also make things like pasta, biscuits/breads, pie crusts and other ready-made items that most people buy premade at the store in boxes and cans. And we eat a lot of quiche to use up eggs. I purposely use more eggs than other people because I have them and want to decrease waste. Yet even with feeding eggs back to our birds, I still end up throwing away a lot of eggs that wind up so old that it's too hard to get the sticky dry yolks out of the shells so I can use the shells. And my old fashioned birds molt for about 4 months, they go broody all the time, and even when they are laying consistently, they lay every other to every few days unlike modern birds. Yet I still was throwing away eggs when we only had a handful of hens. If our society were more temperate in their habits and did not demand to have more than enough eggs to feed themselves and still have eggs to throw away, the commercial poultry industry would not need to operate in the manner that they do.
Meat is the same way. How much of it gets thrown away or goes bad before it is eaten? How many people turn up their noses at meat that have the *sell quick* tags on them? People now believe that the government mandated/encouraged *sell by* dates means that a product is suddenly rotten and they have to throw it away. I have a sneaky suspicion that much of those sell by dates and friends that way.
Most people don't have any idea how much they eat of different items because they no longer have to produce it themselves. They believe what the commercial industry tells them because they don't know any better. And these large corporations are making a killing on the ignorance of the buying public. There's a guy out in California that I read about who was changing his commercial laying operation over to free ranging, heritage birds. Last I saw, things were going ok for him. He had to change his business model some but it was worth it to him to have a more sustainable flock. Should be interesting to see how he does as time goes on. I believe that if there were not huge monopolistic corporations that were paying outrageous executive salaries and dividends to stockholders - to people not even actively involved in the growing of poultry products - small family farms could produce enough food for everyone and not have to rely on the genetically patented birds that commercial growers are required to use by contract.
When I look at people complaining that the old breeds don't do it for them production wise, I think their expectations have been tainted by the commercial industry's propaganda. But I also think part of it may be that even the old bloodlines aren't producing like they did 100 years ago because of people's mistakes. These old breeds were barely kept alive after commercial poultry took over. And the folks keeping the birds alive were show people that were more interested in pretty feathers than continuing their ancestor's tradition of making sure the birds were thrifty and lived up to their utility purpose because they no longer had to worry about growing their own meat and eggs anymore. So we're having to improve the old breeds to get them back to where they used to be at. The research I've done and learning from Bee and some others how they feed them and their families with their old fashioned birds - I think we're the problem, not the birds.
In regards to an edible cockerel before he crows - for my breed that is not possible - for the fact that my cockerels often start crowing at 1 month old. Now that I've spent a few years selectively breeding for production and not just SOP, I'm getting more meat at 5 months old. Enough for a meal for two people and depending on how we use it, sometimes leftovers too. My Javas also generally start laying at 5 months.