First batch questions


11 Years
May 28, 2009
South Central, PA
My family has finally agreed to start raising meat chickens. We want to order a batch in the next couple weeks and are trying to figure out the pricing. We have 4 families that are going to pitch in, and each will get a portion at butchering. However, my family will be the ones caring for them.
Here is our plan:

We are going with Jumbo Cornish Xs from Murray McMurray. We are trying starting off with 25 straight run.

I found a great find on CL for a 10x10 fully enclosed chainlink dog kennel that we bought today for $75. It is in great condition and we are planning to run some chicken wire along the bottom.

They will be allowed to free range during the day too in the goat pen. We are also planning on doing the 12 on 12 off schedule.

We will be butchering and processing at home.

Now for the questions:

What kind of shelter should we provide? We were thinking of just tarping an area of the kennel off, or building a plywood box.

I know the chicks will need a brooder, but when can they go into the kennel?

In your opinion, what is the best age to butcher?

Anything else you can think of?

Thank you for the help!
I am not a chicken expert, but I can tell you that only 25 birds for 4 families is going to make you cry. We did 25 just for the two of us and we are already scrambling to figure out when we can raise more. Home grown chicken is AMAZING!
I started putting our meaties out at about 3 1/2 weeks, as it was warm and they were pretty well feathered. They were in at night, out by day, then I just let them stay out loose, because I have 2 Maremma dogs that protect them. They did great. I butchered ours at 8 weeks but I think they could have gone 10 easy. All finished at over 4 lbs. packaged, some 5. I made sure there was available shade and a shelter with a light they could get into if they wanted. It was sooo much easier than I thought it would be. Good luck, but I would sure order more than 25 birds!
25 is a good number for the first time.

See if you like it, then get more the next time.

Look at the pricing and the shipping costs. Sometimes there is a big price break when you go over 25, so ordering 26 will save you money (depends upon shipping costs).

You have to keep them dry, so a tarp will work, but only if it is water proof. A tarp will keep out birds of prey, but not raccoons.

I recommend medicated feed for chicks that are shipped from a hatchery. They are stressed and more susceptible. They aren't getting any immunity from their mother, which they obtain by eating her poo.

Check them hourly and make sure each one drinks at that time. It doesn't matter if they eat for the first day, but they must drink.

If you raise them right, you can butcher at 8 weeks.

When they can go outside depends upon the weather and their housing.
Thank you. We thought 25 would be a good start too, and each family could get about 6 birds. I know if this works out we will be doing 50-70 in the spring. That is the main reason we got the kennel.

Should they go on a broiler feed or can the stay on starter/grower after the first 2 weeks? We will also try to be supplementing some food with scraps.

I guess the biggest concern right now if figuring out a coop/brooder that will work. We have raccoon so I'm thinking we could take plywood and create a 3 sided box at one of the end. That would give them some shelter, but would keep the run space. We have a game cam out there by the chicken coop now, but nothing has ever showed up except a our cats and a deer. We keep cat food out at night on the other side of the yard so I'm guessing that an easy meal is better than one that fights.
You need to keep them on chick starter the whole time. You only have two months before cold weather will be setting in. I butcher mine around 7-8 wks and they will be weighing 8-9 pounds. You will need something that will keep them dry. Good luck. They will be well worth it.

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