Last year I raised and processed about 150 birds. We put a total of 80 in our freezer, and the rest were sold to a friend of mine that helped butcher them. During the cold Winter months, I started to devise a plan to market and sell broilers to others. After many hours of discussing with my DW, we came up with a plan. We sent out 45 flyer with all our information on it, most of which where delivered to people w/ in a 5 mile radius of our house. It included a short summary of the operation and a order form. I was wanting to do batches of 100, three weeks apart. The plan was to have a deadline order date for each of the four processing dated I had established, 3 of them in the Spring/Summer and 1 in the Fall. All deadline dated where well before the processing date, which looking back, was a bad idea. I timed the deadlines so I could order the appropriate number of birds to satisfy the orders for that date. The first deadline came and went with only one order of 10. I didn't admit it to my DW, but I have to admit I was a bit dissappointed. Here I had developed this plan to do this and nothing came of it. I kept telling her, "Don't worry honey, it will pick-up." Despite only having this small order, I decided to go ahead and order 75 chicks. If nothing else, we would have birds to put in our freezer, is what I reasoned in my mind. That is why I started raising them in the first place. Second processing date deadline came. We were hoping for more orders, and ended up with 50 of them sold. Better than the first, but still not what I had in mind. In talking with the people that ordered, they had forgotten about the first date, and wondered if they could still get some for the first date. We told them there was still some availble (we didn't tell them we only sold 10). Then things started to take off. By the third date, we had almost all of the first sold and the second batch of 100 sold. With all 100 sold of the 3rd batch, I went out on a limb and order 150 chicks, which was more than I had ever done. We hoped to sell the remaining 50 after the fact. Three weeks before the 3rd batch, all were sold! Life was good! I built a Whizbang to aid in the processing, which was easier to justify, now having money coming in, and so many birds to process. Now we had a dilema. We had sold so many, we didn't have any for ourselves. We had a few customers ask about a broiler that was raised on soy-free feed. Having never done this, we decided to do a "extra" batch of 50 on a soy-free ration, that would be for us. After telling the customers that had requested them we were trying it, they were really wanting to try a few. We sold 15 of the 50. The feed was more expensive, and they didn't grow as quickly as we wanted, and went thru more feed than I expected. We charged $3 a pound for them, and ended up paying $.18/pound for the birds we kept, which we were very happy about. The deadline for the last batch came. ALL BIRDS WHERE SOLD, and we were turning people away. After some thought, I figured if I built one more tractor (I was already at 3), I could handle a batch of 175. It took no time at all, and all those where sold. We ended up processing 525 of them total and selling 492. The 33 that weren't sold either got beat up when plucking or where just not appealing enough to sell. I learned a great deal thruout this process, and I have enjoyed all aspects of it. I get a great deal of fullfilment knowing I am providing quality food for people. Not one time did I feel like I didn't want to go out and take care of the birds, despite having to lug 5 gallon buckets of water and 50 pound bags of feed about 300 yards. It was always the first chore I did when I got home. I would get so worked up the night before a processing date that i had trouble sleeping. As the season went along, each processing event got a little more efficient. By the last processing date, the average time from cone to chiller was 1 minute 36 seconds per bird. With only keeping 33 birds, I do have one more batch of 70 going right now. I am planning on doing those right before Thanksgiving, and that will be the end......for this year. Next year I am shooting for 700-800 birds. Over the Winter I am going to build another 10'x12' tractor, and retire my smallest one and convert to a brooder. After that, I will be able to do batches of 200. In an effort to get business, I sold my birds for $1.60/pound which I think is a bit low. Next year I may up it to $1.80 or possibly higher if feed prices continue to rise. I really wanted to do some Thanksgiving turkeys this year, but just never got it done, despite having some broiler customers wanting them. All in all it was a great year. Count down to 2011 Broiler season - 85 days!