This is a summary of our experience with meat birds this summer. We bought 45 cornish x chicks about 10 weeks ago. We kept them on an organic broiler feed from day one on advice from our feed store. The first 2 weeks they were kept in a modified horse stall on shavings but then we moved them into a tractor my husband built. All 4 sides were hardware cloth and the top was half chicken wire and half metal roofing. For next year we will add some roofing over one access door since whenever it rained the feed got wet and we could not easily get the feed moved to under the roof. The things you do not think of. Having all 4 sides with wire was great because as they got older and we moved the tractor my young son could run along the back side of the tractor and the chickens would get up and away from him. We lost 2 chicks the first day and one chicken at about 6 weeks. He seemed to be having some sort of heart trouble maybe. But our chickens were very active up to the end and the processor was impressed by how healthy they looked. The tractor was kept in our side yard under our bedroom window. This was great because we moved it daily and our side yard is looking very green This was bad because as they hit maturity we got to listen to them every morning starting at 4:30am Our neighbors all enjoyed watching them grow bigger but were all sad to see them go. We only fed them their organic broiler feed. The processor said they could have gone another 2 weeks. They were 9 1/2 weeks when he came. We had been told to feed them 12 hours on and 12 hours off. The guy rolled his eyes and said we should just feed them all the time. He said if we use the same feed and type of chicken next year he would encourage us to just feed them all the time to get a little more meat on them. They all ended up about 5 pounds each. Unlike most of you we hired a processor to come process all the chickens at once for us. He was here for 2 hours and that included set up, clean up and conversation. My husband and I came to the conclusion we could easily do it ourselves but for $115 we would rather leave it up to him. The processor we used is a local guy who is 3rd generation. He slaughters cows, pigs, goats, turkeys, chickens etc. He came highly recommended by a friend. He has been helping with chickens since he was about 8 years old and he was fast. He would pick up a chicken, hold it's feet and wings in one hand and very quickly chop off the head. I know most people use cones and I am not sure why one way is better then the other. He held them until they pretty much stopped moving before moving to the next bird. Once he had 10 he would scald them, pluck with a machine and put them into very cold water in large rubber trash cans we provided. He would then take one out at a time, gut and then put them into another cold water filled trash can. He was great and saved me all the necks, hearts and livers for my dog. When he was done I had 2 large cold water filled trash cans with whole chickens in them. He told me to soak them at least 5 hours. Keep adding more cold water periodically. Then they can be eaten, frozen or put in the fridge for a day or two. This concerned me because all I have read on here is that you need to keep them in a fridge for 3-4 days or the meat will be tough. He said that this is what he has been doing all his life and what his dad and grandfather did and the only time he ever had a rubbery chicken was when he skipped the soaking. He said it has to be water so the body gets completely chilled, ice alone does not do the same thing because it does not get inside the body. My friend who had used him followed his advice and had one of her chickens after it had been in the water 5 hours and said it was great. Thats what we did. Besides I had nowhere to put 42 birds to keep them refrigerated for 3 days. They soaked in cold water about 8 hours and then we took them out, dried them off, vacuum sealed and put them in the freezer. That was this past Wed. I pulled a whole chicken out of the freezer yesterday. Today we finally cooked our first chicken and it had to be the most moist chicken I have ever had. Very very tender. Yumm!