Processing Day Was TODAY!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by AngelaClassAct, Sep 7, 2011.

  1. AngelaClassAct

    AngelaClassAct Out Of The Brooder

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    Here's the story of my journey:

    Week of 4th of July - We started with 25, and lost 4 within the first 3 days, down to 21.

    Things went well, we raised them in our garage for a bit, and it was hot. Keeping them cool was a bit of a challenge. Being able to move them outdoors to their portable pen was a huge help there. Although we don't have a shaded lot, we were able to position their tractor to get some shade.

    Everyday I thought they were the most disgusting animals ever. They stunk, and they were lazy. In the last few weeks the crickets have been crazy in abundance, they couldn't be bothered to chase the crickets right under their noses to eat.

    Coyotes terrorized them one night, and the very next day we lost one. I think it was from stress. I processed it, and we ate it. It was rougly 3.5 pounds. Down to 20.

    When Irene hit, things got messy. It was cold, rainy and windy. We were not able to keep them dry, we think hypothermia set in, and we lost 2 more. Down to 18. We processed them, and will eat them. They were both roughly 5 pounds.

    Everytime a neighbor or a friend came to visit, they were so shocked to see how fast they grow. People who keep chickens didn't realize that these birds are so different than layers, and didn't expect the quick growth factor.

    On Sunday one had a broken leg, so I put it out of its misery. It was roughly 4.5 pounds.

    Today we processed the remaining 17 at 9 weeks of age. This was the 3rd time I've been on a processing crew, so I knew what to do. I actually killed a chicken this time. I wasn't perfect at it, but could do it again with more accuracy and less hesitation. I felt sick after the adrenaline wore off - that part was very stressful for me.

    Our end results, the largest bird was 10 pounds. The smallest was 5.1 pounds. The average was about 6 pounds. We ended up with 141.8 pounds of meat. We fed them 400 # of feed, which ran us $201.61 total. The price per pound ends up coming in at $1.42.

    I also fed our birds 12 hours and 12 hours off.

    Will I do it again? ABSOLUTELY! I wish we bought more birds. We won't have enough to get us through til next season. I can't wait to do it again! [​IMG] It was rewarding in so many ways, and a great learning experience for my husband and I. My 4 yo son also learned a lot in the process, and has just come to accept and understand that this is how we do things. He was disappointed he did not get to "see the meaties get processed." Next year we'll put him on heads and feet duty (maybe!). [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2011
  2. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Congratulations. If only I could talk my DH into assisting when my ducks get big enough. [​IMG] Lucky you.
     
  3. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

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    Sounds like you did everything very well and learned and adjusted, the important thing is that you did it well enough the first time to want to do it again. Good job once again.
     
  4. AngelaClassAct

    AngelaClassAct Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks everyone! I definitely want to do it again. In fact our neighbors are interested in having us raise some for them, and I have a few friends that are interested as well. We'd like more birds to carry us through until next spring, so I think we might be getting another batch here soon. We'll see!
     
  5. RWD

    RWD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Another convert!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  6. Stuart309

    Stuart309 New Egg

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    Sep 4, 2011
    Thank you for this very informative posting! I am extremely interested in the feed conversion ratio, so was interested to see that you process and eat your CX as they die. We have been hesitant to do this, and so we compost them or give them to the pigs.

    Since I try to learn from all the numbers that are given, could you please clarify the apparent discrepancy between the total meat you listed as 141.8 lbs, and what I came up with when I tried to reconstruct your experience, which was 120 lbs. Here are my calculations:

    Meat from the 4 birds that you processed and ate when they died or were ailing early: 3.5, 5, 5, 4.5 for total of 18 lbs

    Meat at time of processing 17 final birds: average of 6 lbs x 17 birds = 102 lbs

    Total meat 102 + 18 = 120

    Also, was the amount of feed used exactly 400 lbs, or somewhat close to 400 lbs? The accuracy of the feed conversion ratio depends on the accuracy of the feed number as well as the live weight or dressed weight number.

    Sorry for my fascination with statistics when it is a time to celebrate your great success!

    Stuart
     
  7. AngelaClassAct

    AngelaClassAct Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Hi there. I think I know what you're looking for so here's some more information!

    The final feed number was probably 390# (we had a little left that I just noticed today).

    That amount is for all the birds: the 17 we processed yesterday, plus the 3 we lost, and the 1 I slaughtered early.

    The total weight finished (no heads, fathers, guts, or feet) was 141.8 pounds of whole bird meat. This includes the 17 we processed yesterday, plus the 3 we lost, and the 1 I slaughtered early. I did not weigh the birds before they were slaughtered, so I don't know that figure.

    We only ate the ones that died because they died right in front of us, otherwise we would not have done that. The insides looked fine and normal, so I wasn't concerned about it. We didn't get sick or die the first time, so I think the other 2 we did recently are safe. We probably would not have lost those two if we moved them all under a heat lamp, but we took the chance and lost 2 a bit early.

    The average weight for each was 6.1 pounds - however they ranged from 5.5 pounds all the way up to 10 pounds (we only had one that was that big). We had a few 7 pounders and maybe 1-2 8 pounders. Most of them came in around 6.1. The way I got my total number was to weigh all of the birds (one by one), and that's where I ended up with 141.8 pounds of whole chicken.

    The feed ratio information is important to us, so I kept good record of how much we used and can say that I am very sure we used 390# from start to finish for all the birds we will consume. I started with chick starter, then moved on to broiler crumbles, and finished them with a 50# bag of finisher. I don't think I'd do the finisher again, I'd like to see what the birds are like without it.

    I hope that helps!
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  8. AngelaClassAct

    AngelaClassAct Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:TOTAL CONVERT! [​IMG]
     
  9. Stuart309

    Stuart309 New Egg

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    Thanks for the further information. The hard facts are that the feed used was 390 pounds and the total meat after processing was 141.8 pounds. That is a feed conversion ratio (FCR) of 2.75 for dressed weight which is equivalent to a FCR (live weight) of about 1.84 to 1.98 which is outstanding. I think you helped keep this number low by processing most of the dead birds.

    I think my confusion about numbers came from you saying the average weight was 6 pounds. I am guessing that you meant that most of the processed birds were around 6 pounds. Your real average of all 21 birds contributing to the weight would be your total of 141.8 divided by the 21 birds = 6.75 lbs. Or, only considering the ones slaughtered at the end, the average would have been the 123.8 pounds of meat from that slaughtering (141.8 total of all meat minus 18 pounds from 4 birds slaughtered earlier) divided by the 17 birds = 7.28 lbs. I hope you can understand my confusion about the statement of the 6 lb average in light of these other figures.

    Does this make sense [​IMG] ?
     
  10. AngelaClassAct

    AngelaClassAct Out Of The Brooder

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    Quote:Yes, because when I say the birds averaged 6 pounds the math doesn't come out correctly! We had a lot of 6 pounders, but the bigger birds, and counting the ones we did early and kept is also a factor in our numbers. And yes, processing the ones when they died helped out that average, as did processing the one early before it ran into problems later. At that point we had 3 days to go until processing day, and I didn't see a reason why I should wait when it was clearly suffering.

    Also, I don't know if I mentioned it, but these birds were raised to 9 weeks to the date. Not on purpose, but that's just the way it worked out with the schedules and our trade out deal with getting them done. We processed oursevles at a local farm in exchange for our time by helping them do theirs. In total that day we processed around 150 birds! LONG DAY!
     

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