Thinking About Meat

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Chiks N Stiks, Feb 6, 2015.

  1. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2015
    Out In The Sticks

    I am thinking about getting some meat birds. My boys think they want to butcher. Aside from the "let's try it and see" experience my kids want, I would like to know if raising my own chickens for me is cheaper -- really cheaper -- after cost of feed and equipment (maybe an ax... I don't know). I am interested in saving money. It seems like a pretty quick turn around for chicks? I read in the forums about 16-20 weeks for butchering age? So then, I would need to be buying chicks routinely, if I really wanted to grow my own chickens for butchering? A chick from the breeder is cheaper, much cheaper, than a chicken from the grocery store...
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. .....

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Cost effectiveness depends on what you are factoring into the "savings". Are you wanting a comparison to the cost of the general chicken from the grocery store which is the factory farmed stuff or do you buy organic meat that would have a higher price tag to be comparing to the cost of raising your birds. Ultimately, cheaper is usually not so much the selling point of raising your own as it is that you know what is going into your food, you are in control of the life they have pre-butcher, etc.
    16-20 weeks has me thinking you must be looking at dual purpose type breeds vs. "meat" birds. Most of the "meat" specific type birds are butchered earlier - for Cornish X it would be in the 8 week range and for the Pioneer/Ranger type you would be looking at 12+ weeks.
  3. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2015
    Out In The Sticks
    Cheaper Comparison -- the grocery store factory farmed stuff.

    I'm a divorced mom. No help from the ex. So, cheaper is really kind of a good thing. I would like to buy to a better quality of meat from the grocery store, but can't. Growing a better quality myself is attractive, but being on my own, I do have to consider the time investment. So I need there to be a financial savings as well. I already have coops and a run built.

    Anyway, I am not sure what is better, strictly meat or dual purpose. From what I can tell, the strictly meat breeds don't self-propogate well. I'd kind like them to make babies and raise them. Still, buying chicks every few weeks seems cheaper than grocery store chicken, from what I can tell. Even the cheap factory farm stuff at the grocery store is about $7.00-$8.00/bird. I don't think raising my own would cost that much?
  4. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Songster

    Jun 10, 2014
    You've got no shot of saving money with heritage breeds - they take too long to mature and eat too much food doing it - conversion rates come out in the 6-10lbs of food per pound of meat range.

    You might have a shot with Cornish Cross.

    10 week old Cornish Cross are about 8lbs, have eaten 20lbs or so of food each, and an order of 25 will cost you about $3/bird with shipping included (Cackle is $78/25 shipped right now). - that comes out to about $9-10/bird at 8lbs of carcass. That's absolute everything goes perfect and you ignore all the capital expenses (like coop/tractor, waterer, feeders, grit, supplements), and bird losses/deaths. You'll never actually hit that number - and some of those capital expenses can be large.

    You may save some initial cost with the "Frying pan" chick specials with dual purpose roosters, but you're going to more than pay for that in food costs - and obnoxious cockerels that aren't big enough to slaughter yet, but are crowing and killing each other.

    I think if you look at the broader picture, and not just meat, it's worth it though. I kind of look at it as for every 50lb sack of feed at $14 (plus $9 in chick costs) I buy, I get 15-20lbs of chicken, a couple gallons of chicken stock, 15-20 lbs of chicken manure that ends up in the compost pile/garden/and eventually the soil, and untold number of ticks, mosquitos, coddling moths, oriental fruit moths, and other things taken care of. The chickens spread the manure from other animals.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2015
    1 person likes this.
  5. Chiks N Stiks

    Chiks N Stiks In the Brooder

    Feb 3, 2015
    Out In The Sticks
    So I'll just about break even, excluding the time and work it takes to catch, kill, pluck, butcher, and package for freezing, and have a few side bennies like pest control, which out here is kind of a big deal.

    Thank you for the frank analysis. I am pretty much a bottom-line person. And yes, I agree there are more advantages to chickens than just meat, which do add the overall value. When we first moved out here, it was summer. No one had lived here for almost a decade. The bugs were UN-believable. The very next summer, WITH only a very few chickens and guineas, almost no bugs at all. I also did not have to mow as often. My birds free range a lot and they ate the grass and weeds. That also reduces feed costs. Grasshoppers are free. Grit is everywhere; I live in sand. Most of the capital expenses are done now. I'm just looking at meat. If I buy 7 birds from the grocery store ($49 at best), I get about 30 - 35 pounds of meat and about 3-4 gallons of stock, if I am lucky. It looks like your chicken costs you about 1.15 - 1.50 per pound. Mine at the grocery store are about the same. Though, I have heard with free ranging, I'll end up with tough meat. I was advised to stop free ranging 2-3 weeks before processing. As you said, if everything goes absolutely perfect, and that never happens. So there will be additional "learning curve" associated costs for me as this is my first time. I just checked my buying source. With shipping, $2.34/chick for 25. They charge a $7.00 small order fee. [​IMG] 58.50 total. Not bad. But, you're right, not much savings on a pure dollar to dollar basis. I plan to start out with maybe 4 or 5 chicks to see how it goes. I'd rather have the learning curve on a lower investment.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    I would suggest that you check your local feed stores, even the small hardware stores for options to buy chicks. Since you'll not be raising 25 at a time, unless you can find someone to split the order with, you'll end up paying a premium for a few chicks. One local feed store in my state sells CXR for 1.99 each. And that's males. You can cut your feed bill considerably by giving your birds fermented feed. On 2 separate
    occasions, I teamed up with different neighbors to raise birds together. One year, we bought 25 CXR and 25 mini-leghorns. I brooded the layers, and the neighbor brooded the broilers. We kept all receipts, got together on butcher day, weighed and divided the meat and costs, then We each ended up with a freezer full of meat and a dozen layers. An other year, I brooded 25 CXR, and a neighbor showed up on butcher day. We split the labor and costs, and each filled our freezers.
  7. jeffreynlila

    jeffreynlila In the Brooder

    Feb 19, 2011
    I have done Cornish cross 4 different times. Each time I do it the cost of the meat is slightly higher than at the store, for the cheap meat. If you compare the quality you get with the cheap meat it is like a different animal. My meat is much better. My wife will not eat grocery store chicken because she says it tastes bad. She does like our meat birds. The meat is tougher though. I butcher them myself, skin them and cut off the meat. These birds poop a lot! They will be sitting there and poop and not even move. I will keep doing it for years.

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