Friday, July 23, 2010

Yard Birds

A former coworker of mine always called chickens yard birds. I guess it's a common term, but he's the only one I know who said it. It give me a small chuckle when I hear it. It doesn't take much to amuse me.

It's been a while since I've done a broiler update , so I wanted to show you a few pictures I took last night. I'm sorry they're slightly blurry, but it was getting dark. These are the broilers I'm raising for my sister. They're now 9 weeks old. They're going to be about 10.5 weeks when they're processed, which is a little older than normal for broilers (who are usually processed between 6 and 8 weeks). Becky is coming for a visit soon, so we wanted to time her visit with their processing date so she can help out. I think I'm more excited about it than she is, but I'm sure she'll do fine.

The broilers are still doing really well, despite their large size. Many people think these Cornish X broilers always get lame or keel over and die at the drop of a hat, but it's really not true if they have proper management. I started letting these birds free range when they were about 4-5 weeks old. I started them in a brooder pen in the barn, then moved them to a 'tractor' when they were 4 weeks (and completely feathered out). I left them in that pen for about a week, then let them free-range- partly because it was so hot out (and I wanted them to have shade in the woods) and partly to keep them strong and healthy, so they could run around and build muscles. I'm also not feeding them 24/7 like some people do. They get fed in the morning and in the afternoons, and they gobble up all the feed and then free-range the rest of the day. I wanted to make sure they didn't grow too fast, since they'll be living longer than they're "supposed to".

I lost a few of them during shipping and 1 day later, and only lost 1 when they were "grown" to what I suspect was a respiratory issue combined with abnormally high temps. I did have a close call with 2 of them when it was over 100* out. They were not doing well at all, so I put them in a bucket of cold water to bring their body temps down. The next day they were fine and I couldn't even tell which ones were sick. Since then, they've all been great!

The bird above is the biggest one. I call him Chickenzilla. He's large and in charge.

My biggest problem with the broilers now is they see me as the "food lady" and they mob me whenever I walk out into the yard! I can hardly walk to feed them because they swarm around me. They also like to peck at my ankles. That hurts!

And they try to follow me when I walk away!
Oh yeah, and the turkeys are getting big too!! They're starting to strut more now, and the other day I had to break up a fight. They grab each other's wattles and hang on tight! Ouch. And the funniest thing....yesterday when I was screwing the lumber together for the bachelor pen shelter, the screws were making a screaching noise in the wood, and a few of the turkeys gobbled!

And check out that guinea (on the right)! She's one of the babies I bought at the Auction in April. I wound up getting a male and female. That's lucky!


Becky said...

Whoa! Look at Chickenzilla! He's huge! I'm going to have to make LOTS of room in the freezer! :) Yay! I can't thank you enough for raising such healthy food for us :) And I promise to be brave when we process them ;)

Angela said...

I call them yard birds too. LOL

Dad said...

Katie I LOVE seeing all the birds, rather yard birds, roaming all around the place and chasing you. And the turkeys are looking like they're starting to be dinner size. You're doing a wonderful job sweetie. Love you.

Jennifer said...

Cool, Their all looking good :)

Deb said...

How fun to be in the middle of poultry mania! I k now what you mean about pecking on little brown hen - the one I helped hatch out, adores me. I am sure it's because of the snacks I bring them and she'll peck my toes if I don't drop the snacks quickly enough! Your broilers look wonderful and look at the size of those chicken boobies! I love how that one turkey think's it's a broiler and how the guinea thinks it's a turkey!!! What a great farm you have there Katie! Don't you love your life??? Love you, Momma

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