You may remember a post I did a while back about our first attempt at raising meat birds. In the spring we put in our order for 25 Freedom Ranger Black Broilers. A breed especially good for organic, free range environments. We planned on splitting the flock with a friend of ours. On May 6, during a wonderful cold spell, we received the call that we had a box full of peepers at the Post Office.
The hubs had built a great coop from scrap materials around the property (there really is a reason you keep piles of stuff around a farm). It can be sectioned in half to use one side as a brooder. It worked great and the birds had plenty of space until they grew enough feathers to venture out of doors and needed both sides of the coop as they grew.
These birds are a heritage variety and take the normal twelve weeks to reach maturity. They don’t grow too fast and they didn’t have any difficulties as they packed on the pounds, unlike your average industrial raised chickens, which take a mere seven to eight weeks to reach market weight.
We fed them organic grain, which is pricey and we will be seeking out cheaper organic alternatives in bulk to keep the costs down. All the birds did well and I am happy to say we didn’t lose a single bird. All of them made it to processing day.
The weekend of August 1 would have been the ideal date to process. But our friend was getting married that day, and we have just returned from a week of camping. So, we waited until our friend returned from his honeymoon, and scheduled the processing for yesterday morning.
It took about an hour to set up in the morning. We purchased a table, some cutting boards, scalpels, gloves, buckets, and bags and borrowed a high top steel table, propane burner and pot. The rest of the supplies we had. We set up a kill area, and a plucking area with a propane burner and large pot with a table for plucking, and another area for gutting. Our friend and his aunt, an experienced processor, came by around 10am and we began. All in all it took approximately three hours to get all 25 birds processed and into the fridge. Another hour to clean everything up. We had a great system of one person killing, two pluckers and one gutting.
The birds are chilling in the fridge for a couple days until they head to the freezer. The breed of bird is touted as a great gourmet bird, with a lot of flavor. As soon as we brine and roast one I’ll let you know if the hype is true.
In the end the cost per bird was about $16 each, due mainly to feed costs and extending the processing three weeks (a bag of feed each week). For the future, we will look to improve by reducing those feed costs.
The best part, raising something the right way for your dinner table. The satisfaction of that beats out everything else.