What are the important tips when raising chickens for the freezer? Raising chickens is a fulfilling business if you dedicate your time and effort in it. Chicken meat is rich in proteins and other essential nutrients of great importance in our bodies. Read on to find out more about the best tips you can use when raising chickens for the freezer.
When you decide to keep chickens for their meat you should know how to go about it. If you are a beginner, you need tips that will help achieve your goals whether long term or short term. Tips such as acquiring the best breeds, proving them with shelter and food, watching them grow and eventually butchering them for their meat will guide you accordingly.
It takes time and money to raise meat chickens to maturity. Having said that, these chickens need a lot of your attention as they grow. For instance, it takes between 8 and 12 weeks to have a fully grown chicken.
Compared to layers (which take at least 6 months to mature), meat birds take a shorter time. By the time your meat chickens are 12 weeks, they are already old enough for consumption.
At this age, they have fresh-tasting meat that is tender and delicious. This should tell you that meat chickens are the best option if you want to provide your family with proteins. Below are tips to apply when raising chickens for the freezer.
Purchase Healthy, Baby Broiler Chicks
- The first step to a successful flock of meat chickens is the breed you choose. There are numerous chicken breeds known for their quality meat. These breeds range from Giant Jerseys to Orpingtons and Rhode Island Red to Cornish Rocks and many more.
- Each one of these breeds is unique in many ways. Some are early maturing breeds while others are late maturing birds. Despite all these differences, they all serve one important function which is producing high-quality meat. If you’re getting started, it’s prudent that you purchase healthy broiler chicks that you will raise according to your standards.
- Most of the poultry farmers buy meat chickens that mature as early as 8 weeks. Since most of these breeds are cross-breeds, they mature early if conditions are right for them. This way, poultry farmers are able to meet the growing demand for chickens’ meat.
- However, some prefer their birds to be more natural. This means their chickens are raised organically to avoid cases of consuming chickens raised on commercial feeds.
- If you are one of those chicken keepers who prefer everything natural, then you should be patient with your birds. This is because such birds take longer to grow before they attain the right age for consumption. Therefore, get yourself healthy broiler chicks if you want to stock your freezer with good quality chicken meat.
Provide Your Chickens with a Good Shelter and Temperature
- Chickens, especially baby chicks are weak and vulnerable to predators and harsh weather conditions. For them to survive you need to provide adequate protection as they grow.
- Most chickens are not allowed to free-range until they are about four months old. Based on the minimum age for some meat chickens to mature, such birds will need protection throughout. The best solution here is to give them a good shelter in the form of a chicken tractor or coop.
- A chicken tractor will allow you to move your young birds from one location to another every day. This rotation will expose your chickens to clean areas with new grass and bugs to eat. You can choose your ideal chicken tractor from numerous designs available today. Take your time and look around to find great plans for this project.
- When it comes to comfortability, you must consider the temperature around your chickens. But regulating the temperature for your birds will depend on the location of their shelter.
- When young, most chickens cannot effectively regulate their body temperature. As such, you will have to take the initiative to help them stay comfortable.
- In the first week of raising them, baby broiler chicks require 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Thereafter, they need about 90 degrees Fahrenheit which should be lowered gradually as they mature.
- Some poultry farmers prefer raising their little chickens in a fall where temperature and other conditions are perfect. In this case, September is an ideal month to start raising meat chickens. This is the month when temperatures naturally cool down thus providing your birds with the best environment to thrive.
- It does not mean that you can not raise your birds in colder months. You can use special heat lamps to help maintain the temperature inside their coops. Besides, you need to be on the lookout for any problems caused by dropping temperatures around your flock.
- If you find your chicks huddling in a corner, just know that the temperature around them is lower than what they need. When it’s warm you will see them walking around happily. With the best shelter available, your meat chickens will become healthy and mature early so you may start enjoying their delicious meat.
Provide Enough Food and Water
Food and water are the two most important basic needs for your chickens. These two factors will determine their growth and development including their meat output. With proper food, you should expect your meat chickens to mature early and have good quality meat.
- When feeding your broilers, you should be selective about the type of food you give them. Avoid feeding your meat chickens GMO, lots of corn and soy if you are looking forward to natural meat.
- This type of chicken feed is not suitable for your birds if you keeping them for meat. Instead, let them free range in your backyard and feed on different types of insects and bugs. This will improve the quality of their meat by making it delicious and tasty.
- One broiler consumes an average of 15 pounds of food in its entire life ( which can be 12 weeks or more). Hopefully, this information will help you make the right estimation of how much chicken feed you will need.
- Feeding a baby broiler is the first thing you need to have at the back of your mind. Healthy broilers will determine the success of your project when they mature.
- Baby meat chicks require a well-balanced diet that contains essential nutrients such as proteins and others. When it comes to giving them proteins, you need to acquire starter feed. This type of chicken feed contains about 22 percent protein which makes your little broilers grow faster.
- As they come of age, make sure that you reduce the amount of protein from 22 to 20 and eventually 18 percent. Don’t forget to include other foods rich in nutrients such as carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
- A balanced diet for your meat chickens will contribute so much to the quality of their meat. Additionally, you must provide your flock with clean fresh water to quench their thirst and cool their bodies. Once you fulfill all these basic needs you should look forward to plenty of meat from your mature chickens.
Processing Meat Chickens on Your Farm
This seems to be the most awaited part of raising chickens for meat. In fact, this is the moment of truth. Or the time you have been eagerly waiting for since you started keeping meat chickens. This is because you will have the liberty to scout around and randomly pick a mature chicken to process.
- When your birds are already grown, this represents a good opportunity to process them for the freezer. But this depends on various factors such as the age and weight of your chickens.
- Typically, a mature meat bird should weigh between 5 and 7 pounds. Again this will depend solely on whether you are raising roosters or broilers.
- Processing your chickens for the freezer can take different forms as long as you are ready to take up this task. In other words, you can do the processing on your farm or take them to the poultry processor.
- If you choose the last option, you will have to transport your chickens to the site and have them slaughtered and processed. On the other hand, you may have your meat chickens slaughtered at approved facilities if you want to sell their meat at a store. Otherwise, you may stock your freezer with the processed chicken meat for your family to enjoy.
Is it right to let your meat chickens live a few months longer than expected? It is not wise to let your meat birds live longer for some reasons One of the reasons is that these birds can overgrow and become heavy-breasted. If this happens, they are more likely to die of heart complications.
Do meat chickens need roosts in their coops? These birds don’t need structures such as roosts because they don’t enjoy perching or roosting. Besides, they have a limited time ( a few weeks before they are slaughtered) to make good use of such facilities.
Meat chickens are a good source of fresh meat for your family. You can sell the surplus to generate some revenue or place in a freezer for future consumption. Take full advantage of the tips highlighted above to raise your meat birds for the freezer.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!