Gardening Proverb:

"To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves." -- Mohandas K. Gandhi

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Chick to Traeger in 8 Weeks **WEEK 8** (The final days!)

April 18-22 (week 8)

This is the final week for the chickens - they have a slaughter date on the 22nd, just 2 days short of 8 weeks.
I ended up with 12 pullets and 16 cockerels.

On the 20th we took our last field trip outside for a few hours; I had to use the garden cart to haul them as they were now too big to fit in the blue tub! It was a lovely day and was enjoyed by all.
4/21: getting ready to go to "freezer camp"
I took their food away at 5pm (4/21) but they still had water. Best to do this 18-24 hrs prior to slaughter, this allows most of the food to pass thru the birds and reducing the risk of contamination at slaughter.

A primitive yet effective way to get a ballpark weight on some of my birds!
So now I was really curious as to how heavy some of these birds were! They had eaten nearly 450lbs of food - averaging 17.5lbs per bird!!  I have a small kitchen scale but couldn't keep the birds in the basket to weigh them, so I rigged this system with an old fish scale, a nylon strap and one of my small garden tubs. I weighed 6 birds, most of them coming in around 5-6 lbs - not bad!!

The butcher was right... I am taking 26 birds to him!!  : )

Sunday evening (4/21), I went over and picked up some poultry crates from Harrington Poultry Processing.
First thing Monday morning (4/22), I loaded the chickens in the crates, strapped them down in the truck, and dropped them off at Harrington Poultry Processing at 8am.

'Ol Betsy loaded with chickens! Off to Freezer Camp!

At 1pm I got a call - the birds were ready for pick up! When I got there, they had 5 boxes of chickens - dressed, bagged, chilled and ready for the freezer. Scott (butcher) couldn't believe this was the first time I'd raised birds and whatever I was doing, it was right! "Some of these are as big as turkeys!" he exclaimed.

5 boxes of bird!

When I got them home, I weighed them - yes, I did VERY well!  : )
5+ lbs: 8 birds
6+ lbs: 14 birds
7+ lbs: 4 birds (1 of these maxed out my scale at 7.5lbs, I think it was at least 8lbs!)

the 6 biggest birds - one in front is over 7.5lbs!

26 birds = 161.45 dressed weight
+ 5.41lbs of gibblets (heart, liver, gizzard)

We roasted 2 on the Traeger that night, rubbed with olive oil and fresh sage and rosemary, fresh ground pepper and sea salt... AMAZING!!!

It is definitely easier and much cheaper to go buy chicken at the store, but you don't know how it was raised and the horror stories you hear really make you think twice about visiting the meat department...
These birds were humanely raised with love and care, and as you can see I was rewarded for it! They have great texture and flavour and it only took 8 weeks!

Can't wait to do it again next Spring!
Count: 26 in the freezer... and all is well.


Here is the cost breakdown in case you're thinking about raising your own birds for meat.
(Keep in mind that this was done in late winter/early spring in Estacada, Oregon - if you have the room (and are doing this later in the year when the weather is nicer), raising your birds outside where they can forage will cut down on your feed costs. And I couponed like hell for the feed! It's a good idea to hit as many of the "chick workshops" as you can - the hosting feed store will usually be running specials on feed and supplies so you can stock up!
I attended "chick workshops" at Coastal (Gresham & Oregon City), Wilco (Oregon City & Canby), and Burns Feed Store (Gresham). If a feed rep (like Purina or Nutrena) is on site, they will also usually have mfg coupons to use in conjunction with a sale. Bonus!!

As you may recall, my neighbor split the cost with me for 6 of the birds - her cost was $12 per bird.
My actual cost was much higher as I had expenses for feeders, founts, etc as noted in purple - I will be able to reuse these items in the future. My cost ended up being $18.33 per bird for my 20 birds (not including time & labor). I think it's worth every penny!!!

1 comment:

  1. THIS IS EXCELLENT!!! Everything I needed to know to want to do this too!! Thank you for taking the time to write it all down!


My list of Yarden Events that you need to check out!

February: Yard, Garden & Patio Show (Convention Center, Portland)

March: Plant Nerd Night (check out Mike Darcy's calendar for date/location)

April: Gardenpalooza (Fir Point Farms, Aurora); Annual Chicken Chat & Coop Tour (The Wade Creek House, Estacada)

May: Spring Garden Fair (Clackamas County Fairgrounds, Canby); Annual Garden Event @ The Wade Creek House (Estacada)

July: Cracked Pots @ Edgefield (Troutdale)

August: OAN Farwest Show (Convention Center, Portland)

September: Gathering of Gardeners (Village Green, Cottage Grove, OR)

October: Apple Tasting @ Portland Nursery (50th/Stark, Portland)