Spring always makes me think of raising broiler chickens on the farm. Each year we would get 150 or so broiler chicks to raise for meat for the family table. Growing up as the oldest of 5 kids, we had a pretty big dinner table! Looking back, this was a huge undertaking for our family!
Raising broilers at home may be something that you have thought about. It is a wonderful way to show your family where food comes from without the larger investment of bigger livestock. A small barn of 10-12 broilers can be a great learning curve for youth from purchasing the birds, getting them situated in the shed to feeding and caring for them. The final step, sending them to the processor, can be a hard lesson for those with a softer heart but learning the food chain is a good lesson for everyone.
How to raise broilers:
- You can order chicks and have them mailed to you! Imagine the morning at the post office with a box of chicks showing up! Since the post office is essentially handling a live product, you will have to coordinate pickup shortly after they arrive onsite. Some hatcheries also have local pickup if you live nearby. Contact your local hatchery for more details here.
- Count on up to 10 square feet per bird. When you get the chicks, they will be very small and not require the full 10 square feet. You may want to partition off a smaller area in your shed for the young birds. As they grow, they will need room to range out so you can move the barrier out. Be sure to keep litter clean to support foot health.
- New chicks will come to you within a day or so of being hatched. Newborn chicks need a quick start vitamin pack added to their water. This will help your chicks start out strong. Feed for chicks is set up as starter feed (22-24% protein) and grower feed (20% protein). Broiler chicks grow REALLY quickly, usually making processing weight at 6-8 weeks of age, depending on how big you want them to get.
- In my family, backyard processing was key to completing this project. Not everyone is equipped for this project so there are commercial processors that will help.
- After picking up the processed broilers, storage is generally the freezer unless you are into canning. Enjoying a piece of BBQ Chicken from the grill, knowing where it came from and how it was raised can be a very satisfying experience.
Contact your local CVA Feed location for all of your Poultry Feed needs.