Processing Day

Today is the day! Well, the chickens made it to their last day. We had a scare when a local dog, a Pomeranian, tore a hole in the coop and let a few of the birds escape. The funny thing is the roosters in the escape gang were standing up to the little dog so no damage was done. After mending the fence,  the birds had only a few days left on the pasture.Justice and I processed 25 birds on our own on Saturday. We worked as a team through every step from crating to packaging. Since these were our first birds we wanted to make sure we had all the processing steps down before our friends arrived on Sunday to help. We were bone tired by day’s end, but were completely satisfied with the entire process.In the crate 

 

Since I’m the shorter one of the two it was my job to capture chickens and crate them. Justice was skeptical about these, but was on the bus once he saw how quiet they became once they were placed inside. We’d withheld food in the previous 12 hours, but they were foraging up to the last moments before they were crated. With eight chickens per crate, we stacked them under a tree.Cones waiting This is a before shot of the cones set up. Note the difference in the grass. You can definately tell where the pen was placed on the pasture. Our friends teased Justice that he was trying to make a political sign of thier land based on the green pattern from the pen. Suffice it to say it would be REALLY difficult to write Obama OR McCain. . . but what a great prank.  Justice took this job over. I had to take the birds from the crate and place them headfirst in the cone. This is a two person job as you need to load the chicken in head first, position the bird’s head and neck in the lower opening, then hold the bird still as the vein is opened.  It was quick.  Continue reading

Cornish Cross

Our first batch of Cornish Cross came in a couple of days ago.  We used the same hatchery that gave us the Red Broilers after a weak performance from another hatchery.  The Red Broilers are going to take 12 weeks….way too long at today’s feed costs.  The Cornish Cross is ‘the’ meat birds in the industry, in fact, it is unlikely you have ever tasted another breed over the last 20 years.  The chicks came in smaller but all seemingly healthy.  Unfortunately, we have lost 4 of 87 so far.  One was never able to open it’s eyes and never made it’s way to feed.  We could finger water the little guy for a while, but the feed was too much.  We have lost 3 others from unknown causes (meaning we didn’t really notice anything going wrong).  These were daytime deaths and with the warm weather we doubt suffocation.  

 

Overall, the chicks are very mellow compared to the Red Broilers.  When the cover comes up for a quick peek they do not panic, in fact, they seem more curious than terrified.  We will see what they act like in a couple of days.  Reading up on these guys this may be the most active they will get.  It is all about the belly from here on out for these guys.  We are hoping to process this batch in 8 weeks- luckily we have more orders than birds right now so we should be able to get good feedback on the differences between the two breeds. 

Cornish Cross Broilers