Step by step we have grown our homestead. Raising meat chickens is something we have been doing for several years now. We implement the pastured poultry method using chicken tractors to rotate pasture.
Raising Meat Birds on The Homestead
Our meat chicken husbandry practices include organic, non-gmo, soy-free feed as well as rotating on pasture in a chicken tractor. All of this ensures that our family is getting the best quality, most nutrient dense, meat possible.
We started ordering chickens with friends and we all purchased Cornish Cross birds together. This is a good breed for us to start with since they are ready to butcher in just eight weeks or so.
Many people prefer to raise Freedom Rangers since they are a heritage breed. We will be raising 100 of them this year. I’m excited to see how they compare to the Cornish Cross.
Our little chicks arrive when they are just a couple of days old. We always tell the kids not to get too attached to these meat chickens since their destination was the freezer.
Derek built a large brooder box for them that we set up under a shelter outside. If it is too cold outside when we first get them, we will keep them in totes in the house for a week or two before moving to the outside brooder. We set their brooder up with water, feed, and a heat lamp.
After 2-3 weeks pass and the weather permits, the chicks are big enough to go outside. We set up the chicken tractor in our pasture. The tractor is moved once a day for the first couple of weeks.
We start moving the chicken tractor twice a day to give the meat birds some fresh grass and bugs. Something that we have started to use and has benefited us in raising meat birds is to put up an electric netting fence around the tractor so that the chickens can forage a larger area.
We let the meat birds out of the tractor in the mornings so they can run free, well, not free, just within their parameters. Every evening, we lock them in the chicken tractor to keep them safe.
This routine of moving the tractor and pen continues from the time we move them out until they are ready to be butchered. Once they have reached their butcher size, we process our own chickens at home.
Raising meat birds is a great way fo us to supply our own family with healthy food as well as make some income by selling some of them after we butcher.
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Thank you so much for this! We just got our first batch of chicks – some for eggs and some for meat. Your posts are extremely helpful!
That’s so exciting! I’m glad you found it helpful. 🙂
This definitely makes me want to try raising meat birds again. The last time I gave it a go, a predator found its way into the area I kept the chicks in and killed all of them. I need to build a newer and safer area for them before I try it again. But its going to happen! I like how you advised your kids not to get too attached to the chicks. 🙂 I had to do the same thing with my kiddos with our turkeys…which was hard to do since turkeys are just so social! lol! Thanks again for the great article.