Episode 19: Raising Chickens

By JM Davis



7 points with Myths, Facts, and Reality.  

Full Transcript of show

Hello I’m Janet Davis and welcome to Food Plus Freedom Podcast. Today is February 6, 2024. Episode 19: Raising Meat Chickens 7 points with Myths, Facts, and Reality.

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Be sure to wait until the end for the quick tip of the day.

Now on with the show.

Episode 19: Raising Meat Chickens 7 points with Myths, Facts, and The Reality of Raising Meat Chickens. If you’re raising your own meat or want to, chickens are an inexpensive and easy way to get started compared to other livestock. With the exception of rabbits. But rabbits aren’t considered livestock under the USDA and a completely different conversation we will have at a different time.

We’ve personally raised chickens for over 18 years. In that time we’ve made plenty of mistakes, we’ve had great rewards and learned a lot.And we continue to learn a lot as we continue to raise them each year and each season. As well as talking to others who are doing the same.

In fact, in 2024 we are doing a chicken project that we’ve been wanting to do for years. You can find updates and what we are doing on our website foodplusfreedom.com/projects and under categories.

Because  we’ve decided we want to take our chickens to another level.Plus as we get older and we all do, it’s better than the alternative, We’re trying to find ways to raise our meat and have a little more freedom and do the other things we want to do.

Something to think about. Raise your meat chickens with organic feed and pasture. Most chicken feed is made with corn and soy which is heavily sprayed and genetically modified. Sure you can make you’re own feed too, but you want that to be organic as well. but why raise meat like big ag? Why put in all the hard work and money just to eat crap you can buy from the store. So think about it, when you are raising your meat do it organically.

Here are 7 points I want to clear up about raising meat chickens

  1. Choosing your meat chicken by size from a catalog or the internet works This is a Myth: The weight and time to raise your birds to the weight you see in the catalog or website usually do not align Facts: You don’t know exactly what the birds in the catalog are being fed, how they are housed, and the weather they are living in. Reality: The weight listed is normally, unless they say differently, is alive weight not meat you put into your freezer. The meat chickens I’ve raised usually are aligned with the live weight, not butchered weight. You will take longer than you think you need to raise the meat birds. You will feed them more than you think you are to get them to weight and you will not realize the time it’s actually taking for the size bird you want. Keeping really good records help with having reality in front of you, something that isn’t always easy to do.

And remember what you’re raising at home isn’t the same as what you get in the stores. It’s healthier. And it’s a different breed of chicken.

  1. Raising Cornish Crosses. Are the best birds to raise. Some people think so. I think this is a myth. I’m going to tell you why and tell you my opinon. We call these  Franken chickens These are those birds that grow in 6 to 8 weeks, possibly 10 for a pretty large dead weight. Myth and this is my opinion, but think about it. People think these are the best chickens to raise because of how fast they grow.

Fact: They do not do well as free ranged chickens. They sit and eat and eat, making your 8 weeks cost as much as as a naturally raised bird in 16 to 24 weeks. They have issues with heart attacks, broken legs, and death before you have time to harvest them. That’s alot of wasted time, food, and energy for you. And fact they can never live long enough to reproduce.

Reality: Think about this with this meat chicken breed. What has man done to this bird. And yes, I’ve been told it hasn’t been genetically engineered, but I am skeptical. Why because the bird is not natural. And if it hasn’t been bio engineered, what has happened to the chicken. The chicken has to be force fed or just leave food for them all the time and not too far away or they won’t make it to the food. Or they can tip over, yes we literally had one tip over and we found it laying there because it got run over by some small chicks. Yes it was dead. It was disgusting. This meat chicken makes you more reliant on a system you’re trying to get away from. You ca’t keep a male and female to reproduce because they die from heart attacks, broken legs and other ailments before they reach maturity. They aren’t eating nature feed, nor are they truly eating on pasture. I don’t think one of these birds has the energy to move fast enough to catch any food that was coming by. If you love how fast they grow and don’t care about how unnatural they are. This might be a bird for you. Okay, but in my opinion when you’re raising meat just like big biz and big ag you’re defeating the purpose of raising your own meat. You’re defeating the purpose of trying to become food independent. In my opinon, it’s cheaper and less consuming to buy one of these from the store than raise your own.

  1. Great chicken meat is determined by age of the chicken. This is a partial Myth: The age of the chicken and taste is a partial myth. Older chickens can have more stringy meat. However, the biggest determination of meat taste, tenderness, and texture comes from how the animal is fed, housed, and butchered. The reality is we’ve had tender older chickens and tender you chickens. We’ve also had younger chickens meat be stringy as well.
  2. Butcher and eat it the same day. Myth: Well you can do it, but the chicken meat isn’t going to be as good as if you let it sit. Facts: you are better off allowing the chicken to rest in ice water so the adrenaline from the bird goes out of the meat. This 24 hour setting allows the meat to set, and the chicken to be more pliable for storing. Meaning, your chicken isn’t stiff and the rigor mortis is gone.

In reality, you want to plan your butchering so you have time and space for letting the meat cool down and set. Even if you don’t do the butchering, you want to give the chickens the “cool down time” to have the best meat possible. SOme people do this in a cooler, some people do it in the refrigerator. We let ours sit in large tubs of ice water so the chickens are under water and sit overnight in the bathroom.

  1. It’s just a saying “You’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off” , This is definitely not a saying but a reality. If you chop the head off of a chicken and drop it on its feet, it will run around until all the unconscious movement is done. In reality, it’s best to use cones for harvesting and cutting the jugular, wind pipe etc., in one quick swipe. By having the chicken upside down in the cone, the blood will drain more quickly. There will not be the yuck of seeing a headless chicken run around, and it is calmer for everyone.

Butchering is never completely a humane thing, if you want to think about it. But you want it to be as calm and humane as possible.

  1. Meat chickens can’t be raised on pasture. This is a huge myth. The best tasting, in my opinon, chicken are pasture raised chickens Why?. Facts you can raise them in chicken tractors, with fencing, or in enclosures on pasture to keep the chickens safe. They will still eat bugs which aid in their delicious meat and cut back on feed. Which helps with the money for raising your chickens. In reality, you can raise meat chickens just as you do layer chickens. The difference is the outcome of what you get from the animal.
  2. You can only raise roosters for meat. Myth hens and rooster can both be raised for meat. Facts: Rooster will normally grow faster and larger than hens. In reality, you can grow both a hen or a rooster for meat. You might get some eggs from the hen if they are older than 20 weeks old, but you can still butcher them. The only exception is with the exception is the Franken chickens I spoke of earlier because they don’t mature enough to develop an egg.

Before you order or incubate your meat chickens make sure you have a plan for raising, feeding, butchering and storing your meat. They will grow faster than you think and the time will come quickly for you to harvest or take them to someone else to butcher.

Having fresh chicken meat that you’ve raised in an organic manner and I stress an organic manner, well it just can’t be beat. Plus, it adds to your food freedom.

Remember, homesteading is a peace of mind, not a piece of land, and anyone can do it.

Thank you for listening this is Janet Davis from Food Plus Freedom. 
Hang tight for the tip of the day.

Tip of the show. 
When you’re catching chickens for harvesting or you’re taken to someone else to butcher you want to keep the chickens as calm as possible. The calmer the chicken is during transportation, waiting, and butchering the more tender your meat will be.

If we are harvesting chickens we get them into pen near the butchering area the night before. Then calmly either catch or use a net to catch each chicken quickly. Then we hold them tight, keeping them from fluttering, before using our cones. Keeping the chicken calm cuts down on stress and adrenaline for both you and the chicken. And one last thing, make sure you have the right mind set of gratitude for the chicken and being able to raise it as such.

Grow Food – Eat Local – Gain Freedom
Until next time.

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