Friday, June 8, 2012

The Endurance Builder


I have decided that meat chickens (AKA, "broilers") are the best thing to raise if you wish to strengthen your body and increase your endurance.

Example: When those chicks first arrive, you can fit 100 of them in something the size of a shoe box and it will only weigh a pound or two. You fill their little 1 gallon poultry font once a day, or maybe even every-other-day, and their cute little feeder gets filled as needed (maybe once a day). Oh yeah, this is the life. Those birds are ridiculously easy to care for, and we haven't even broken a sweat. Each week rolls past and soon you find yourself filling that 1 gallon font twice a day, along with the feeder. We can do this... It's still a small amount, we're just doing it twice now!

Then at 3-4 weeks, the little broilers get moved to pasture. You place their grand chicken tractor near the gate and effortlessly put those plump little chickies in their new mansion. You now have to move the tractor every day, but that's no trouble. Those adorable birds follow you right along, before you go to fill their waterer and feeder; the water faucet is only 15 feet from the gate, how nice! This is still pretty good! Hey, I just might like this chicken raising business!

After fourteen days, the chicken tractor has moved a considerable ways away from the gate and the chickens now need 3 or 4 waterers, and they have to be filled 3 times a day. The gate suddenly seems really far away... You are still moving their tractor every day but it's funny how they seem to get so sluggish in only a couple short weeks. You move the tractor a few inches and hear the squawk of a broiler with its leg caught beneath the tractor's frame due to you moving said tractor too quickly. You need to run around to the other end where the wailing chicken is and release it. Now, run back to where you started and pull the tractor yet another few inches. You hear another squawk. Run and rescue chicken, run back and move tractor a few more inches. Squawk! Run. Squawk! Run. Of course, if you have stocked your tractor a little more densely than usual, then you may have to move that tractor twice a day so that the grass is not harmed. So now you're filling waterers 3 times a day, moving the tractor twice a day, you've moved up to a large feeder, so that's still one a day, and the gate seems as though miles away.

Seven weeks of age seems to be the big one... You're going through almost 50 lbs. of feed a day with just over 100 chickens, they need those waterers filled four times a day, the tractor has to be moved twice a day, and you can't even count how many times you have to run around and free a chicken while moving that tractor. And if you have a tractor like mine that is too light for our strong winds, then you will have to tie a 5 gallon bucket of water to each side of the tractor. So that too needs to be refilled daily as you trudge your way up a hill to where the gate is.

At eight to nine weeks, you hit your true test of endurance. What started out as a bunch of fluffy chicks that looked too cute to ever consider eating, have now turned into the biggest, ugliest specimens of the poultry race. They eat anything in sight (including bare skin), and require a lot of filling when it comes to feeders and waterers. That gate is now out of sight, but after so many weeks of walking to it, you find it's not so hard anymore while toting 40 lbs. of water. Now, your final day of Cross Fit: Butchering. Are you up to the dare? This is the ultimate challenge. If you can survive butchering, then you are capable of doing anything. Butchering is long, long work that requires a lot of standing and mess making. 

Whew! You've just done all that work, and now we have to hope that the customers like it??? Hmm, maybe I'll take up office work instead...


Anonymous said...

What kind of broilers did you get? I am going to raise meat birds next year and I'm not sure what kind I'll be getting (not 100, anyway! More like 20). Cornish X seems like the standard, and I guess I don't really care that they're hybrids since I won't be breeding. But I've heard such bad things about their frail immune systems and horrible stupidity (drowning in their founts, etc.) Also, have you done the slaughtering yet? I'm a little nervous about that part.

Alica said...

I'm amazed over and over at just how much chickens eat! I only have 30+ layers...and I think THEY eat a lot! :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laugh! I know exactly what you mean! Especially catching their feet under the tractor when you try to move it! Broilers are a lot of work and then comes butchering day. My husband and I read and watched you Tube videos on how to set up the butchering area, what you need and how to do it. We were so terrible at it that we only managed 8 birds in one day-1 per hour! We learned that it is far better to pay someone to process them for us. Never again! But I did become much more appreciative of the animal that gives it's life for us to eat. I want to give that animal the best life I can-Fresh air, sunshine, good pasture and good care. I love raising chickens!
Heather in PA

Anonymous said...

LOL. I guess lots of us can relate to this one. I try to have a helper to encourage the laggards at the back of the cage along, but sometimes that's not an option. I also have learned NOT to start the pen up by the gate. I start it wherever I need to to ensure I'm going to finish the end of the seventh week by the gate - I actually walk the pasture to figure it out - I find lifting full poultry crates much worse than shifting the pens, so the shortest distance to the truck is good. I use a 5 gallon fount for the pasture pen - I'm away most of the day, and need to be confident they'll have enough till I get back in the evening. I also use a lower stocking density - not more than 70, so that I only have to move the pen once a day.