Come on Spring!
The holidays are over and another Super Bowl is in the books, next stop spring! Last year’s growing season was pretty smooth running for the majority of growers. The biggest issue talked about with broilers is the issue of gorging. This usually occurs when feed is available 24 hours after 5 weeks of age. It seems to effect the bigger cockerels (males) as they push away smaller cockerels and the hens. The simplest remedy was to move to timed feedings i.e. dividing up the daily feed allotment over 3 to 4 feedings. Also expanding feed space available to each bird (factory farm recommendation is one inch per bird). I recommend 2-4 per bird or more by using a rain gutter, and yes I’m cheap! It works and birds eat from both sides. We all just have to remember to be very careful adding off the shelf, off the web additives to water “just because”.
Broiler chicks are just that broilers meaning the genetics support growing them out to the 4 to 5 dressed weight not 8 to 12 pounds. Now I know many growers do and have pretty good luck. The biggest problem is excessive weight on the legs, stressing the internal organs and intolerance to heat that kills more backyard broilers than any other husbandry issue.
When it comes to turkeys, grow to your needs. Too many growers buy poults too early in the year and think they need to wait till thanksgiving to put them in the freezer. Today’s large strain turkeys need between 110 and 125 days to reach a dressed weight of 15 to 22 pounds. We’ve suggested for years that you process off the turkeys when they reach your target usable weight, hold one or two till Thanksgiving for your family’s fresh bird. A weight loss of 25 to 30% during processing of turkeys on average.
The absolute biggest mistake newer growers make is, thinking they are saving a lot of money growing their own food. But as with all of us, once you eat your own, you just can’t go back to commercial grown.
We will also be bringing in 17-18 week old Red Star pullets again this year. We are on the delivery schedule for mid-May, but as you know life happens and could be as late as the first week of June. Again we will be posting updates on Facebook.
We plan to open the slaughterhouse again this year on the first Saturday in June as we have every year. Ben and Adam will continue to run the slaughterhouse as they have done the past few years with Tracy and I in the background, chatting with you all. Slaughter charges for broilers and turkeys are based on dressed weight, fowl, ducks and geese remain the same. We will continue to ice chill, split or quarter and vacuum pack. We will have big bags of ice available for sale again this year. We all look forward to seeing each and every one of you, it’s been a long winter!
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