Welcome to The Gilded Farmer's Blogspot!

Farming and Framing go well together, right? Same letters just a different arrangement. I use eggs from my hens for my egg tempera paintings, the feathers from my turkeys for some fine painted finishes, and the fruits and vegetables as a source of nourishment and inspiration (sometimes using them for still life paintings.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Raising Broilers!

I'm going to add to this blog post every week for the next 8 weeks. I'm raising a batch of broiler chicks to put into the freezer for the winter. These aren't any old breed of backyard or exhibition poultry, they are deluxe hybrids called Cornish-Rock crosses or broiler chickens. They have been cross-bred and selected over the past 60 years to produce the form of chicken we have all become familiar with. My father-in-law was a poultry farmer in the late 40s/early 50s. Back then the chickens looked different than they do today. Their breast shape was narrower, their legs were smaller, and they took 12-16 weeks to grow to maturity. These days the birds are ready to eat (Pret-a-Manger, for you foodies) in 6-8 weeks. I'm going to raise this batch for 8 weeks. Last year's batch went for 6 weeks, but they were on the small side, so I'm going to wait 2 more weeks. In the mean time.....I'm going to document and post their growth here for you to watch this marvel of genetics. Sometimes these birds grow so fast and so big, their legs can't support their weight and they have all they can do to waddle around the yard to eat. I'm raising a flock of turkeys too, and I'm documenting their growth---I'll post that phenomenon after the chickens are wrapped and frozen!

Enjoy! And please e-mail me questions and/or comments!
Less than a week old: 5'' tall and 6 ounces

Week 2: 18 ounces (picture will be inserted here, can't locate it at this moment)
Week 3: 10" tall and 24 ounces
I have lost only 2 chicks to date. The first one within the first week. The last one was just the other day and probably died when they crowded together at night to sleep. I secured their pen so that there are no drafts and put deep bedding in to keep them warm and dry. I'll have to keep an eye on them at nightfall to be sure they aren't piling onto one another. I just put them out to range on one of the gardens that was overtaken by weeds. They will be able to stay clean and take dirt baths and eat weed seeds and grass in addition to the broiler rations I'm giving them. And fertilize the garden for next year! Now that the daily temperatures are getting hotter, they are consuming a lot of water. I have to make sure the 5 gallon waterer is always filled with clean, fresh, water. I could easily lose more chicks if I forget to keep an eye on the water. We enclosed them into the garden with electrified poultry netting, the best invention since the sheetrock screw! It keeps them in and undesirable critters out!

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