Saturday, August 9, 2008

Mutant Chickens

Last spring I decided to try my hand at raising chickens for meat. I did a lot of reading and talked to other chicken owners about it. After a year of wondering if I could do it I finally took the plunge. Not a little plunge either! I ordered 20 day old Cornish X Broilers. They were suppose to be ready for the frying pan in just 6 short weeks! I also ordered 15 assorted bantam chicks and then the hatchery threw in an extra free chick to show their appreciation for my order. The day arrived and we received a call from the post office that they had a package for us. I was surprised at how many little chicks they were able to fit into a shoebox sized package! Boy where they noisy. The first thing we noticed was how much bigger the broilers were compared to the bantams. The next thing we noticed was that they really like to eat. Nothing else seems to matter to them. Just eating. Right away they were bigger, smellier, noisier. As they got bigger they started to have bald bellies which I guess is part of the convenience, easier to pluck. So we have these mutant, stinky, partially bald chicks that are suppose to be dinner. For two weeks we had these little monsters in our garage until we felt they were able to survive outdoors with shelter and a heat lamp. Silly me, I felt bad having them cooped up so I let them out twice a day to scratch around and get fresh grass. I also felt bad keeping them in relative darkness most the day so I gave them light! Well, after six weeks I did not have big fat broilers ready for the BBQ, I had very lean broilers that needed to gain weight! When it was all said and done these mutants weren't ready for butchering until they were about 16 weeks. I swore I would never do mutant chickens again. I would choose an heirloom breed that was a good meat bird. It would take about the same amount of time as my lucky broilers took. Now that I am down to the last few frozen birds I am rethinking the whole broiler thing. Maybe if I did it right this time, no free ranging, no bright lights, just 6 weeks of sitting around eating and getting fat. Or maybe not, the fam has let me know that I do not have their vote on this issue!

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