Having backyard chickens is a lot different than raising meat chickens. For starters you bring home the girls all cute and fluffy excited they are going to provide pretty fresh eggs.
Since it takes awhile for your girls to start laying eggs you do your best to care and nurture them. Overall this is probably your first pet you’ve had that will provide you with FOOD!
I know this was the case for us. I was constantly out tending to my first six chickens. I wasn’t quite sure when they were going to lay an egg but I was so excited. After having 100’s of chickens now I know what to look for when it comes to a chicken laying an egg.
If you are raising meat chickens the intention is to give you even more than that little brown egg.
They are going to feed you an entire meal!
There are a few things you need to have an honest look at before you think meat birds may be right for you.
I know many of us love the idea of raising our own meat in our backyards, but the truth is it doesn’t fit in with our lifestyle.
Let’s get into the reasons you may want to skip out and not raise meat chickens.
Here’s the thing. These birds are lazy. If you have them in a little chicken tractor that isn’t very secure something will go after them. They really wont have much of a chance because they are either tiny little chicks or to the point where they plop down constantly.
It normally takes 6-12 weeks for a meat chicken to reach harvest weight, depending upon the breed. You can always make a temporary space.
The good thing is they don’t need to be pasture raised. You can free range these birds and they don’t need much. Their free ranging skills are lacking.
I often throw in fruits and veggies and find many still sitting there hours later with too many flies on it. So out it goes to the pigs.
I do find meat chickens like to eat grass, grains, and strawberries.
You do not want so many birds packed into a small space. Sanitary reasons with these meat chickens means they don’t move much. We like to do 15 birds at a time. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology states that space requirements for broilers is “one-half square foot per bird. “
Yes. The first time your raise meat birds it’s a little overwhelming. Especially if you have layers. They are quite different. They grow so fast, are so lazy and the dirt smeared on the bottom feathers just makes you scrunch up your nose and think, “Ew!”
But then you can quickly let your mind envision these birds stacked up in a factory farm. And it helps the nausea pass.
Once you taste your own grown meat chickens you can still feel squeamish but get over it faster. The taste drives the raising of these birds. The meat does taste different. If you hate overcooking chicken breasts, this won’t happen when your raise your own. The breast meat is always tender. No wonder people who love to cook usually prefer dark meat, but when you raise your own it’s like the whole thing is a dark meat consistency.
No the breast isn’t slimy like you may be thinking. It’s the perfect balance of a dark thigh and a store bought breast.
It’s almost like eating your own chicken eggs. You forget how they actually taste different then store bought eggs. Not that store bought eggs are bad, but your backyard chicken eggs have a rich flavor all of it’s own.
To help with the smell of these birds I used the Sweet PDZ this time and it made a huge difference. I can handle stench but these guys get nasty. The plus side is you only have to clean out the coop once or twice.
If you are reading this and thinking I can handle that, whoo hoo. Head on over to our how to gut and butcher your own birds and take it a step farther. It’s really not as bad as you think. And if you can get someone else to do the killing part- then your golden.
We have a video how we do it below.
If you are not planning on butchering your meat chickens you will need to figure in the cost of having someone else do it. For your own personal satisfaction of the quality of how the chicken was raised the price may not matter.
If you are trying to cut costs raising them yourself and paying to have them butchered may not be the most cost effective choice. Always do your research and price compare on everything.
It takes a GOOD amount of food to get these birds fed. And they are always hungry. I have found it’s better to only feed them once in the morning and at night. Or they tend to sit at the feeder ALL day and that drives me crazy.
Again these chickens don’t have much interest in much from my garden, forcing me to continue to feed them higher protein food. If you don’t have it in the budget to buy more food, and the higher protein food that comes with a higher price tag, you may want to skip out. There are ways to feed extra protein to your chickens around your homestead without breaking the bank.
Let me know what you like or dislike about raising meat chickens in the comment form below.
If after reading this you are ready to take these meat chickens on, congrats! Let us know how it goes 🙂
Sunday 28th of June 2020
Aloha Lisa, I am still in the investigative mode but will be getting chickens soon, I was thinking if I get dual breeds like Breese, Welsommer,, Orpingtons and Bielefelder that when they stop laying they could be used for meat. Is this wrong? Do I need to get meat birds in order to have meat? Mahalo, Robin
Sunday 28th of June 2020
Hi Robin! This isn't wrong. The thing we have found with this is the meat birds just have more meat. It can be done with dual purpose birds but depending on how long they live and when you cull them, they meat has always seemed to less for us. We like to use older hens for ground chicken. For us the actual meat birds like Cornish cross give you more meat per bird than any of the dual purpose and laying hens. Older hens meat can tend to be a little tougher as well. You could use the meat for stews. I think it's a great place to start if raising meat birds isn't something you want to tackle right away.
Sunday 19th of January 2020
Great post! It doesn't bother me to butcher chickens but the smell is exactly why I won't raise meat birds! lol
Sunday 19th of January 2020
Hi Lisa! I love your blog. Thank you so much for stopping over :)