(*Disclaimer: the photo above are my hens, not broilers. I will admit I didn't get many photos of them*)
It's something not everyone has a stomach for right away, but it's definitely something you can learn. And it's something that is worth doing.
I realize not everyone has the means to do this, but I truly believe everyone should learn the skills to raise their own food. There's nothing like being able to provide your family with your own food. Vegetables grown in your own garden (which can look different depending on where you live: container gardening is super attainable in the city!), or raising your own meat, it's just one of the most rewarding things to know you can depend on yourself to raise your own food!
Now, I am by no means an expert. I did grow up butchering chickens with my parents. But I didn't have the responsibility of feeding/watering them every day. We bought the Cornish cross breed, which are known for giving lots of meat. Let me tell you, they NEVER stop eating. My dad built a chicken tractor for us, luckily we had all of the supplies for it so we didn't have to purchase anything to build it. We literally had saved boards from our old house's deck, and my husband is super thrifty, which works so well for building things like this (he probably will roll his eyes at me and be embarrassed for me writing this, but it's a good thing hon!). And we had purchased hardware cloth (which is actually wire) for our hens' coop. For chickens, ALWAYS use hardware cloth! Chicken wire does not cut it around critters trying to get to your chickens!
We started with a grower blend feed (once they hit about 5 weeks we switched to a custom broiler blend of feed). We had them in a brooder under our sun room, but things had started to go awry. Their feet did not keep dry, and they started developing bumble foot. I had never heard of bumble foot until we got our laying hens, and I was researching all the things you need to know about chickens. Bumble foot is cause by a staph infection, and if let go, can kill your chickens. It was just in the beginning stages, so we moved them from the brooder to the chicken tractor with a heat lamp (luckily it was 90 during the day, so we only need the heat lamp at night: chicks need heat of about 90℉ when that little). We also covered the chicken tractor with waterproof tarps. That kept the heat in during the night, for their tiny little bodies that need heat. So we moved them into the tractor, which was good for their feet because the ground was dry, and we started adding a drop of Oregano essential oil into their water (1 drop per gallon), as well as some electrolytes. The bumble foot cleared right up.
We moved the tractor once a day, depending on how many you have, you may need to move them twice a day. We had around 45 Cornish Cross birds, and it was borderline needing twice a day. It was fun to watch every time my husband moved the tractor, they knew what was happening as soon as he approached. They always ran to the front, knowing that they were going to get fresh grass to forage. Did I mention they never stop eating?!?.... 😩🤣
Cornish Cross take about 7-10 weeks to finish. We processed ours at seven weeks, I think next time we would wait at least one more week, but with how things worked out, it just worked best for us to process at seven.
This photo was taken the morning we butchered them. This is where you have options. You could take them to the Amish, and pay them to process them for you. Or anyone else, such as a butcher shop, if you choose. We chose to process them ourselves. Processing chickens is not as scary as so many people think. It truly isn't! In this post, I am not going to go through how to process them. I'm much more of a demonstrator, than I am a teller, in that category. If you're local, come join us next year if you want to learn! It is a skill worth knowing how to do and passing along to your kids.
Raising broilers really is not hard to do, and I encourage you to consider raising your own, if at all possible!