Monday, March 14, 2011

cornish's rock

The chickens here are all doing well and growing at a breakneck pace. I have about a dozen laying hens and twenty freezer birds all mingling in their fancy brooder castle. The Cornish Rocks (my meat birds) are a little over two-weeks old, and weigh a pound each already! They are three times the size of the laying hens! It amazes me that these animals will be dressed and in the freezer in just 6-8 more weeks! Raising your own chicken dinners is pretty economical once you have your brooder and coop ready to go. Since this is the first year I am only buying feed and birds (already had all the supplies and a barn) the cost to raises this clean meat is only 1.99 a chick and two or three fifty pound bags of chick feed. It comes to about 40 dollars in chicks, 30 dollars in feed (max) and three dollars a bird to have them processed and packaged. Which comes to a grand total of $130 for 160 pounds of free-range chicken from a sustainable farm. Making each bird cost about $1.23 a pound. Not too shabby.

Of course, this isn't about saving a few dollars a pound. It's about knowing your food, knowing how it lived, seeing it from peeper to pepper. It's being part of the story. Here's to cheap Sunday roasts I stoked a wood stove for!

23 Comments:

Blogger Sharon said...

Thanks for the stats on costs, I'm adding them to my arsenal for the Battle of the Chickens! Hubby is notoriously frugal. :-) Yeah, I could just go out & buy everything & put it on the credit card, but we're trying to keep the balances low and I don't like going behind his back. Messes w/ the whole trust issue in marriage.

March 14, 2011 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

if he's really frugal, but really into cheaper quakity food, start with egg hens. Five laying hens could live in a Freecycle doghouse on cinderblocks in the backyard and produce three dozen free-range, natural, eggs a week. At whole foods they are 6 bucks a dozen!

March 14, 2011 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Cary said...

Hiya Jenna, Are you having someone else butcher the chickens for you? Is that the $3 each? Thanks for all your great inspiration and sharing.

March 14, 2011 at 11:09 AM  
OpenID barntalkblog said...

Wow. That's pretty good prices. If my mother didn't think they got so ugly, we probably would have some.

-Autumn

March 14, 2011 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

I'll tell you what, if you can get 5 hens to produce 36 eggs over 7 days - you are one hell of a farmer. If I'm doing my math correctly, and there are no guarantees of that, that's more 1 egg per bird per day!

Nothing against your choices, I refuse to raise Cornish X's - to me they just aren't natural. I prefer the slower growing meat birds, gives me time to butcher the birds on my own pace so I don't have to pay someone to do it. Something about a bird that can grow too big for its own skeletal and muscle systems just doesn't sit right.

March 14, 2011 at 11:18 AM  
Blogger Kate B said...

So awesome! And I think they might actually only be about $0.81 a pound...($130 per 160 lbs). That's crazy great!

March 14, 2011 at 11:28 AM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

I have a feeling it is going to be more chicken feed than that(they really get to eating a lot in the last couple weeks)and you'll be lucky if they all weigh 8 lbs and you don't lose any to leg problems or early deaths. I raised some last year and have some this year as well. I am going with the cornish X because you get more meat for the amount of feed(and time) you put into them. I'll butcher mine myself so won't have any cost involved there. Good luck with yours. No matter what the cost, it is still worth it.

March 14, 2011 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger E said...

Assuming you keep them in the brooder for most of their lives (5 weeks out of 8 more or less) I find it hard to call these "free range". That's less than half of their short lives with grass between their toes.

I realize that's how it's done and what they are usually called.

Good to see animals growing at your place after the spate of "falling apart".

March 14, 2011 at 11:51 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

I will process some of my own, and keep some here for the meat chicken workshops in June: but the 3 is all it costs to have a local guy with a good rep process them!

March 14, 2011 at 11:53 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

SOrry, poor math, more like 2 dozen and some change. in high summer my young red layers easily lay 6 or 7 a week.

As for rocks, I have a one-year-old cornish rock in my barn, healthy as can be. The only go into entrophy if never given proper exercise. I think birds in tractors and pens fail like that, I've seen it happen here. But soon as they had the whole farm to explore they grew strong legs and hearts!

March 14, 2011 at 11:56 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

E- in this late winter/early spring they will most likely be in the brooder and barn, but come May they start living outside at 3 and a half weeks till they are butchered which could be anywhere from 4 weeks to 4-months later. I ate 9-month-old cornishes and they lasted better than the young birds without being tough at all.

March 14, 2011 at 11:58 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

Since you're into frugality, have you checked around the web for the many ways that clever people are stretching one chicken into multiple meals? Your chickens could become even more economical!

March 14, 2011 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

Jenna, that's my plan, to start w/ egg chickens first. 3-4 tops, so I can work out all the bugs, make sure the tractor protection is working (I have to deal w/ hawks, raccoons, eagles in the winter and a neighbor who won't keep his dog locked up), things like that. It sounds heartless, but I'd rather lose 3-4 chickens than have the neighbor dog wipe out a huge flock b/c I missed a spot in the fence. Don't worry, when I get my chickens you'll hear me cheering all the way from IL!

March 14, 2011 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger Ellen Rathbone said...

Good to see those numbers. I've had folks tell me that raising chickens isn't cost effective. Now I can see that it just might be! Plus, it's about as local as one can get with one's food. :) I'm eager to give it a go...once I have a house of my own once more.

March 14, 2011 at 4:00 PM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

I think the BIGGEST cost associated with Chickens is the loss to predators. We just had a Racoon push a heavy duty sliding door OPEN to get to the Chickens and eat it right in the coop.

March 14, 2011 at 4:29 PM  
Blogger Allie said...

Gotta love fresh chicken! Hubs and I are getting our first meaties this summer *fingers crossed* and I cannot wait for that first roast chicken dinner. However, he and everyone else simply cannot eat anything that they have pet. They'd rather eat battery farmed chicken than risk knowing who's on the dinner plate!

As far as your chickens being just over $1/pound, that's amazing! Whole chickens were just on sale at my local supermarket for $.99/pound, so you're not far off for something of MUCH better quality.

March 14, 2011 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

Wow, that almost makes me want some meat birds. I have been thinking about it or awhile. But I need to get the pigs to the butcher first. Yours really look good, Jenna. Already feathered out too.

March 14, 2011 at 5:11 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

I have a cornish rock that's close to a year old and he's the size of a turkey and getting around very well. He will eventually be chicken noodle soup.

Be careful about mixing your cornish rocks with your layers. Last year my much larger cornish rocks piled up on top of the layers at night and killed a number of them.

Love your blog!

March 14, 2011 at 6:33 PM  
Blogger Anton said...

To be truly sustainable, you may consider moving away from the Cornish crosses, they're as close to mutant birds as you can get and they don't breed true . . . but I'm sure the industry is working on birds that only grow breasts and extra legs!

March 14, 2011 at 8:32 PM  
Blogger Debi said...

I can't wait to get my chicks ( 5 beautiful Australorps)! We'll be the first in our subdivision to have backyard chickens. I'm hoping we'll start a trend!

March 14, 2011 at 9:21 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I had Jumbo Cornish birds last fall. They refused to go out side. All they did was eat, drink, poop and sit in it to sleep. One had a heart attack right in front of me. Another was dead one morning so I butchered it for dog food. It's cavity was filled with water so it died of heart failure. This year I'll be getting a little longer growing bird like Freedom Rangers.

March 14, 2011 at 9:44 PM  
Blogger annie b. said...

where can you get sustainably hatched chicks for meat birds? i'm a little freaked out by The System, but would like to try raising meat chickens this year.

March 16, 2011 at 2:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but 20 cornish cross are going to eat more than 150lbs of feed to get to 8-10 weeks. Also, in that time frame, they will not dress out to be 8lbs of meat. You need to calculate the average (6lbs for females at 8wks and 7 for males at 8wks, and that's for birds who're free-fed) and multiply the live weight by .7, which will give you a more accurate meat calculation.

I've been raising 40 cornish x for the past five weeks. They've been free-ranging since day three of their lives, and they've already tackled approximately 300lbs of feed, and that's with limited feedings and free range. They also are not as big as free-fed cornish x of the same age.

July 17, 2012 at 4:27 PM  

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