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Raising Meat Birds Start to Finish
Chapter Six, Weeks Five and Six
Sorry the blog didn't get published weekly but things got very busy.
During Week 5 the chickens continue to grow at a rapid pace. They graduate on to the larger trough size feeders and 4 large waterers. They have decreased the weeds in their pen significantly. They continue to graze on the weeds as the time passes and they grow hungry at night since they aren't fed more processed feeds at night. We have been supplementing their food supply at night with bread and milk, and fruits and scraps.
We get produce that has gotten overripe and can be used for livestock feed. Cantaloupe should make for some very sweet meat! We always try to keep them happy and entertained for their short life. There is no reason they can't live a sweet life too.
During the fifth and sixth week the chickens develop fast and it becomes quite clear the roosters and the hens and they are able to enjoy shade, and weeds and soil. The recent rains have not kept them from venturing out into their yard and becoming quite muddy as well even though they could stay inside if they wanted. They are just being Chickens.
Raising Meat Birds Start To Finish
Chapter 5, Week 4
We passed week 4 with the loss of a second bird. I failed to mention losing a chick during week 2 to an unknown cause. This week we had to euthanize a bird that developed leg problems and couldn't walk. These losses happen and though I have tried many times to nurse these types of birds thru this problem, they never have gotten better or survived to grow any further and the condition must be painful. So we did not let this one suffer.
As you can see we have moved on a step further in bringing in the larger wooden troughs. This gives me a place to feed many birds fast and keep them busy while I fill the other feeders. These guys are chilling in the nice shade provided by the tall weeds.
The wooden trough is homemade and provides a large feeding space while still discouraging them from standing in it. The center rod can roll so they lose their balance, keeping them out of the feed.
During the heat of the day they enjoy the shade and cool water inside their shed. The flaps that open out give even more shade.
Raising Meat Birds Start To Finish
Chapter 4, Week 3-- Be a chicken!
Happy Day! We moved OUTSIDE!
At three weeks old they had enough feathers to move outside to the open shed and much larger pen with dirt and weeds to enjoy! The yard is 24ft x 24ft square. This gives them a lot of sun, soil, and weeds to enjoy.
Learning to be chickens they are dusting in the nice fresh dirt! They are still unsure about having so much space. So they are staying close to the shed.
One little man found him a nice weedy place in the shade. It will be so much nicer to take care of them. They are using the 5 larger, trough like feeders and now have three of the larger waterers (2 -3 gallon and 1-5 gallon one). We may add one more waterer as time goes on. I also placed the four 1 gallon waterers around the yard so they don't get away from the shed and over heat before they learn how to get back and forth.
Raising Meat Birds Start to Finish
Chapter three. Growing, Growing, Growing
Half way thru week two we have had to upgrade to the larger feeders. It makes feeding and taking care of them faster as well as they can spread out more as they are growing in leaps and bounds. I also cleaned them again and they are enjoying the fresh bedding.
We added a larger 3 gallon waterer as well since they are drinking and eating so much. We keep the one gallon waterers out too so they don't have to go to far to find water anywhere in the room. During the day I turn the brooder lights off as well but with our cooler afternoons and storms I make sure they are on for them at night. The room stays plenty warm during the day for them. Despite the excellent care they are getting we did lose a chick to an unknown cause. But the other 103 are doing fine.
And yet others like this little girl are almost fully feathered out. With luck by the end of week three we can look at moving them outside if they are big enough and feathered enough to go without the brooder. They have to be bigger than the chain link fence and able to sleep together at night for warmth in the shed without brooder lights. The unusual weather may be a challenge but we can cope.
Entering Week Two with a good cleaning and still 104 strong. The chicks were having fun being wild and crazy kids today as I had to clean with them in there. We do half the room. Re-bed that half. Move the food and water and clean the second half closer to the door. They ran about like crazy on their own and without being harassed in any way. They played on the mountain and had fights with each other and my feet. They are growing so fast, they naturally rest on their bellies to eat. It's been warm enough to turn the brooder lights off during the day saving energy if I'm home to warm them up if it storms.
They are feathering out on their wings and tails already and some on the chest and shoulders. Eat, eat, eat. Its the driving force in their lives but they are living and picking on each other and working the dominance angle of who gets the best spots. In short being Chickeny... as suggested like what Joel says being Piggy...
The smell and mess has almost driven out the cuteness but then they look at you. They are what they are, its what they do, and we appreciate all they do for us. I will make sure they are happy and healthy, right up until they aren't. We Honor Them the whole way.
As you may recall I started this soon to be ongoing blog with a photo of all the setup we had done for the arrival of our meat chickens. But as FARM FATE would have it the plan was changed. The hatchery wasThey look yellow and white but they are all yellow.
unable to mail us the chicks on the scheduled date because of extreme heat in
Nebraska and had already had to furnish replacements for some orders that didn't
survive the shipping. Thus causing the next problem. They had to sell our chicks and we had to wait till they had fresh day old chicks so they can be shipped. A chick has a portion of the yolk left inside it's stomach when it hatches to provide food and liquid for the chick till it learns how to find food and water usually 2-3 days worth. That's how they are able to be shipped. We waited, and waited while having already set dates for the planned butchering class....
One week later we were able to have them sent and they arrived safe and sound! 104 sweet little yellow puffs of feathers. Snuggled up warm and safe in their shipping box. It was only 68' outside when I picked them up so they were happy to snuggle. Central Hatchery called us just as soon as they had a chance to collect enough chicks and ship them.Good Water! Nebraska's HOT!
Once they have been counted each chick is removed from the box and given a drink. First and foremost to be sure EACH chick gets some hydration started, so it knows what the waterer is and it is given a health check. Feet, bottoms for pasty butt, and anything else note worthy. You may have noticed I use newspaper on the floors starting out.What's This? Having some food.
That is to prevent a deadly condition known as pasty butt. Where the manure and feathers stick to their bottoms making it impossible to GO. This is caused by eating wood shavings. We introduce the chicks to food and water and for a few days they will stay on the papers. Then we can introduce wood shavings without them eating to many of them and becoming sick. A chicks mother usually introduces them to food and water.Lots to explore
This group of 104 are healthy and active and chasing flies and bugs, and each other. Their trip seems to have been a good one and we will keep you posted on their progress. You are welcome to visit them and take a tour. Preparations on their next pen are underway. They move outside in 3-4 weeks.
Raising Meat Chickens
After a long day's work the stage is set!
The meat birds will be here tomorrow or Friday. We are set and ready. I will attempt to blog out the experience with photos too leading right up to our Chicken Processing Class.
Each week or even few days will show extreme changes in the chicks up until they are grown.
I am always completely business when it comes to raising food and I try to honor the animal in all ways, in all their care and treatment until they complete their mission. They are well cared for and live a full life. See our classes page for the details of the class for Chicken Processing! We are ready!
Milk Using Class
I was very surprised to be invited to share in the upcoming class given by Hungry Chicken Homestead about all the things you can do with your milk share. Since Bonnie is a milk share customer of Easter Egg Acres, I was thrilled to help. I even volunteered to make ice cream to share. There are alot of steps in making ice cream but it is so worth it all. You can make large batches and save in single serve cups for later too. Even people who are lactose intolerant can eat ice cream made with goats milk.
To start with you must make a custard or a milk based slury. This is a slury that does not contain eggs but I will be giving out our recipe for both the custard or slury in the class tomorrow night (May 9th, spots are still available). A vanilla bean is used in making the slury and cookies are to add later to the finished frozen mix.
I prepared my ice cream freezer (purchased at Walmart for around 20$) and began to load it with creamy goodness. The parts are the base tub, the motor, the paddle, the lid, and the drum. Place your cream slury in the drum, insert the paddle, and place the lid on top.
Stand the drum in the center of the base tub (there's a hub for it to set on in the bottom center) and begin to layer rock salt and ice around the drum. Only place one layer of salt then a layer of ice in the tub before securing the motor on top. Plug in the motor starting the drum rotating so you can layer the rest of the ice and salt with it turning. This keeps the drum from getting stuck and makes it begin the freezing process much faster.
Continue to do layers of salt, then ice, then salt, then ice till the base tub is full. Then let it run until you hear a definate slowing of the motor as it has a harder time turning the drum with the frozen ice cream inside. Add ice and salt as needed until the drum sounds like its thicker. The ice will melt and there is a drain hole on the base tub so I leave it in the sink so if the saltwater gets too full it can drain away as it keeps freezing.
Then as it happily grinds away you blog about the experience till it's done!
Mid Kid Season
Kidding season began a few weeks ago with a nice set of triplet bucks from Queen Anne up in Monument. The next day we got a set of triplets from Queen Victoria too with two does and a buck. So the fun began with 6 baby goats in the house. Thankfully we have two large dog kennels to house them. We let Victoria keep the boy to mother him some before he was sold because last year she didn't take care of her kids.
We had barely gotten the bigger kids outside when these three showed up. The nubian is from our Purebred Sapphire (AKA B'Lou Bell). Sadly he had a sister we lost to compilcations and he had to wait a few days alone to get new friends. But they are growing fast and playing nice together. The Cou Blanc (half black half white) kids are from Firefly. A nice big buck and doe. The little nubian wanted to make it quite clear that no matter what anyone said about the spot on the rug, it wasn't HIM.
This monsterously BIG Buck was born soon after the Cou Blanc. We are very lucky as large as he was that his mother Anise, who is only a year old herself, didn't have problems or have damage to herself. But she is doing fine and milking really well for a first freshener. This little guy looks just like Dad.
Into the mix came a set of triplets from our experimental Alpine Oberhausli, Princess Sarah Ferguson of two bucks and a doe. Very small and very much a surprise that there were three. Not hard to tell they are Ober crosses. We were hoping for a throwback to the black in their Oberhausli bloodlines for some black kids too but not to be. Only two days later came a set of Cou Blanc boys from Queen Elizabeth. These were a wild card set of kids from the only time a buck has ever gotten loose here. I thought she was bred for May....
Most recently Queen Mary gave us a set of triplets with two does and one buck. These kids are having some issues and it remains to be seen if either of the girls will be in the upcoming show lineup. Mary placed 4th at the 2012 ADGA National Dairy Goat Show. We had very much hoped for and very happy to have gotten does from her. Keeping our fingers crossed.
So for the first half of our kidding season we have had 19 kids from 8 mothers, with 6 more does left to kid. We often sell our little bucklings quite quickly to reduce the work load in caring for the kids.* We do however have the Purebred Nubian Buckling Bister on our For Sale page . He comes from excellent bloodlines and is being sold very reasonably if anyone is in the market for a Purebred Nubian Buck. We also have a large number of milk shares available for sale. The girls are milking extremely well already and we love to share the farm fresh goodness. For more information check our milk share page.
*we raise Registered goats in the Recorded Grade catagory and the bucks cannot be registered as they are not proven to be 100% pure. This is the first year we have Purebred Nubians and will have American Alpines if the girls decide to give girls.
Always learning something new.
In farming you are always learning new skills and better ways to understand your animals.
After ten years of raising goats I decided this year to bottle/bucket all the kids, selling the boys as we go and keeping the girls for future show and sale items.
I had used a bucket feeder a few years back but I waited to try to train them to it until they were a month or more old.
Not this time, we were going to master it at only 3 days old. Or so I thought ...how hard could it be ?
So 5 little goats and their caretaker began their journey!
A bucket feeder works using nipples and tubes to draw milk out of the bucket just like they would from a bottle. A one way valve on the tube keeps the milk from dropping back down into the bucket if they stop nursing so its ready at the nipple all the time.
I made sure that I used these nipples to train the babies to the bottle so they were familiar and use to the size and feel of them before trying the bucket.
First attempt...let the two girls out and try to get them to use the feeder. They both tried and got a few sips of milk then decided that wandering around the rest of the room peeing was much more interesting.
OK so adapt and overcome, out comes the ratty old used playpen to put them in. That helped and they drank pretty well and with a towel in the pen mess contained, right? WRONG! After drinking their fill the little girls then back up to the soft sided pen and pee out onto the floor. Well they are goats...
Next alteration...place washable material under and outside the playpen to catch messes. Check!
Then ofcouse came my wonderful partner to observe as I put the girls back in their kennel and let the boys have a go at the new bucket feeder.
I failed to mention my first attempt was done using a regular round bucket that is made to feed goats. AKA: NOT the one in the photo.
Well three boys in the pen and the bucket they were quite crowded and you cannot guide and train more goats than you have hands for much less keep them from trying to tip the bucket over. To snickering in the background I scoop up one of the boys and put him back in the kennel while getting the other two fed.
Finally to good success and feeding acheived when I remembered these nifty square buckets I had recycled for feeding less kids at one time. Fits the playpen better or as pictured hangs on the kennel doors to let them have just a bit more in case they didn't get enough in the playpen.
New skill learned by the goats, new mentality learned by the caretaker and feeding is a breeze with this new system because I can also be cleaning, doing laundry, and freshening their kennels while they eat all by themselves. YAY! I think it's time for an after lunch nap.