Raising Meat Birds

It was a (seemingly) eternal 6 weeks! 

fat chicken

Yes, those were 6 long weeks that we raised these meat birds, this year.  The boys stirred more than they have before.  They checked feeders and waterers until they could almost do it in their sleep, which at the end they did!

We listened to many friends this year, took lots of notes, requested recipes, and made some choices of our own. 

more new chicks

We got our birds about 6 weeks ago.  Not just 25 chickens.  We were so excited to get an extra pen, which then became 2 extra pens!  So after bringing home 75 baby chicks, we made a few calls and shared our bounty with a friend!

new chicks

 

So, down to 50 – the process began!

 

We did not really lose any in the beginning.  Probably not until about week 4.  That is pretty good for us!  Pretty good in general.

We used the recommended feed (from friends) and we started to stir while they were just days old. 

Stirring means going in and waking them all up.  When they are still inside we make sure to have the radio on all night to help them stay awake more and EAT.  It is all about EATING. 

After about 3 weeks we moved the chicks into the coop outside.  We moved the heat lamp with them to keep them warm enough and to ensure there was light.

Finally, the end was in sight.  At a week out we asked the boys to start waking up twice at night and stirring them. 

{That was a complete  failure!!}  Note to homeschooler : Alarm clocks do not work!!! 

So every night I would wake up to an alarm clock going off, or a screaming 8 year old shouting “Turn it off” to his brothers!  Oh the joy of raising meat birds to show!!

fat chicken

All grown up – and still eating….

fat chickens

Finally, a day out, a friend coordinated to have a former AG teacher come by and help us pick out our chickens!  That is always a treat, to learn from someone who has done this in the past, and knows lots of stuff to teach you!

This is Mr. B – our new friend!

Mr b

 

We got all our chickens out (all those who were fat enough to compete)  Then we lined up so he could “judge” them and tell us which ones he thought we should show.  We had some much appreciated help from our friends

 

picking chicken 2picking chicken 3

 

Then it was marking the ones with different colored leg bands for the show – an included an alternate, just in case!

At the show we were teaching friends how to hold the chickens and avoid getting pooped on, because no one likes that!!

learning to hold

And quite proud of our chickens too!

J with pen

P with pen

Finally you go into the arena with 42 other people and their pens of chickens, and then the wait begins.  First, the judge goes through the line once, puts everyone in a different line (one of three) and you have no idea if your line is good or bad.  Lovely.  A very tense time. 

J and holders

P and holders

Then he goes through each line and rank orders you.  At one point he moved J from to the far left of the first row – again, NO idea what that means.  We are all speculating, is that the good end?  Bad end??  No one can figure out the rhyme to the reason.

Finally, the judge got to the boy who won #1 and #2 last year and he moves him toward J – and we knew!!  He was at the good end!!  He is claiming he was Grand Champion for about 10 minutes.  But not really.  When it was over J was #3 out of 44 pens of chickens!!  And P ended up #15 – and both boys made sale!!

They worked hard and it paid off!!

J 3rd placeP 15th place

I had two very tired, very happy boys at the end of the day!

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