How To Raise Chickens To Eat
Raising your own birds for the table can result in a higher quality of meat than those found at grocery stores or butcher shops. In this brief video tutorial, a professional in the field of poultry management explains how commercial growers fatten chickens as quickly as possible, and why it may be a better idea for you to do it yourself more slowly, in a more natural, free-range way.
If you're going to raise chickens for eating, the best way to do this is probably to do them on a free-range basis. Start off with some Cobb chickens, which are usually the male chickens. These will fatten up a lot quicker, a lot bigger birds.
You can fatten up the hens but it will probably take a little bit longer. If you're keeping chickens to fatten up, the best place to keep them will be with a large outdoor run so that they have plenty of exercise. It will take longer to fatten the birds up for the table, but you'll get a lot better quality meat, happier birds and such like.
It probably wouldn't be as economical. They must also have quite a large area where they can get inside, in the dry, up to roost, and what have you. If you're doing them in any numbers, then the size of the pen or the shed that you're keeping them, it's best it's on the large size rather than too small, because being cockerels, they will tend to scrap and fight a bit.
And so if it's too small, there'll be a bit of bullying going on. Not so much if it's a free-range. They can actually then get away from the dominant cockerel and run around.
You feed them on a growers pellet. If they are free range, the exercise will do them a lot of good. Sometimes if you feed just a growers pellet and the birds are inside with not a lot of exercise, they will go off their legs, and you'll have a bit of a problem.
They get too fat too quick. But the free-range basis is a lot surer, safer way of doing things. If you're going to keep chickens on a commercial fattening basis for the table, this is a completely different kettle of fish from the free-range sort of amateur style of doing things.
All the birds would be kept inside. You'd keep them on shavings, something like that, water, food, adlib the whole time. The idea is to get that bird to weight as quickly as possible without it burning up too much energy, therefore burning up food, costing money, etc.
They'd usually be under artificial lights as well, so it's daylight hours, so that you can get as much feeding in as possible. If you're rearing birds inside, on a very commercial basis, the quality of the meat isn't going to be nearly as good as your free-range chicken. The bird isn't going to be as happy.
If you're not having to do it commercially, if you're not doing it to make money and you're just doing it for the table, then the free-range option is easily the best way to go. The meat is a lot better quality. .