“Dear, could you please pass the chicken?” (aka: Our attempts at raising meat birds)

chickens

chickens

 

For those that have been following our farmstead happenings, you already know the demise of Cockadoo.  If you haven’t, head here.

 

To continue, the untimely demise of Cockadoo led me to this conclusion:  I love the taste of pastured poultry.  LOVE.  I did not know this before we came to roast him up.  Once I had my first taste, however, I began planning on how to get more!  Not to worry – my hens are safe for now.  😉

 

chickens
Yup, you’re safe…
chickens
You too!

After that, I started my research.  Naked neck chickens (or Turkens) are great foragers, and I thought a good fit for the farm, so I located a nearby breeder and dragged the hubby out to get 11 chicks.   I was quite excited, to say the least!  That is, until I kept finding dead ones in our brooder on a near daily basis – Yes.  Dead.  We had raised chicks before, but hadn’t lost any before – I ruled out the obvious issues: food, water, warmth, etc.  Everything seemed up to par.  It wasn’t until I was at work one day that I finally came to a conclusion.  Two of those chicks were a bit bigger than the others – about a week or two older.  The gal I purchased the chicks from said they were all fine to co-habitate, but I had noticed that the biggest one was showing some early aggression toward us when we would come in to feed and water them.  Sure enough, I came home that night to three more dead chicks.   By this point I was beyond pissed.  We were now down to only a few chicks left.  At $3+ each originally, the remaining chickens were proving to be quite pricey!   We came to a final conclusion that the bigger ones were responsible – whether intentional or not.  The chicken gal was kind enough to give us a few replacement chickens – but ended up not getting more naked necks.    The new plan was to keep them separate from the bigger ones – and so far, all are alive after a few weeks!

 

About two weeks ago, we moved the naked necks out to the main coop.  My plan was to adjust them to the flock gently.  We enclosed the new guys in a large cage, and placed that cage inside the coop – this way, I figured everyone can start to get acclimated to each other, without fear for the little ones.  After a few days, we released them out with the others – and all has been well!

 

chickens
The two little naked necks…

Ok, I lied.  All is NOT well.

 

The naked necks are still alive, the hens are still alive – but our egg supply?  Nil.  Nada.  We went from 12-16 eggs per day to…….  NONE.  At first, I panicked.  “Why aren’t the chickens laying?  What is wrong with my chickens? Huh? Huh?”  I am pretty sure my husband was darn near fed up with me.  The funny thing was, they were acting fine!  Same old happy hens + one rooster!

 

Back to the research I went…  Turns out, whenever you integrate new chickens into a flock, there can be a little bit of retaliation in the egg-laying department.   My excitement to bring new chicks in was stressing the ladies out.  Oops.  After spending a little more time out in the pasture, however, I completely understood why the ladies were mad.  Those darn things do.  not.  stop.  chirping.

 

Whoops again.   Sorry girls.

 

Lesson learned.  We are now getting exactly one egg a day, and the big man is building a chicken tractor for the other side of the pasture (the cow and sheep side).   The naked necks should be in there by the end of the week, along with the other chicks (eventually).  Hopefully it won’t be TOO long before egg production picks up again.

 

I will say – I was uber excited to see the work my handy hubby had done while I was at work on Tuesday!  Not to worry – I will update with pics as soon as he is done!

 

This is how we learn these things, right?  Hey, we could have read it in a book – what not to do – but I probably wouldn’t realize the importance until it actually affected me, right?

 

Anyone else run into this before or have any suggestions??  🙂

 

This post can also be seen at the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

 



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3 thoughts on ““Dear, could you please pass the chicken?” (aka: Our attempts at raising meat birds)

    1. I had good luck with “Freedom Ranger” meat chickens. They were raised by a banty broody mom and I think they were too fat and lazy to pick on anyone. She hatched 7 out of 10 and they all lived until we butchered the last at almost 12 weeks.

      1. Thanks! We just order 25 Freedom Ranger chicks – hope all goes well! I have heard that bantys are good brooder!

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