The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Black australorp broilers, part 1

Bagged chickensWe slaughtered our two biggest cockerels on Monday to get a feel for whether we should plan to kill all the birds from flock 1 this week or wait a little longer.  My goal is to get a two pound dressed carcass, and our birds are still a little shy of the mark at 1.86 pounds apiece, so most of our flock will get a short reprieve.

Although the cockerels were light weight, I was thrilled to see that their feed to meat conversion ratio was 4.5 : 1 --- vastly lower than what we got last year with dark cornish and also lower than published figures for any broiler breeds other than cornish cross.  Stay tuned to our chicken blog this week for more serious number crunching.

Chicken stewIn addition to saving money on feed, these permaculture pastured chickens will give us higher quality meat.  I know it sounds unscientific, but I'm starting to get a gut feeling for the gestalt of a healthy chicken (probably based on cleanliness of the carcass and uniformity of the internal organs.)  As I pored over these birds' entrails, I was so pleased with their quality that I cooked some chicken neck and liver stew for supper.  Sounds a bit crazy, but tasted pretty good.

Our chicken waterer kept our flock well hydrated during hard days of hunting for bugs.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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We cooked one of ours a few weeks ago, and were really happy with it as well. Then last week, foxes got into our run and slaughtered our whole flock! Grr. They killed about 20 chickens and 2 ducks, and only took 2 chickens with them. Such a waste!

So, back to the drawing board for some fox-proof pens and we'll start rebuilding the flock.

Comment by Darren (Green Change) Tue Jul 12 19:59:56 2011
I'm so sorry to hear that! It seems like predators are the single biggest problem with raising chickens. It always feels like there should be a more permaculture solution than fortification, but I haven't stumbled across it yet. Even Lucy lets the little chick predators through (although she does keep the big ones at bay.)
Comment by anna Wed Jul 13 08:25:42 2011
Remind me not to come visit on chicken neck and liver stew day :-)
Comment by Heather Wed Jul 13 10:44:27 2011
Note to self: Heather wants me to set aside some chicken necks and livers for her. Will do! :-)
Comment by anna Wed Jul 13 13:14:55 2011

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