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

Broiler calendar

Pastured poultry

Young australorp chickens

Cornish Cross broilers are usually eaten at 8 weeks.  We give our heirlooms an extra month since they grow slower, but the deadline is still fast approaching.

We killed the rooster last week and have four of last year's broilers left in the freezer.  Looks like we'll be eating a lot of chicken dinners in May.

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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 slaughtered our Delaware chickens last year between 12 and 16 weeks of age, only to recover somewhere between 2.5 and 4 lbs of dressed meat. We were a little disappointed. Later, the birds we didn't slaughter grew to greater weights. I'm wondering if it wouldn't make sense to let our Delaware's grow longer, just to get more meat out of each bird? Have you noticed any of the same with your birds? I understand there's a tradeoff between the cost of feed and the weight gained ... Just curious to hear your thoughts on that trade. Thanks,


Comment by Dan Tue May 8 17:48:24 2012

If you're raising your chickens almost entirely on food scraps or free range, you'll be better off waiting. But if you're buying feed, you start paying a lot more if you keep your birds longer.

Chickens start gaining weight much more slowly after 8 weeks, and the meat also gets tougher much faster after week 9. From a feed to meat standpoint, the younger you slaughter your chickens, the less feed you have to buy per pound of chicken. (This is called the feed conversion rate or feed to meat ratio.)

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Comment by anna Tue May 8 19:27:12 2012

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