Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Round Two Part 2

By the time the chicks were about three weeks old, they were getting too big for the brooder in the garage. The space was getting tight and some of the other more lively breeds (my egg layers) were beginning to fly over the edge.

So Son moved them all outside to the moveable cage. He had repaired and secured the cage from the damage by the dogs. By this time the weather in mid-October had become milder and it had started to rain. We had several weeks with heavy rains. This became a problem for the little chicks. After several days and inches of rain, the ground became saturated and the water began to puddle with no where to drain.

The Cornish Cross breed is bred to be a bit lazy in order to produce more tender meat. But it also means that they aren't lively enough to move around in the cage to get out of standing water. The few lively ones would usually end up bunched together or on top of each other. We had several casualties due to standing water in the cage and bunching up in corners.

In addition to the heavy rains, the storms that brought the rain also brought lower temperatures. We had several days when the temperatures hovered just above freezing, and several nights below freezing. We suffered more casualties.

The challenges we faced during Round Two were from extreme weather conditions rather than from outside forces like wild dogs.

Son decided to process the birds a few days early so we would have some nice meat for Thanksgiving. He moved all the equipment out to the workshop to make it more convenient. The chicks were collected in groups of 10-15 and kept in a large dog crate until he was ready to process them. It took most of the day, but he did all the processing by himself.

The meat was put to chill in an ice bath for 48 hours before bagging and freezing. I helped out with that process. We tried using poultry shrink bags and they worked quite well once we got the hang of it. We kept three chickens for our meal, and put 35 in the freezer.

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