Self Sufficient Living

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Rearing Chickens

If you are considering rearing chickens to eat there are some basic principle that we believe should be observed so that the chickens have the best quality of life possible. An outdoor area for sunshine and dirt to dust bath and scratch about in, good feed, fresh water, green vegetation and good indoor ventilation with natural light and clean straw or shavings etc.
(dont use hay it's dust causes respiratory problems)

Hatching Eggjust pipped

Housing:- our chicks have a dry sheltered house with good ventilation and plenty of room per bird (over 2 sq ft each) and an outdoor run as well to scratch about in. They are fed on organic growers pellets and get fresh leaves ie lettuce, dandelion or cabbage each day.

Feb 2009
We have just hatched 15 Cornish Giant chicks which are now 6-7 weeks old, hopefully after 12 weeks the top weightwill be around 8- 10lbs Cock birds tend to put on weight faster than hens and so should be the larger.

two hatched chick in incubator

Brood Area:-  is a box made from MDF with an infra red heat lamp, this is suspended over one corner to allow warmth if required and a cooler area away from the lamp too prevent over heatingsmall. A wire roof to prevent attacks from rats is a good idea and stop the chicks jumping out. A small water hopper and chick crumbs are provided and wood shavings on the floor, not saw dust as it causes repiratory problems.

one above

The 14 Light Sussex chicks are now 8 weeks old and look like proper chickens, they love being outside in their outdoor area, any greens are gobbled up, favourites are spinach, lettuce and grass cuttings, I have now changed their feed from chick crumbs to organic growers pellets which has no chemical growth promoters or antibiotics.

Light Sussex Chicks in their house

The light sussex are now in the freezer having had a good life of around 12 weeks. They were not as big as we had hoped possible having run around too much, the cockrells weighed around 4 lbs each the hens around 3.5lbs. Next time I am going to use a breed called Cornish Giant.

incubator

Commercial rearing:- in the past chickens have been kept in a confined space to prevent them running around and burning off the energy of a high protein diet, so that the protein is converted into meat as quickly as possible. But this can cause suffering with legs becoming too weak to support the weight of the bird and burns on the breast bone from the ammonia in the droppings (I am sure you will have heard of or seen Hugh Fernley Whittingstall's programme on this).

egg hatching

Hatching:- normally the chick pip a small hole in the shell then a period of several hours can go by when nothing appears to happen, then in a matter of a couple of hours the chick pushes off shell around in a circle, finally the inner membrane is all that holds the chick in the shell this it eventually splits and out the chick pops all wet and floppy. Once hatched I leave them in the incubator for a couple of hours to dry off and recover from the effort of hatching

Im out a wet  tired chick

I look better after a wash & brush up

one chick cute and fluffy
Light Sussex 6 weeks old