Have you ever considered raising meat chickens? Well now is your chance. I’ve been raising meat chickens for the last three years and my family loves it. My family and I are on a journey to a more sustainable lifestyle.
Raising meat chickens is an easy way to provide a lot of our own meat. In fact, in just 8 weeks we can raise enough meat chickens so we never have to buy chicken from the store. Whether you live in the city or on a farm you can do this. We live in the city right now but working toward getting our farm in the next couple years. Are you ready for the challenge?
The Ultimate Meat Chicken Challenge: Raise a year supply of meat chickens in just 8 weeks!
Week 1 – How To Raise Meat Chickens
Raising meat chickens is really easy and a lot of fun. After the initial investment of getting started, it can also be very cost effective and more healthy. At least you know where the meat came from and what it was fed. Here is everything you should consider when starting the meat chicken challenge.
Meat Chickens Starter Checklist
- Shelter: Chicken Coop, Chicken Tractor, Shed, Dog House or Large Box (first week only).
- Gallon Waterer
- Tray Feeder
- Feed: Chicken Starter Grower for first couple weeks, then High Protein Chicken Grower Feed.
- Heat Lamp & Heat Bulb
- Extension Cord
- Optional: Light Timer
Best Meat Chickens – Choosing Your Breed
The best meat chickens are usually cross breeds. That is how they have such amazing growth. The best meat chickens are meant for laying eggs. In fact, they grow so fast that they will start to die after 10 to 12 weeks. Trust me it’s not steroids. These meat chickens just love to eat and they are lazy. There are a few chicken breeds for meat to choose from.
Cornish Rocks– This is probably the most common and best meat chicken breed. It’s also the breed that most local country stores will stock. I have successfully raised Cornish Rocks for the last 3 years. The great thing is they will be ready to butcher after only 8 weeks. Most stores only stock meat chickens in the spring and early summer so if your no locals stores carry them you can buy them online here.
Jersey Giant– These chickens are huge, the largest chicken breed. The males will get around 13 lbs and the female 10 lbs. They do take longer to grow, about 6 months to full maturity. They’re almost like turkeys. They even lay huge eggs.
Heritage Meat Chickens
Basically, these are the chicken breeds that were defined by the American Poultry Association around 1873. The nice thing about Heritage Chickens is they can lay eggs and can be used as meat chickens. They’re not going to have the fast growth like the Cornish Rocks but if you want dual purpose chickens these could be a good option. Some of the best Heritage Chickens that you can raise for meat are the following:
Delaware- If you ate chicken on the East Coast during the 1950s then you most likely were eating a Delaware. They are a cross between the Barred Plymouth Rock and New Hampshire. They are a friendly breed and males can weigh 8.5 lbs and females 6.5 lbs.
Dorking- This breed originated in Italy during the Roman Empire. They make good brooder hens and are one of the best breeds for continually laying eggs through the winter. I have read they are friendly around kids and dogs. The males can weigh 10 to 14 lbs and the females 8 to 10 lbs.
Buckeye- This breed handles cold weather very well and is a good free-range chicken. They don’t do well in confined spaces. This breed is the only one that was created by a woman, Nettie Metcalf in Ohio. Woman Power! The males get up to 9 lbs and the females up to 6.5 lbs.
Where to buy meat chickens?
I buy my meat chickens at Cal Ranch Stores. They have great customer service and are always very helpful. They have them in stock starting in the early spring and go until the end of may. I prefer to buy my meat chickens in May since the weather is warmer.
Online Stores To Buy Meat Chickens:
What can I use for meat chicken houses?
Any small chicken coop or chicken tractor will work fine as long as it can keep the meat chickens warm and dry and safe from predators. They don’t need a lot of space starting out. My chicken tractor has an enclosed section that is 2 ft by 2 ft and that is plenty of space for 20 meat chickens a gallon waterer and feeder tray. You can also start them out in a box or a dog house would work as well as long as it had a door on it.
As my meat chickens grow I will open the door that lets them down into the lower part of the chicken tractor. Eventually, I will open the door and let them free range in my yard. The great thing about Cornish Rocks is they are lazy and so they don’t go very far away from their food and water.
What to feed meat chickens?
How long does it take to raise a meat chicken?
It depends on the meat chicken breed you choose but if you go with the Cornish Rocks then you are looking at 8 weeks to have them ready to butcher. Most other breeds are going to take longer to grow. However, a meat chicken doesn’t have to be full grown. You can always butcher them while they are smaller.
How to care for meat chickens?
Caring for meat chickens is quite easy. Here are a few tips from my experience.
Feed- Make sure their feeder is always full. If you when you start finding it empty then get another feeder or fill your feeder more often. I check my feeder once a day and top it off. It is fun to watch as they get older all they do is eat. Make sure they have as much feed as they will eat.
Water- Make sure they always have plenty of clean water to drink. I only need to fill my one-gallon waterer every 2 to 3 days at first. As they get bigger you will want to upgrade to a larger waterer.
Heat– Leave the heat lamp on all day and night for the first couple weeks then just at night when the weather gets warmer. As they get bigger eventually you won’t need the heat lamp at all. I like to start my meat chickens in May since the weather is usually warmer by then.
Shelter- Make sure they are always warm and dry. I keep my 20 meat chickens in a 2 ft by 2 ft pen until they get bigger. Their poop starts to build up so I recommend you clean it out once a week. If you want to get crazy you can add dry sawdust but I never do.
That’s it. I told you it was pretty easy. My kids love to help feed the chicks and pet them.
Raising Meat Chickens – Bigger Everything