Tuesday’s morning forecast called for 45 degrees but from then on it isn’t supposed to get below 50…for a while. It snowed on April 20th four years ago and it frosted last May on the 10th so we’re crossing our fingers here. We felt it was safe to move half of the broilers out to pasture Monday, the rest on Tuesday since they will have a week of warm, mostly dry weather to acclimate to their new home.
We bought these chicks from Schlecht Hatchery in Iowa. Schlecht is nice as could be to work with, not too far away, their chicks are reasonably priced and, most importantly, we have a very high survival rate with their birds. I believe they shipped us 309 chicks and 305 made it to the pasture. That’s a pretty high percentage for anyone raising CX chicks but I would like to do better. Some of the success was due to our management but Schlecht chicks are pretty reliable. One batch we got from Schlecht two years ago saw 100% survival rate from post office to slaughter.
The method is simple:
1. Corner 10 or so chicks in the brooder with a sorting board.
2. Load them, 50 at a time, into the transport boxes.
3. Haul to the alfalfa field (200 yards away).
5. Add feed and water as needed and fresh pasture daily until grown.
6. Kill, scald, pluck, eviscerate and chill then stuff with onion, coat lightly with butter, salt and pepper, roast at 350 for a couple of hours and serve with your favorite sides.
Bonus: We are putting down something on the order of 300 pounds of nitrogen per acre while debugging our alfalfa crop. The second and third cuttings will be amazing!
Here are some pictures:
Here are some excellent books on this subject if you are interested in more information:
Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin
Raising Poultry on Pasture from APPPA
Chicken Tractor by Andy Lee