The Last Broilers of 2012

Well, it’s time.  We recieved our last batch of broilers for the year.  We were on the fence about ordering more birds but the weather cooled off a bit, it finally rained and we are nearly sold out of boneless breast meat.  At the last minute we decided to order 125 chicks.

I called our normal hatchery, Schlecht Hatchery, to see if she could fit me in the 8/15 shipment.  Etta said she had gone to hatching every other week and wouldn’t be able to fill my order until September 5th.  Well, a Sep. 5th ship date means a Nov. 1. butcher date.  I don’t want to butcher chickens in November again…too cold.  I called another supplier, Sun Ray Hatchery (also in Iowa).  They acted like they were waiting for me to call.  No problem at all with my order.

I had very good luck with turkeys from Sun Ray last summer and I have high hopes for their chicks.  At any rate, these are all destined to be cut-up birds, available either Oct. 13th or 20th depending on weather.  Between now and then we have a good supply of whole frozen birds and backs but very few boneless breasts, leg quarters or wings available.  If you are in the market for a whole bird or one hundred whole birds, give us a call.  That means it’s a good time to learn how to cook and use the whole bird.  Look for a new series on cooking the whole bird soon and check back for updates as these little birdies grow.  They will be on pasture in early September.

Before the chicks arrived we went through the normal routine.  We put a layer of well-composted (and quite warm) wood chips down in an even layer.  Then we turned on the heat lamps.  We thought we only needed two lamps but it turned out later we needed three.  No big deal.  We filled the water bucket with 5 gallons of water and 1/4th cup of sugar.  The sugar tip came from Andy Lee in Chicken Tractor.  He actually says 3 Tlbs sugar or honey per quart of water for the first 2 days.  I also filled two feed trays and two bucket lids with feed and nestled them into the bedding so they were level with the ground.  That gives the chicks a place to eat at ground level.  It’s important that they don’t have to reach up to eat and, I think, important they don’t have to jump hurdles as they run around and play.  Tomorrow they will get creek sand on top of their feed but today I just want them to drink, warm up and rest.

The post office called early in the morning but we finished our chores before driving to town.  Everybody looked great.  Julie counted 80 chicks from her crate, I lost count of mine.  There were supposed to be 125.  We’ll count them again as we unload the brooder.

Two by two we loaded them into the brooder.  I don’t know how they know but chicks know how to be chicks.  They went right to work.  Scratching, pecking, running, chasing, even drinking from the watering nipples.  Amazing.

Even more amazing was the packaging label.  Caution!  Step Back!  Dangerous Chickens!  OMG!!!  BIRD FLU!!!!!

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7 thoughts on “The Last Broilers of 2012

  1. The brooder looks great. How do they know there is wateri in the nipples over their heads? I’ve always dipped beaks in a regular waterer when unloading chicks…I cannot BELIEVE the biohazard sign. Did the postal clerk wear gloves and a mask, or what? This is the kind of thing that’s going to end postal delivery for chicks.

    • I don’t know what was up with the sign. I’m going to keep it though.

      This was the first year for the nipples. We stopped dipping beaks last year because we didn’t find it necessary with chicks. Poults are a different story though. The nipples are shiny and you watch the little chicks attack them right away. They bite down, hold on and try to tear them out of the PVC. Then they realize they have a mouth full of water so they stop to swallow. It takes no time at all and the rest of them learn from the first. Again, poults are a different story.

  2. i am also amazed by the biohazard sign. i can imagine the future where the each tree in every park has a biohazard sign, right next to a hand sanitizing station. i am using a ohio-style hover with two bulbs which seems to be working at conserving heat and energy, but it’s kind of a pain to clean under and maneuver around. i am really interested in your drip drinkers. did you order those or build them? any issues with them? they are fed by one 5-gallon bucket? also i wanted to share a success with you. i ordered another 2 segments of pig netting, so now i can run a bigger paddock with a better gate system. the pigs seem really happy with the larger space. each one ran a few complete joy laps around the perimeter. so Premier1 sends a little flier along about their netting. One of the bullets under “Why it’s a unique fence” states –“It requires no “sweat energy.” hahahaha. i should send them a picture of me with my pants soaked with sweat after i get done clearing a paddock and pushmowing a line for the fence. if only all fields looked like the golf courses in their brochure. i really do like the company and their products, i just had to laugh at that. do you have any tricks to setting up your paddocks. since i only have a pushmower to work with at the moment, i mow a perimeter and then place the fencing. but it’s always difficult to judge the distances and where to place the corners. ok i’m done.

    • Pig fence first.
      I don’t mow before setting fence. I step the weeds and grass down and push in my posts. I also have one unholy mother of a fence charger… I’m glad your pigs have more room to run…making them more lean. Modern pigs are genetically lean so this may not be entirely desirable.

      The chick nipple drinkers were ordered online. Each red nub was about $1.20 counting shipping. I drilled the appropriate holes at 6″ centers in 1″ or 1.5″ PVC, capped the ends then drilled a hole to fit the water line in. The water line fits snugly…no fittings. Each 5-gallon bucket feeds two 4′ lengths of PVC. I ordered the nipples from CCOnly through ebay. You can find them a bit cheaper elsewhere but CCOnly put up some very helpful videos and I wanted to show them some appreciation.

      I have to admit the nipples drip just a little bit. I could have caulked the threads but we just went without. The drip keeps the bedding moist and composting. We just add a little bit of course sawdust on top of the wet spot from time to time and shovel it out each week. The composting action is nice but it becomes anaerobic if you let it continue.

  3. i have to ask what unholy model of fence charger you have? i’m using premier’s solar charger which is really flexible but i would like a little more zip. the pigs don’t seem as afraid of it as i’d like. i really want to try that watering system, maybe next season. i’ve seen square pvc tubing, i wonder if that would prevent some dripping? also what chick/nipple ratio do you think is good? thanks again.

    • If nothing else the nipples are good because they stay clean. FarmTek says you need one for every 12-15 birds but I think we offer one for every 10.

      I have a 5 joule charger I bought from Fertrell. It will light you up. We have a 1 joule on the pigs now that there is moisture in the soil. Really, it’s all about the ground. The solar charger should do the trick. We run that around our pullets.

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