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!!!!!