Things that can go wrong raising meat hens:
1. It’s too cold or damp. They should be fully feathered out before they have the heat lamp turned off. If not they will pile for warmth. Especially if the space is small. Putting small blocks of wood in the corners of the brooder to prevent a corner pile is key. If they are introduced to the pasture and it’s still chilly, they will pile for heat and sometimes crush one another. They also will lose body weight to shivering.
2. Not getting them up to their best weight (feed-to-weight conversion) by eight weeks. Cornish crosses are not great foragers. So don’t expect to raise them solely on pasture and get them to 7lb-8lbs in that time. They will need a feed ration as well for optimal health and growth.
3. When moving the chicken tractor, no matter how slow, sometimes one gets a leg stuck. This can cause cellulitis in the leg and cause the bird pain and to be inedible.
4. Predators can wipe out your family’s nourishing food for the winter, and your hopes and hard work in one night.
5. Thinking you are going to save so much money raising your own meat hens because all they are going to eat is bugs and grass and a bit of food. This is a biggie. This is definitely not the reason to grow your own. Your time counts. Inputs matter. I don’t actually save money raising my own meat birds. So why do it? Ethically, I want to be connected to my food. But in the real world of our bank accounts ? I am eating a better quality of meat than I could ever afford on our income.
Love, Jenn xx