Chicken Busting Myths

| 4/8/2015 9:18:00 AM

Robert PekelThe warm weather has the pear, peach and apple trees bursting with blooms. The robins singing tell me spring is here, and it’s time to think chickens. So my trusty Lab, Beau, and The Kid head to the feed store. The local feed stores usually have the variety and quantity I’m looking for, but sometimes they don’t. If not, they will special order them in lots of 25.

Redbud in Bloom

I can count on this system to fill the freezer with healthy chickens loaded with flavorful meat. It’s called “The Kid's Sure Fire System” (KSFS). It starts with raising the right breed in the right way. I begin with 25 chicks in March, and another 25 in May. Two batches of 25 chicks are easier to handle, especially at butcher time. Fifty chickens equate to about one chicken dinner a week, that’s a good place to start. Today the feed store had 30 Cornish Rock (meat) chicks on hand – perfect.

Now let's bust some myths.

Myth 1: Cornish Rock and Cornish Cross chickens are not good homestead chickens because they are the industry standard broiler. They are the standard for a reason – Cornish Rock produces the best meat, quality and quantity wise.

How it is raised determines a healthy chicken or the industrial creation of Franken-chicken. Homesteaders can raise this breed successfully if the chickens receive plenty of sunshine, fresh air and exercise. Free range is good, but a pen will protect them from coyotes, raccoons and hawks looking for a quick, easy meal. For that reason, in the KSFS system, chickens free range several hours a day, and only when I can keep and eye on them. This is enough time to add bugs and grasses to their diet. This natural diet will require a little coaxing. Cornish Rock tend to belly up to the feeder rather than forage, but in time they will run the yard and even (try to) fly.

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