Growing my own fried chicken


I have raised chickens, actually laying hens, most of my life. Dad used to take me down to the local hatchery every Easter weekend for a couple of chicks (much to my mom’s dismay,) so when we moved to the country I naturally wanted chickens. I came into the spring of 2012 with 18 laying hens and 1 mean rooster. They were a mix of light Brahmas, White Leghorns, Rhode Island Reds, and Black Giants. The laying hens were no problem, but the broilers proved to be a bit more challenging.  

My daughter Emma checking our chick order 

In early spring, I started scoping out the hatchery catalogs searching for the best selections and more affordable prices. I got my chicks ordered, and they came in the mail on March 3rd.  I ordered 100 broilers and 12 replacement layers and 2 new roosters. I had read that you should start small, but silly me I believed that if you go, go big. With chickens, there is a sharp learning curve. Broilers need a high protein feed at least 20%. By day 9, I had lost 6 to them eating themselves to death. They would just lay by the feeder and eat until they couldn’t move or breathe. I cut back to feeding twice a day instead of 4. I was still going through at least 140 lbs of feed a week.

After 4 weeks, I moved them to my chicken tractors.
Broilers in the tractor 

Everything was going well for about a week, except the broiler chicks never climbed up the ramp to go inside the shelter. They slept outside, which worked until an ice/snow storm hit. I was crawling around in the chicken tractor in the storm rescuing chickens. I had lost 6 before it was all over. I later learned that a temporary light, even a little solar powered light would attract the birds to go into the shelter.

I kicked the laying hens out of the chicken coop and put the broilers in it. The hens were used to being free during the day; I just got in the habit of letting them in the coop at night. If I didn’t, they just kept circling the coop. After a week, I just let them all out. The broilers don’t venture far, but follow me everywhere. It was a little hard to do yard work with 80+ chickens following me, getting in front of me, untying my shoes, and constantly tripping me.  Trust me, flip flops were out of the question since they pecked at my toes.

Malisa Niles
6/11/2012 7:26:04 PM

I see alot of disconnect even here in rural America. I dont know how people can not be curious on where their food comes from.

Malisa Niles
6/11/2012 7:24:48 PM

Thanks for the tips! They are great. I will let you know how it turns out:)

Candice Haase
6/2/2012 5:46:29 AM

Here are a few things we did before moing back into town. SIgh....I miss my chickens. After the initial cleaning of the birds we would pull out the best ones to keep whole for roasting. Then we cut up the birds and put the respective pieces in seperate 2.5 gallon zipper bags in the coolers. Legs, theighs, wings, all were cut appart and bagged. The breast seperated from the backs and then removed from the bone and put in their own bag. The backs and breast bones where then bagged. Once the butching was complege we set up the vaccum sealer (an amazing investment) and made family size servings of parts. We have two kids and when they were little we would put 6 leggs in a bag before sealing. Perfect size for one meal. We would skin and bone about half of the theighs but the other half would be bagged and sealed like the legs sometimes mixed and matched with the legs. Wings had the tips removed and placed with the backs and breast bones and then bagged for use as appitizers for big games in that coming fall. Once all the breast meat was sealed in the same monor all the bones and backs were placed in roasting pans and baked. Once they were well cooked the meat would fall off the bones as we picked it off. We would then prepare for the freezer quart containers of the broth and chicken that came out of the oven. Perfect for noodles or soups and sauces. My favorite part was the giblits for dinner the next day. Chicken hearts really are a yummy meal. So glad that you had a great expirence with this. I wish more poultry people could understand that poultry raised for this purpose and well cared for are lucky to have such good lives. If you have ever seen a factory farm for fryers and roasters you know what I mean. These chickens had a good life and are helping this young family to grow and thrive.

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