A Chicken in Every Pot - Adventures in Butchering


Butchering day dawns sunny and breezy.  The weather looks perfect.  But I’m asking myself, “what have we let ourselves in for?!”  Maybe you are like us and have started out on a few acres in the country.  You’ve mastered gardening, you’ve keep chickens for eggs, and perhaps you even have a few ruminants.  Now you’re wondering how hard it could be to raise and butcher your own broiler chickens.  Hopefully hearing about our adventures in broiler raising and butchering will spur you on to try it for yourself.


We decided on Freedom Ranger chickens when we started raising chickens for food.  They are active birds that reach their peak weight of 5-6 pounds in 10-11 weeks.  They are imminently suitable for free range, foraging and pasture environments which is how we wanted to raise them.  Our research showed that their meat has more yellow omega 3 fat and less saturated fat than faster growing breeds.

 First we needed to recruit partners since butchering seemed a bit overwhelming for our small family.  Along with our butchering buddies we determined that 30 chickens split between two families would work well.  We had the space to raise them on our farm, we split all associated costs between us, and our friends supplied a greater number of people for butcher day. 

Now we needed a place to raise the chickens.  Our winter sheep paddock (empty since spring) has a three sided shed in it that could be modified.  My husband built door panels that were basic wooden frames with chicken wire and cross braces over them to keep chicks in and predators out.  He encased the chicken wire between wooden laths so it couldn’t be pried off by raccoons.  The barn sits inside a 50’x50’ pasture surrounded by 5 foot wire fencing.  With heat lamps installed this building served well as a brooder for baby chicks, and then a night coop for growing broilers.  The chickens were let out on pasture to forage for bugs and vegetation during the daylight hours then put away safely each evening.


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