Broiler Chicken Schedule & February Goals

I made a list of things I need to accomplish this month.  I think I’m going to make a habit of setting goals every month instead of making one big list for the entire year.

Here’s what’s on the list this month:

  • Finish the newsletter and sent it to the printer
  • Order broiler chicks
  • Order shrink bags for chickens
  • Make seed starting schedule
  • Build seedling shelves
  • Research turkeys and try to order eggs or chicks

From where I stand our winter reprieve is over.  I’m feeling the pressure to get things organized and planned before spring comes and the physical work begins.  I HAVE to get this newsletter and order form put together this month.  The holdup there is that I can’t very well take orders unless I know what we’re offering and when.  That means figuring out the broilers, whether or not we’re offering turkeys, and the changes in packaging (if any).

I called JM Hatchery yesterday and placed my order for chicks.  I put in for 3 batches of 100 birds each.  We’ll get the first chicks around the end of March and have the last ones processed in early September.  The plan right now is to rotate them all through one brooder and two pasture setups.  They’ll stay in groups of 100 for their first couple weeks on pasture, then split in to two groups of 50 for their remaining time.  We’ll have to build a second cattle panel shelter and purchase more electric netting.  Here’s the schedule I’ve come up with:

Sorry I know it’s hard to read, if you can’t make it out and you’re interested let me know and I’ll get it to you in a better format.

I still need to figure out what we’re doing for turkeys.  I missed out last year on some half grown heritage turkeys.  We weren’t ready for them at that time but now I’m kicking myself.  I’m thinking I could hatch some out myself now that we have the incubator.  If I buy chicks I’d like to hold some back for breeding and not sell them all for eating.  I also considered buying some of the traditional broad breasted whites for selling this year and hoping to add heritage birds next year.  That could be a bad idea since the whites would be cheaper, customers might not go for the switch next year.  I’m still not sure – thoughts and opinions would be appreciated!  Also, I need to figure out the grow out periods on the heritage birds so I can plan ahead if I do buy some.

The seed starting plans have to be made soon… we aren’t selling any vegetables but we rely on the garden for so much of our own food now that I feel like I can’t relax until I have it all planned out.  Actually, last year we got most of our produce from gleaning other people’s gardens.  That makes me even more nervous because we might not have that option if we don’t have a great growing season.  I’m going to build some shelves to get the seedlings out of our closet this year.

So, things are pretty busy around here anyway!  On the plus side tonight is knit night at the yarn shop so I’m heading up there for good food and conversation.  I haven’t knitted much lately so I’m looking forward to making progress on some projects.  What’s taking up your time this spring?  Are you raising animals or planning your garden? Knitting? Fill me in! 🙂

A few notes I want to add after rereading this:  We’ll be processing the chickens at 10 and 12 weeks.  Those ages worked good for us last year and gave us some medium and large birds.  Also, if you want 3 different delivery dates through JM you have to make 3 different online orders or call them.  The shipping is more than it would be to order 300 all at once.  The nice part is that they don’t bill your credit/debit card until they ship.

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8 thoughts on “Broiler Chicken Schedule & February Goals

  1. Farmer's Daughter

    Ed’s family is going from heritage turkeys to broad-breasted whites this year. The reason is so they can raise turkeys and chickens, since the bbw turkeys will be ready sooner than the heritage, then they can get chickens for meat and use the same coop. Also, we weren’t thrilled with the meat in the heritage turkeys (I forgot what kind they are…) the breast meat was good but the dark meat was very tough, and his family’s all dark meat fans.

    Both our families are making maple syrup now. I’m headed over to take some pictures of tapping trees today. My dad also started some tomatoes and is hoping to have greenhouse tomatoes to sell at the farm market by June 1. I’m glad he’s doing it that way this year, so I’m going to take a year off of starting seeds (you know, with the baby coming and all!).

    I’m dreaming of ordering some more fruit trees, peaches, cherries, plums, nectarines, pears… but I think it’ll probably be just a dream. I may get a few peach trees, but we’ll add slowly over time.

    Otherwise, I’m just counting down the days until our little boy arrives! Officially 2 1/2 weeks to go!

    Reply
  2. Lynn Hayward

    Jena,
    This is a great blog. I read it everytime I see it. Keep the information coming and the good info. I will be watching and keeping up on your farm info. Love the blog.

    Lynn

    Reply
  3. Angie

    Hi Jena,

    Some of what I learned in farm class. 🙂

    Have you defined your market and your customer? That might help you with the determination on heritage breeds. The woman who spoke at our farm class raises chicken on pasture and she tried heritage birds but her customers didn’t like/want them. (www.margieschickens.com) But she sells to a very rural community that buys likes convenience type food. A survey might help you here.

    Do you read El’s blog (www.fastgrowtheweeds.com)? If you can tap into a market of folks like El (not her, as she raises her own) – but folks that are concerned with heritage breeds and local food – then a heritage breed could be a good way to go.

    Good luck! You are on your way – how fun!

    Reply
    1. marriedtothefarm Post author

      Thanks for the suggestions!
      We have not done an official survey. I may include one in this first newsletter now that we have a mailing list established. In general, our customers are a mix of older folks who want food like they remember as a kid and younger people who want to avoid antibiotics and hormones. The majority of them are farmers or have farming background (cash crops) so they are not looking for organic and don’t have a lot of the animal welfare concerns that may be present in metro areas. They just want good food from a place they can visit. So far no one has objected to our pricing (which I feel is low to fair) but there is a general undercurrent of financial hardship in our area and I don’t think they would pay the prices that farmers in other areas get. I think if given an outright choice, and the facts about each, our customers would probably go for the broad breasted whites. Brian and I discussed it and I think that’s what we’re going to do this year although I’d still like to experiment with the heritage birds. It is sometimes hard to match what we feel is best with what the customers want. At least we know the birds will have a pleasant life despite their artificial conception.

      Reply
  4. 1hickchick

    We are planning to raise the rangers this year for our own food supply. We heard they did better on pasture than other breeds. (That is- they are good faoragers) Do you find this to be true?
    Kris

    Reply
    1. marriedtothefarm Post author

      I really, really like the rangers. We have ours’ in a day range setup where they have access to a large area of pasture within an electric poultry net. With our setup I don’t think they consumed a lot of green matter or bugs, worms, etc. They did eat some of the grasses but I think most of the bugs left the area. So as far as actually foraging for part of their diet I don’t think they did much of that. However, they are very active. They are lively and healthy, gladly exploring the entire area and lounging in the grass. They don’t lie at the feeders lethargically and never leave the shelter like the Cornish crosses do. If you free ranged them over a larger area or barnyard I’m sure they would find some portion of feed on their own. Hope this helps, if you have any other questions let me know! 🙂

      Reply

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