Soon To Be Chickens For Dinner – 9 Week Update

If you’re new to these pages, the short story is that I’m raising chickens to eat.  We call them “meat birds” as opposed to “laying hens” which we also keep for the eggs.

I’ve now had my chickens for roughly 9 weeks.   Since I didn’t get the hyper-genetically-engineered-bowling-balls-with-feathers also known as Jumbo X Rocks, my Red Rangers and Pioneers will take a few more weeks before they’re ready to slaughter.   They’re growing quickly though, with the Red Rangers seeming much larger than the Pioneers.  I think I also have at least one hen of each type, which I may keep for laying eggs, although one of the hens seems to have another Chicken Problem – impacted crop.  The crop is an area that stores the food that the chicken eats until it progresses further downstream in the digestive track.

Sometimes the crop can get clogged up, especially by long grasses, and guess what – my chickens live in grass, so I’m not exactly shocked.  I noticed that one of my chickens had what looked like a giant tumor on her right breast.   I’m not sure if you can see it in this picture, but it turns out this is a classic case of impacted crop:

chicken with impacted crop - note the big lump

chicken with impacted crop – note the big lump

I managed to pluck her out of the chicken tractor, and I held her like a running back holding a football:

ray_rice

while tilting her head at a downward angle and massaging the crop which felt like a water balloon.   A mush that looked like oatmeal began to flow out of her beak onto the ground.  I paused to let her breathe, and then resumed the tilting.  I think I held it a little too long this time – the chicken can’t breathe while this is happening – and she shook her head as the “chicken puke” was coming out, resulting in an 8am chicken-puke-dousing for me.

Upon returning to the chicken tractor this chicken was slightly dazed at first, but quickly resumed foraging for greens.   I’ll keep an eye on her and maybe try this treatment again tomorrow.

Another interesting observation about my chickens is the pecking order: they seem insistent on enforcing it at all times: when I grab a chicken from the tractor and return it, the bully chickens immediately go over and peck it, as if to say “look, fucko – I’m the boss” – like everyone needs a reminder.

For the data-centric out there: my chickens have now eaten a total of 250lbs of food in roughly 9 weeks.  I have 14 meat birds, plus one mini “rare-breed” chicken.    Then there was the deceased Jimmy Legs.  But basically we’re talking about 4lbs of food per day (in addition to all of the grass/clover they pluck), which is about 4oz of food per chicken per day.  I’m not sure how much they weigh, but I’d guess that I have 8 chickens in the 6lb range, and 6 more in the 4-5lb range.

Here’s a picture of the ground under the chicken tractor after I moved it this morning – this is a look at 2 days of chicken crap – the clean green grass bars are from the cross-supports on my chicken tractor:

poop

poop

And of course, here’s a picture of the chickens themselves:

yum yum

yum yum

 

I think that some of my chickens (they’re almost all roosters) are starting to learn to crow.  Once that happens, their demise will be hastened greatly…

stay tuned.

-KD

 

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