Our fall batch of broiler chickens arrived 2 weeks ago.
Peepers! (Now you know why those marshmallow things are called what they’re called!)
We pasture raise 2 or 3 batches of broilers each year for ourselves and our customers. So far, we’ve only raised the Jumbo Cornish Cross breed of broiler, and have been satisfied with the results. They grow from chick to butchering size in 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the season and the quality of their feed.
The eggs are hatched and shipped the same day and the soon-to-be broilers usually arrive 2 days later at the Stedman post office. We get them into the brooder, which is a large box with a hover inside it that protects them from predators and provides the warmth they need until they feather out and can be put on the pastures. Usually they’re ready for the pasture at about 3 to 4 weeks of age.
On the pasture, we keep our chickens in a ‘tractor’, which protects them from predators and allows us to move them once or twice a day to graze grass, weeds and bugs that supplement their feed. We raise our broilers on organic, soy-free feed from Reedy Fork Farm. As with all of our animals or produce, we don’t use any chemicals or pesticides to raise them.
So, how big will they be when they’re ready for butchering? We usually aim to produce a fresh pastured broiler between 4 to 5 pounds, although occasionally we’ve have some that are closer to 7 pounds! Technically, I guess that would be called a roaster instead of a broiler.
That’s fine for us, as we really enjoy the flavor and tenderness of these pastured broilers and can easily use that much meat. Still, our customers generally prefer them to be about 4 pounds, which makes them ideal for a family meal and keeps the cost more affordable.
It has taken raising and processing a few batches of these pastured broilers to learn how to raise a fresh, tender chicken that is better than any store-bought, mass-produced chicken. Besides raising them correctly, there’s a real skill in processing them, chilling them and packaging them to retain a wonderful flavor and tender meat. We think we’ve mastered that skill and our last batch was the most tender, tasty and healthy pasture-raised broiler we could hope for.
These pastured broilers should be ready in early or mid-November. Let us know early if you want to purchase any. It will be the last opportunity for fresh broilers before next spring.