Meat bird harvest time

It is hard to believe but the teensy Cornish Cross chicks we brought home May 16 are already ready to harvest.

These birds grew so amazingly fast, putting on weight almost before our eyes.

May 16
June 2
June 23

At 7 weeks old, the males are coming out at 6-8.5 pounds dressed; females at 5-6 pounds. That’s heavier than even any Pekin ducks we’ve harvested!

We started the chickens inside one of our coops then moved them out into a chicken tractor we built so they could forage some and deposit their profuse droppings over new ground each day.

It got too hot in the tractor though and we had to move them back into a shaded run for their final week and a half. If we do meat birds again we need to try to find a more shaded spot in the yard for the tractor.

Josh made us a simple but effective harvesting station that we set up in the yard when it’s time to do the deed. It’s pretty hot and we have a lot going on so we’ve been trying to do 5-6 birds/evening instead of pushing through all of them in a day or two. So far we’ve had help from two of my stepsons and our neighbor Rita. It takes a village to fill the freezer!

Josh showed Rita how to eviscerate a bird then she gave it a try

We put the birds in clean basins and refrigerate them overnight. Then I bag and weigh them before sending them off to the freezer. I usually use our vacuum sealer but some of these chickens are too big for the bags so I had to just use giant freezer bags and suck out as much air as I could. Our biggest bird so far weighed in at 8.25 pounds. I told Josh maybe we should have a couple huge chickens for thanksgiving this year. They almost look like small turkeys!

We raised these birds to stock up our own freezer but are considering doing another batch in the fall to sell. Let me know if you’d be interested!

One thought on “Meat bird harvest time

  1. Pingback: Making Duck Sausage | Phillips Farm Batavia, LLC

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