Saturday, May 27, 2006
Today 290 day old chicks arrived. One hundred and twenty are staying here, the rest were ordered in for other local people who raise their own chickens. These are broiler chicks that grow rapidly and are ready for processing at anywhere from 6 - 8 weeks, depending on how big the final chicken is wanted. I like a chicken to be a decent size. Unfortunately these days, the fast food industry (read Fast Food Nation for a realy eye opener)dictates the size of commercial chickens which is why you don't see many large roasting chickens in the stores.
The chickens that we raise dress out at between 7 - 9 pounds. An experiment last year to try to raise some of these broilers ourselves led to really large birds. Because they are genetically bred to grow quickly, their cardiovascular systems are strained and they often die suddenly with heart attacks.
We tried keeping the adult birds for breeding. Two roosters and a dozen hens. The roosters seemed to fare well but the hens got stressed easily and didn't move around well, preferring to sit most of the day. They also died frequently til we were left with just 6 hens and the rooster. It was decided that they would go to the processer with the other regular broilers that we were sending. They were about 24 weeks old then. The roosters came back from the processor weighing 16 pounds each! They were like turkeys!!
I am still a wuss when it comes to parting company with the chickens. I go into their pens and say goodbye to them. The knowledge that they have lived a good life in clean, dry surroundings, with natural light, freedom of movement, activity, good food and clean water means that they have lived for a purpose. Initially I couldn't eat my own chickens, but now I've come to terms with the fact that they are what they are and serve a purpose.
I have worked more on the sketch started last night of Blizzard, the gosling, and myself in his favourite spot. He's a little too large to fit in there now even if he wanted to! The memories of it make me smile.
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