Tomorrow is butchering day and I am beyond ready for these birds to go to freezer camp.
This has been one of the worst batches of chicks I've ever gotten, so on top of the 20% mortality rate among them, the feed/growth ratio was ridiculous. We went through an entire 2,000 lbs. of feed and the majority of the birds will dress out to only 3.5 - 4 lbs. Every year I tell myself that I am never going to raise broilers again, and every year I seem to forget when April roles around... But I'm going to be firm: no more broilers for this farm girl. Period. They are just not my cup of tea.
I love the changes they make to my pasture (really green, excellent growth), but I do not like the birds themselves! I have scars mapped over my hands and arms that do not come from years of the usual farm work (fencing, bucking hay, etc.) but rather from years of enduring broilers. I just got another beauty this afternoon as a broiler took a chunk out of my arm. Brainless, aggressive, stinky chickens. Grrr.
Now, part of these feelings is probably stemming from the fact that I charged too little for my birds (Again!), and thus I have nothing to look forward to tomorrow. It should be payday for these last eight weeks of nightmares and stress, but instead it's simply a day to work. I will be lucky if I break even.
A couple weeks ago, a friend asked me why I was scaling back on the farm (selling the majority of the rabbits, selling Poppet, not raising broilers anymore) if my goal in life was to be a farmer. Isn't the whole point of being a farmer to grow food? And chickens sell so well, why don't I keep on doing them?
As I said before, chickens are not my cup of tea. I have spent the last two years really honing in on what I like and what I don't like doing on the farm. What makes me tick, and what makes me groan at the thought of doing? I'm still learning, to be sure, but as I've soul searched my farming passions this is what I've found: Dairying is by far my favorite thing, and it is probably what I am most passionate about in life. I love milking, I love the dairy animals, I love all the challenges that come with it. Along with that, I like sheep, hogs (from what little experience I've had with them; this could change as the years go by!), laying hens, turkeys (again, I think!), and meat goats/beef cattle. I seem to like the larger animals, but with some birds thrown in for good measure. Rabbits are okay, but I won't cry if I never get big with them (I would need 50-100 does to make any money). I love the idea of gardening and running a veggie CSA, but I can hardly grow a weed, and the animals take up so much of my time that the garden always gets neglected. Broiler chickens are at the very bottom of this list. If there was one thing that I would choose to NOT do, it is broilers. But, darn me, I seem to suffer from short term memory loss every spring!!
So yes... I am ready for these birds to go. I'm picking up the equipment this evening, and plan on starting at 9AM tomorrow. I don't even get to keep any of these chickens, either! And here I was, hoping to get the last laugh with the birds!
Toodle pip and cheerio... I'll report back after tomorrow.