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Chicken finale

I travelled to Abrams Village two days ago to help finish processing the last ten chickens for the summer. It was another hot afternoon of work, and I’m glad that it’s over for the year. I finally took some time this afternoon and go through all the receipts so I could post my conclusions on raising chickens. In short, I’m happy to announce that it most definitely is :)

Chicken Info

Average Dressed Weight: 4.8 lbs
Price/lb at Farmer’s Market: $4
Average Chicken Value: $19.20
Total Chicken Value: $691.20

Non-Capital Costs

This is the list of things you would have to buy every year to raise the chickens. I’ve rounded all the costs to the nearest $5 just to keep things simple.

Chickens: $50
Food: $125
Brooder Lights: $20
Wood Shavings: $25
Total Non-Capital Costs: $220

Non-Capital Profit: $480
Per Chicken: $13.33

My initial hand-wavy calculations were around $10/chicken.. we’ll see how this compares to the next set of numbers

Total Costs

In the case where you only raise chickens for one summer and then sell / give away / lose the equipment, is it still worth it? I believe so

Non-Capital Costs: $220
Pen*: $175
Equipment: $130
Total Costs: $525

Profit: $175
Per Chicken: $4.86

*Almost half of the price of the pen came from the roof. There are definitely ways to reduce costs here by visiting a scrapyard (as long as you have a truck). Also, getting scrap lumber would save another 25-30%.

Conclusions

Even if you only do this for one summer, it is still worth it to raise your own food. With a bit of time and effort, you can scrounge materials and equipment throughout the winter or previous fall and really cut down on the expenses.

In terms of doing this for profit, things get a bit trickier here. Certainly it can provide some added income for the summer on a slightly larger scale: raising 300 chickens could net around $2700 and you can easily fit three batches in one summer.

The tough part comes at the end for slaughtering; it is definitely time-consuming to learn and until you and a few other people become skilled, it will kill your hourly rate. I think it would be an ideal thing for several families to get together each year to help raise and process food for the winter; it would certainly be cheaper than buying a similarly grown product, and the satisfaction of knowing exactly where your food comes from is priceless.

And then there were thirty-four

I had been wondering about this for a little while, and then recently it became quite obvious – one of these is definitely not like the other.

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He was up to 8 lbs, far beyond the 6 lbs I was hoping for and his legs were reaching the limits of what they could support. I think he could take about ten to fifteen steps before needing to rest.

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We experimented with heating the water for the “scalder” (stock pot) outside, but after twenty-something minutes there was no noticeable difference so we just used the stove to heat it.

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He was not nearly as complacent as the small hen we did a while ago – and the neck was much tougher to cut through. I am really looking forward to receiving the cones; will make life easier.

Turned in at a respectable 4 lbs 14 oz, with the breasts an even 1 lb in the end. I’m wondering why people don’t just raise roosters instead? The meat tastes the same to me….

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The bumbling brewmaster

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  • Pour 4l of hot water into the bucket
  • Add contents of can (malty goodness)
  • Fill with cold water up to 23L
  • When temperature is between 22-30C, add yeast and stir for 30 seconds.

However, this was written as a run-on paragraph, rather than the nice bullet points I’ve used. And so I added the yeast to the hot water/malt mixture. Eep!

I tried my best to get the remaining 23L in at to make the entire mixture the proper temperature but I am quite worried I killed the yeast at the start. Will know in a few days.

Again, in terms of economy, this cannot be beat. One mixture will make 66 regular-sized bottles of beer, at a cost of around $.50/bottle.

Update: I talked to the people I bought the kit from and they said it will most likely be fine. I just need to check it tomorrow evening to see if the yeast is working, and if not, just toss another pack in Monday morning :)

Chickens start acting like chickens!

I'm happy to say that the chickens made it through their first night in the pen safe and sound. I went out around 3am to move them away from the side (they were sleeping right up against the netting), but luckily nothing had happened before then.

This morning I moved the pen (well, dragged..the wheels are definitely not working) to its new location, and they immediately started pecking for food. It was very rewarding to see :)

Chickens in their pastured poultry pen

Weekend update

Chickens

The biggest news is with the chickens – they are finally outside in their pen!!!

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It has been a real killer trying to get the pen finished. Had to cut the roofing by hand, trim off the edges, and re-staple a bunch of the wire. The problem has been that the bugs are back in full force, and I have been eaten alive every single time I go outside. It makes work very, very difficult.

The other big problem has been with the wheels. I was unable to figure out how to make a proper dolly as outlined in the book, and have been struggling to make wheels that could fold down and then stay in place. In the end, it’s still not working properly. I managed to get the pen over to a starting position (more headaches) and the birds are in. Hopefully I can get some help from the internet and/or friendly neighbours. It has been a chore.

Finally the birds are starting to show leg issues; they can all still walk but I’m getting quite worried that they are growing too quickly. All in all, it’s been a difficult week chicken-wise, and it’s a small victory to finally see them outside. We are looking at four days of rain, so I think my next task is to find someone I can buy hay from. Whew!

(Plenty of complaining, but a lot of it is my own fault. It is definitely worth the effort to know where your food is coming from. I just lack the handy-man skill that is useful at times likes these. Next summer will be much easier, I’m sure.)

Vegetables

The garden has started to grow and the tomatoes are taking to their new home quite nicely. I decided to take the row covers off for a few days to see what happens; we’re supposed to be getting rain and I think it might do them good. If it gets too heavy, I’ll put the covers back on.

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Wine

Last, but not least, the wine is mellowing away in the basement. It had to stand for three days and then go on its side (something to do with the cork). So far it looks like all the bottles were sealed properly and now it’s just a matter of time before the tasting.

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