Moving chicks to the brooder | Little Red Farmstead

Our First Meat Chickens

Over the weekend, Mike and I were talking and realized we have:
(1) an extra semi-portable chicken coop, and
(2) an already-fenced garden area we’re hoping to plant next year that needs to be tilled and fertilized.

Inspired by my friend Justin Rhodes from Abundant Permaculture, we decided to use our extra coop, get some more chickens, and put them to work in the garden-to-be!

Unpacking meat chicks from the feed store | Little Red Farmstead

We already have plenty of laying hens, so we decided to give meat birds a try. In the past, we chose rabbits over meat chickens for a protein source on our homestead, largely because we were more comfortable learning to process rabbits ourselves with only YouTube as a guide. (P.S. – Believe it or not, it has gone well for us!) However, I recently discovered a farm not far from ours that offers both poultry processing and farm classes (including DIY poultry processing) at very reasonable prices. I’m looking forward to having some in-person guidance to learn how to pluck and butcher a chicken.

Once we decided on meat birds, I called around and fortunately the local co-op still had Cornish Cross chicks available. (I have nothing against mail-order chicks, but wanted to save the money on shipping and support local businesses if possible.) We drove down and purchased 25 of them, but one didn’t survive the car ride home. (This seems to be a THING with us… always one that doesn’t make it.)

Dipping chick beaks into water | Little Red Farmstead

At the moment, the chicks are in a small brooder in the workshop and they seem to be adjusting well. We’re using our same good ol’ brooder box that’s served us well through our last two batches of chicks. For 24 chicks, it’s pretty undersized though. So tonight I’ll be working on cleaning out the extra stall in the barn to move them in there for a couple weeks. I’m hoping to get them outdoors as soon as possible if the weather cooperates. We had snow last weekend and only highs in the 50s and 60s this week, so I’m not terribly optimistic…

Moving chicks to the brooder | Little Red Farmstead

I’m hoping at least 20 make it to butchering size and if all goes well, maybe we’ll raise 50 or so next year. Wish us luck!

Amanda lives with her family on a little red farmstead in northwestern Pennsylvania. By day she's a web developer specializing in WordPress and in her off time she enjoys working with goats and other livestock on the farm, canning, knitting, and crocheting.