We had the eight-week weigh in a couple weeks back, which was a good comparison for how we were doing at the ten-week mark. Next time, we'll track their weights through the whole cycle.
|Comparison of each chicken's weight at eight weeks, ten weeks, and dressed.|
We had about a quarter bag left of our seventh 40-lb bag of feed, which means these 17 chickens consumed about 270 lbs of feed in total. That works out to a feed conversion ratio of 3.09 for feed-to-final-live-weight and 4.67 for feed-to-dressed-weight. Not Cornish cross-type numbers, but decent.
The price per pound worked out to $7.05. (!!) Kind of spendy compared to commercial-scale organic whole chickens, but again, these aren't Cornish crosses. Plus, we get complimentary garden fertilizer in the deal. The pie chart below shows that by far the biggest expense is the (organic) feed, which at $34 per 40 lb bag adds up quickly. Heck, that's almost as expensive as the organic oats we eat for breakfast, and that's people food! Next round we'll experiment with buying feed in bulk or mixing, maybe even growing, our own grains. In any case, if you want to know why organic meat is so expensive, there you have it!
|Expenses associated with raising our fall chickens. Electricity is from the heat lamp we ran while the chicks were very young and on cold nights.|
|Fresh in the cooler!|
|Ooh, that looks good. Katie says, "No drooling on the camera!"|
*We discovered the hard way that the fence around our yard was not completely dog-proof, and lost six chickens in the melee, including the little gray one. Since the chickens were so close to butcher, we decided to see how badly damaged the meat was, and we were pleased to see that it was no more mangled than the meat we bring home on hunting trips. So, we decided to put the birds in the freezer. The warnings against eating the dog-killed meat are generally that 1. The dog's mouth might have bacteria or dirt or something that would contaminate the meat and 2. The chickens weren't properly killed and bled out, so the meat won't be as high-quality as it would have been. However, our take is that we'll be cleaning the carcass well and cooking it to well-done anyway, so bacteria and dirt don't worry us too much. Also, to return to the hunting analogy, game animals are rarely killed in the way that chickens are butchered (but rather much more like the dog-killed chickens, with puncture wounds and laying in the dirt), and we consider game meat to be of sufficiently high quality to earn freezer space. Plus, we met the dog and it seems healthy, other than an obsession with killing feathered things. So, we're comfortable putting those birds in the freezer and not wasting 35% of our chickens. If we were selling them, it would be a different story.
Have you raised red rangers before? How did your numbers compare to ours? How did you cut down on feed costs? Let us know in the comments section below!