Pay the least when you process broilers young

Australorp PulletsFirst of all, I have to admit
that I was a bit over-optimistic with my previous assessment of our
Australorp broilers’ feed conversion rate
.  It only became
apparent a week after writing that post that ten of our thirteen
broilers were girls!  Since pullets are slower growing than
cockerels, I reanalyzed my data, taking the girls’ lower feed
consumption into account, and got a
conversion rate of 5
instead of 4.5 at 11.7
weeks.  This ratio is still excellent compared to anything except
Cornish Cross, so I’m not second-guessing our flock’s foraging

On the other hand, I was
disappointed to see that feed conversion rate increased markedly as I
Feed to meat ratio for chickens over timeslaughtered the rest of the
broilers over the next two and a half weeks.  For those of you
stumbling over the ratio, that means
I paid
more in feed costs for each ounce the chickens put on as they aged
.  Isn’t it interesting
how the Dark Cornish broilers from last year seemed to become less
efficient at the same rate as this year’s australorps, just ate more in
general?  Both types of chickens were probably on the downward
curve of the
growth rate graph

— no growth spurts going on here.

I plan to process the
rest of our broilers right at 12 weeks for the sake of economics, but
there are a few factors that might make you inclined to wait
longer.  Some sources report that older chickens impart a more
complex flavor to soup if you age the birds for up to five days in the
fridge then cook with moist heat (submerged in water or in a lidded
roaster with water in the bottom) at no more than 325 degrees
Fahrenheit or at a light simmer.  You might also choose to
slaughter your birds when they’re older if you spent a lot on
purchasing and brooding your chicks and want a bigger return on your
investment.  Finally, if you’re raising just a few chickens at a
time on a diversified homestead, you might be feeding the chickens
little or nothing in storebought feed, in which case every ounce the
birds put on is free.

chickens grow faster.  Our chicken
gets chicks off to a great start.

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