When to butcher broilers

Dark Cornish cockerelIf
we were raising
, our eight
week old cockerels would be just about ready for slaughter. 
Instead, our Dark Cornish broilers are starting to get heavy (and we
even heard one crow!) but are still at least a month away from

Actually, I’m not quite
sure when we should plan to eat them — some folks seem to butcher
their Dark Cornish cockerels at 12 weeks for a small bird, while others
keep them growing until 20 weeks.  Unless someone chimes in with
their own experiences, we’ll probably slaughter our birds in three
stages to see how weight and taste varies between 12 week, 16 week, and
20 week old birds.

So far, we’ve spent
about $2 per chick on feed and the same again on buying the chicks,
proving everyone right that it’s not really cost effective to raise
slow breed chickens as broilers compared to buying commercial meat at
the grocery store.  Large scale production of organic Cornish
crosses ranges from $5 to $6 per bird raised to slaughter age — ours
aren’t quite organic since we didn’t pony up the extra money for
organic feed, but I figure the bugs they eat makes them about as
healthy for us as commerical organic chickens.  I’ll let you know
the final cost per bird, weight, and taste test results when the time

Of course, our costs
would go way down if we managed to get a breeding pair and raise our
own chicks in later years.  We still can’t tell if any females
slipped in amid the males, but if our broilers are as tasty as they
look, we’ll work toward having a self-sustaining flock.

Our broilers stay healthy due
to copious clean water from our
homemade chicken

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