Getting Started With Meat Chickens
Cornish Cross Meat Chicken Supply ListIf you're considering trying meat chickens then this post is for you! I typically purchase organic meat only for my family and the price of one, maybe 5lb whole organic chicken, is usually easily $20 at our local grocery store. As we grow our family it's going to be harder and harder to try and make that work on our limited one-income budget, so I decided to raise my own organic meat chickens. I've raised 2 batches of Cornish Cross meat chickens now, and here is what I recommend you have in place BEFORE you order those cute little chicks.
Basic Meat Chicken Supplies:
- Heat Lamp & Bulbs
- Hydro-Hen 3-in-1
- DIY Chick Brooder or Store-Bought Brooder. These guys grow unbelievably fast, so you may need more than one. Remember you have to fit their food and water in there too! I recommend 1 sqft per 2 chicks as they'll likely be in there for about the first 3 weeks.
- Pine Shavings or Straw for bedding.
- 10lb Hanging Poultry Feeder per 8-10 chicks.
- One Gallon Poultry Drinker per 8-10 chicks. The chicks may drown if you use a bowl.
- Clothesline & Snap Links. One link for each water and feed container. You will use these to hang their food and water from the ceiling. I HIGHLY recommend doing this, even in the brooder.
- A Few Dollar Store Items: Rubber gloves, trash bags (unless you plan on composting the waste), shower squeegee, dustpan, sponge, dish soap, and a small bin to hold it all. I use the squeegee and dustpan to scrape off and pick up the chicken waste and bedding from the brooder.
- 5-Gallon Bucket With Lid, very useful for transporting waste to your compost pile or as a trash can for waste.
- Chicken Coop Complete With A Fenced-In Chicken Yard. The top of the yard should be covered so hawks can't get in. Also, make sure the coop is built with floor to ceiling sturdy wood. A window or two for ventilation is recommended but line them with chicken wire. Reinforce any potentially week spots in the coop with chicken wire and you may want to even put some under the coop. A raccoon ate through our wood door and got to a chicken... Finally, always remember to lock them up in the coop at night.
- Brooder/Coop Perch. If you don't provide something for them to perch on, they'll perch on their food and water and it will get very dirty, very quickly.
- Chick Starter/Grower Crumbles. Be sure to reference a feeding chart so you don't end up overfeeding them and take away their food for 12 hours at night. They might end up having heart attacks before you can process them if you don't. HERE is a great feeding cart from Welp.
- Rake, Gardening Hoe, & Wheelberrel for cleaning out the outdoor coop and chicken yard.
Check out our chicken coop, chicken yard, and chicken brooder:
If you're planning on dispatching & processing them yourself, you'll want to consider these items as well:
- Chicken Plucking Machine. I definitely recommend getting something to help you pluck. You could probably do a few by hand but it's pretty tedious and time-consuming.
- Poultry Evisceration Knife Or Boning Knife. I found a great one online for about $10 at Blain's Farm & Fleet.
- Heavy Duty Shears for cutting joints and bones if needed.
- Turkey Deep Fryer Or Chicken Scalder.
- Poultry Restraining Cone Or Clothesline to hang chickens from.
- 5-Gallon Bucket With Lid if you don't already have one from the checklist above.
- Portable Plastic Folding Table.
- A Washing Station. We hook up a hose to a small utility sink with a bucket under it.
- Poultry Shrink Wrap Freezer Bags And Ties.
- A Pellet Gun for a more humane initial dispatch. Ideally, 750 FPS or more.
If you're interested in learning how to humanely dispatch & process them, check out my Poultry Evisceration How-To Guide. I'll be walking you through every step of the process with pictures.
Let me know in the comments if you'd like a post on any other aspects of raising meat chickens.
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