November 25th, 2014 by Ed Bruske
At long last, we butchered our 51 broilers and not a moment too soon. An early blast of winter threw a wrench into our production schedule. Yesterday morning we agonized over the weather reports. Outside it was raining, but the forecast called for clearing with some sun and temperatures soaring into the 60s.
My sister Linda raced up from Albany to help after spending a good part of the day here Sunday. By 3:30 we had the birds cleaned and bagged, just in time for clients to begin picking them up.
We’ve found that the Freedom Rangers don’t grow quite as large during the colder months, even after 12 weeks of heavy feeding on pasture. I imagine it’s because they’re using a lot of the calories from the grain we give them to maintain body heat, rather than adding more muscle mass.
All told, we finished with 244 pounds of chicken for sale. After giving two chickens to Linda, our gross sales were just under $800. More than half of that went to pay for the chicks and three months worth of feed. I don’t even want to think what our hourly wage works out to be dragging those chicken tractors around all that time, hauling water and feed. The entire operation is done by hand, from beginning to end.
If you wonder why small farmers have a tough time making a living any more–or why we are so heavily dosed with Ibuprofin–there’s a clue.
Here’s the good news: no more broilers until next year.