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Chickens For Meat? - Cost/Breed/Feed?

Posted: Thu May 22, 2008 9:02 am
by Ireland-or-bust
Hi all,

I'm hopnig to get my chicken meat from my own supply.

Now, here are the questions...

1. I have Light Sussex and Dorkings, Are they fast enough growers?
They are certianly fat enough...

2. How long will a L.S. take to get to an eating weight?

3. How much food will it take to get it there?

I would like to get broilers, but they have to be bought and that to me is not sustainable at all.

I have all the gear/space etc etc i just need a bit of info from someone who has DONE IT already. I have an 80 egg incubator and barn space for 3 times that in hens.

I am getting a horrible feeling that the feed is going to cost more than the chicken in the super market. It doesn't matter that it's nicer.
The electric company doesn't accept niceness cheques.


Posted: Fri May 23, 2008 12:27 pm
by Birdie Wife
I have Dorkings and Barred Rocks to cross for meat. Pure breeds will mature much later than commercial broiler chicks - they are bred for longevity, whereas broilers are bred for fast weight gain. Your pure breeds might mature in the 6 - 9 month bracket, broiler chicks probably about 2 months free range. If you want to raise meat chickens then I'd argue you're still better off getting broiler chicks and feeding them up, because the economics still stack up even though you are buying in chicks rather than raising your own. They will eat less food and put on more weight faster than the pure breeds. They will also sit around doing not very much at all, whereas your pure breed chicks will be up and about doing chickeny things very quickly!

I'm afraid to say you'll never be able to raise chickens for meat at the same price as the supermarkets, unless you're talking about the free range organic ones. I haven't costed it out for myself (too afraid!) but I think generally it's about £8-15 per bird. There are ways of keeping the costs down - for example, confining your meat chicks to a small run (with enough room to have a stretch and wander but not be running about), the energy they save in not running around equals extra meat on the bones.

Hope that hasn't put too much of a dampener on your plans, most people don't keep chickens for meat because it's cheaper to do so, but because they are wanting to take responsibility for where some of their meat comes from and ensure that it has had a happy life before dispatch - for me personally, it's all part of the process of respecting the animal that is ultimately going to be a wonderful, tasty and guilt-free meal for you and your family.


Posted: Fri May 23, 2008 6:58 pm
by Ireland-or-bust

Thanks for the help.

I have done some maths on how much it will cost but my main question
i had no answer for was, How long...

6-9 months is far too long. I am not in it for the fuzzy feeling or to save the world. I just want cheaper food.
I have 50 eggs in the incubator as i type.
I think i might as well turn it off and sling them as i really only wanted thme for meat.

As i said before buying broilers is not sustainable and they won't always be available. So i really needed to rear my own.

I've even managed to get me heating costs to almost zero.
The local petting farm takes my chicks, heats them for me while the kids
get to stroke them, then i get them back. Which is a good saving.

It's just the feed that's the killer these days and it will only get worse.

Thanks anyway.


Posted: Fri May 23, 2008 7:16 pm
by CaundleMama
how much chicken do you need to eat tho? if you went for 20? isnt that going to cut costs?
Am tentatively dipping a toe myself so its interesting reading,we have been eating other folks cockerals :lol: but am one of mne went broody so have stuck 2 eggs from a pal under & will see what happens,if hens we get eggs & eat when stops laying,if cockeral we eat when its old/young enough.
Am probably deliciously niave in my thinking at this stage :lol: Its the taking responsability for it thats firing me.
We pay £12~£15 for a bird from the local farm,we have one a month.

The Poor, have you met the poor?

Posted: Fri May 23, 2008 9:13 pm
by Ireland-or-bust

Well we eat about 2 chickens a week give or take.
We rarely eat red meat except from out own lambs who live in the freezer.

So we were looking at raising around 75 or so chickens for meat per year. I have the facilities to do that in batches of 50 quite easily.

We currently pay 5.99 euro, in Lidl for 4 chicken breasts.
Which for cokking are handy. But the chicken is frozen and from god knows where. Its the single most expensive part of our food bill so
would be nice to remove/reduce it. I'm affraid farm bought chicken is way beyond our budget these days (since we were struck down with a bad case of "poor.")

So in short we spend 450 euro which is about 350 pounds give or take per year on chicken. So i guess i need to know if i could hatch,feed,raise and eat 75 chickens for that price.

Good news on the cockerels, i got 8 for free the other day from a breeder.
Only a few weeks from the pot too.


Posted: Sat May 24, 2008 7:52 am
by CaundleMama
***So in short we spend 450 euro which is about 350 pounds give or take per year on chicken. So i guess i need to know if i could hatch,feed,raise and eat 75 chickens for that price. ***
ah I see how you have worked it out :wink: working out an annual spend on anything is a good excercise to show where moneys going.Good luck with your venture :flower:

Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 8:05 am
by Sky
Here's a link about chicken as meat birds.

Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 8:12 am
by CaundleMama
hmmm its uncomfy looking at the ones with leg problems,even tho they appear to have nice outside access,its obviously trying to get them to a weight that causes it :? think I would prefer to eat less *meaty* birds,the cockeral certainly have a different spread of meat cmpared to a regular free range one,its eyeopening here as we are lucky enough to have countless farms & farmshops,my favourite one is Longburton Farm in Dorset now their chickens are long & small breasted,worlds away from a supermarket one,theres another farm shop called Udder Farm which is much more glossy(lots of local produce but you pay a premium for the nice shop etc)now their free range & organic birds are much wider,more meaty.Te Longburton ones taste better as well.

Re: The Poor, have you met the poor?

Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 8:17 am
by ina
Ireland-or-bust wrote:Hi,
So we were looking at raising around 75 or so chickens for meat per year.

We currently pay 5.99 euro, in Lidl for 4 chicken breasts.
Don't forget that you get a lot more from a whole chicken than from chicken breasts... You can use the carcass for stock, too - so really, you should get the base for three meals out of each chicken.

I know it's not ideal chicken feed - but can you get free stale bread somewhere, that would otherwise only be chucked out? It doesn't replace all feed, but might supplement it.

Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 8:19 am
by Sky
The advice on the site is to limit their feed though to reduce leg problems which would make sense and also save money.

Posted: Sun May 25, 2008 7:44 pm
by red
i did the maths onceand discovered it is actually cheaper to buy a whole chicken, cut off the breasts and throw the rest away :roll:
yes really...

and you dont have to throw the rest away - instead you can easily get another meal + soup/stew out of the rest.

Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 8:23 pm
by Thurston Garden
We reared a dozen and a half Sassos last year using a borrowed incubator and a heat lamp. The first attempt failed - there must have been an infection on the shell. So we wasted £23 on fertile hatching eggs and 3 weeks of leccy on the incubator.

Determined to try again we bought a dozen Sasso eggs from a different source. Half of them hatched. Another £20 odd quid for eggs and another 3 weeks leccy for the incubator followed by a bag of chick crumbs at a tenner and the heat lamp on them for 10 weeks - more leccy!


Then onto two bags of growers pellets at £8 a bag. (Layers pellets were £5.50 at that time). I had to make a new pen and broody box too). This got us six table ready birds of between 5 and 6lb each.They took 18 to 20 weeks to get to that weight but that's a meat breed. No leg problems and they look handsome birds too!

We were then offered the parent quartet for £35. A bargain we thought given that we could sell surplus eggs at a pound a time. It cost £65 in diesel to go and get them and another new run had to be made.

We put 24 eggs in the incubator and 13 hatched. 7 cockerels and 6 hens. Another 3 weeks leccy for the incubator and 5 weeks under the heat lamp. £20 of chick crumbs and £32 of growers pellets. Inn addition we feed the parents breeders pellets which cost more than layers pellets do.

The final cost was £20 to post back the incubator. Did it make financial sense? No way. Is the meat good? Fantastic. Would we do them under electric again - not if we can help it! We have 11 Sasso eggs under a broody Black Rock atm - this negates the leccy cost. Chick crumbs, growers pellets and breeders pellets have increased by about 30% since last year. I intend to be able to recoup some of the cost by selling Sasso eggs (to Red!) after I see what the hatch is like on 16th June.


Cheap chicken? Don't think so. Enjoyable? Addictive? Good meat? Absolutely!

Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 8:54 pm
by red
yay! just need to wait until our hen goes broody again...

Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 8:56 pm
by Thurston Garden
Red - all being well, these Sasso's should hatch on the same day the Berkshire Trio get dispatched :shock:

(Don't count them though......)

Posted: Tue May 27, 2008 8:57 pm
by red
our chicks are.. erm.. bout 7 weeks old.. and look like small hens.. they are dunno breed.. sposed to be marans but one is gold/brown! but we were given the eggs for free so not complaining. The only special food we bought was one bag of chick crumb.. now they are eating layers pellets along with the others cos we cant be doing with a separate run. it means they will take longer to grow.. but thats ok.