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Learn how to to make money on your homestead by raising meat chickens for profit with our tips and tricks for a productive and effective meat bird production on your hobby farm or homestead.
Here on our farm we’ve decided to focus solely on cattle and poultry for meat sources for our family. Eventually we might expand the animals we focus on, but until then we will learn to master a few things other than all at once.
In our first three years on our farm we have learned to provide our family with a years worth of chicken for next to nothing. Here are some of our cost effective tips to raising meat chickens for profit.
Remember when it comes to chickens there are two types of breeds essentially. Chicken breeds are either egg laying, or dual purpose meat breeds and these breeds can be heritage breeds or commercial breeds. Read about the advantages and disadvantages here if you are choosing which chickens to raise.
HOW TO RAISE MEAT CHICKENS
As a backyard chicken farmer, there are a few options for raising meat chickens. Whether raising meat chickens for your family or selling meat chickens for a profit the first thing you need to know is what type of chickens to raise for meat.
Chickens are raised as egg layers, or as meat birds. There are several varieties of chicken breeds. Some are great layers and some are solely raised for meat. There are also dual purpose egg layers that are great for both options.
When choosing to raise chickens for meat I suggest either dual purpose egg layers if you’re just looking for a small flock to feed your family.
I choose to raise dual purpose heritage breed chickens for eggs and as a meat source. Why? For a few reasons, I like the look and size of a heritage breed bird. They have beautiful plumage and feathers can be sold to crafters.
The young roosters make good chicken soup which is important to know because when buying chicks or hatching eggs you need a rooster plan in place as you’ll end up with more roosters than you need per hen.
When the hens are done laying they also make good stew chickens. You can send in your roosters and stew chickens for slaughter at the same time or slaughter them yourselves.
I like to hatch my own heritage dual purpose chickens every spring to rejuvenate my flock and sell to local chicken farmers.
Heritage dual purpose breeds include, Wyndottes, Orpington’s, Sussex etc. My favourites are Lavender Orpington’s, White Sussex and Splash Wyndottes. So not only are we provided with eggs from our hens but also a meat source.
RAISING MEAT CHICKENS FOR A PROFIT
You’re here because you want to raise meat chickens and you want to make some money raising meat chickens. Dual purpose breeds are great, I shared with you the perks above, but if your goal is to truly make a profit then you’ll need to raise the commercial Cobb 500 breed.
This is a big job that we’ve done annually on the farm and has provided us with a years worth of free roasting chickens. We are able to eat chicken for free annually because we are able to raise healthy large birds for the least amount of money.
Last year the chicken processor we use said we had the largest healthiest birds they had seen in a long time and asked what we did. I blushed at this and thought I should share with you here. Here are a number of ways that we raise healthy big birds for less.
BUY DAY OLD CHICKS FROM A WHOLESALER
Buy day old chicks from a wholesaler for far less per chick than the feed stores. Doing this saves about 20 cents less a bird than buying from the feed store.Do your research before ordering. You might need to pair up with neighbours for a better deal but it’s worth it.
BUY YOUR FEED WHOLESALE
Call all the feed stores in your area for their going rate on chick starter (medicated or unmedicated depending on your preference and grower.
It was cheaper for us to travel 2 hours to the wholesaler for the same bag of feed than to purchase it through our local fed store. Plus you make a day of it and claim the mileage on your taxes.
BUY FEED IN BULK
I’ve learned you can buy a months worth of feed for cheaper. Stores usually have a discount on a number of bags. Try to buy in those multiples ex. If there’s a discount on 10 bags- buy 20 not 17.
Don’t buy more than a months worth at a time because the protien component will break down and the less protein means the smaller the final bird. The healthier your birds the more will make it to the butcher alive.
FIND FREE BEDDING
Find free wood shavings. Bags of wood shavings are expensive. Purchase or find a free source from a local mill.
SCHEDULE YOUR PRODUCTION WISELY
In the first and final week of life for the birds before processing is usually when you lose the most birds. It’s preferable to lose the birds in the first week rather than the final because it costs far more to raise them and they don’t make it into the freezer.
Book your chickens to be processed at 7.5-8 weeks, and book as soon as you’ve ordered your chicks. Also, order your chicks at least months ahead of time.
RAISE YOUR MEAT BIRDS DURING THE BEST WEATHER
Be smart about when you choose to raise your birds, in the damp and cold of fall or early spring and the heat of the summer is a risky time. You want it to be easy to maintain a constant temperture even with your heat lamp.
SELL YOUR CHICKENS PRESALE
Sell your chickens ahead of time with a presale. It’s easier to charge customers for fresh meat birds that haven’t been sitting in a freezer -costing us hydro- for weeks or sometimes months.
HOST A PICK UP FARM SALE
Have fun with your pick ups and have a table ready to go at your farm and sell other items alongside the chickens. I sell my Apple Cranberry Chutney with my chickens because it’s so darn good with a roast chicken dinner. There ideas are to sell your excess garden produce or eggs.
DO SOME MORE RESEARCH
Research the going rate per pound that roasting chickens go for in your area. How many chickens do you need for the winter to feed your family? How many have you raised? And how many do you need to sell to cover your costs.
- Chickens in Your Backyard, Newly Revised and Updated
- Price: $11.99
- The Complete Idiot's Guide To Raising Chickens
- Price: $9.99
- Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, 4th Edition
- Price: $12.33
- Backyard Farming: Raising Chickens
- Price: $2.99
- A Kid's Guide to Keeping Chickens
- Price: $10.63
KEEP MEAT BIRD RECORDS
Record everything. Our first year we made a profit, but the next year we did better. With these tips, I hope it helps you out. Record it all in your farm journal as a reference for next year.
KEEP TRACK OF RECIEPTS
In order to make a profit from your meat birds, you'll need to follow all these tips and most importantly keep good records of profit and loss for a proper understanding of your profit margin.
I highly recommend Fresh Books for Homesteaders, life is already busy enough. Trying to keep track of receipts is not fun. Find out just how much profit you're making with Fresh Books.