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chicks arrived--must be spring

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chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#1  Unread postby Rainey » Thu Mar 22, 2018 1:53 pm


Just picked up 8 new chicks this afternoon--2 leghorns, 4 golden comets and 2 black sex-links. When we first started with hens we went for the older dual purpose breeds often recommended for the homestead or backyard grower. But what we really want from them is eggs--rabbits seem so much easier to butcher and we don't have to pluck them ;) so last time we tried ones that are bred for laying. This time I feel more confident raising them more naturally. Last time I tried to make a brooder box as described in Raising Rabbits and Poultry on Scraps but maybe I didn't understand or do it right, had to make quite a few changes. Got the hint from Maggie to put in a plastic jug full of hot water and hung with fleece scraps. Put in a branch for climbing and a pan with turf and soil and grit for them to scratch and peck in. Have a plan for an outdoor coop with compost pile and movable run that my son will build before they are ready to move out in 3 or 4 weeks (he's hoping the snow will go and it won't be too muddy so he can bring in a few logs to the mill to get the lumber he'll need)
Other signs of spring here--lots of seedlings up in the greenhouse, have made 7 gallons of syrup and the sap is running this afternoon, saw bluebirds and put out houses for them this week, hearing the red-winged blackbirds when we get out to walk.

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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#2  Unread postby Zass » Thu Mar 22, 2018 3:45 pm


Whew, it sounds like you're keeping busy!
Starting the coop by milling the logs :shock: That's some serious homesteading.

When I do chickens, I usually skin them to speed up the process.
I really really need to learn how to pluck the squabs without breaking their skin, as they have so much lovely fat underneath.

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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#3  Unread postby akane » Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:02 pm


I always skin chickens so it takes next to no time but I don't like the skin anyway. I'm usually trying to find ways to reduce how fatty chicken often is. So much better from a true free ranging dual purpose breed than buying broilers from anywhere. I'll think some type of seasoned chicken breast from the store looks good but then I find it's flavorless, greasy meat so I quit trying to find fresh chicken in even the specialty markets.
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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Zass » Thu Mar 22, 2018 4:23 pm


I prefer the leaner, free ranged backyard chickens too, and not the fatty meat birds. So, preserving fat under the skin is a bit of a moot point for those. I agree they have tons more flavor.
The squabs however, are intended to be a fatty treat for us; a break from the lean rabbit, quail, and venison we usually have.

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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#5  Unread postby Rainey » Thu Mar 22, 2018 5:28 pm


Zass wrote:Whew, it sounds like you're keeping busy!
Starting the coop by milling the logs :shock: That's some serious homesteading.
.

This will be a really small project compared to other things we've built but we don't have the lumber we want for it. The loft of the sawmill barn is stacked with hardwoods that we use or sell. And we're not exactly a homestead because the farm when we came was a charitable disorganization which is now a non-profit corporation. The sawmill provides lumber to use here and selling some supports the other things we're doing. Lots of work but very satisfying and allows us to share what we produce and what we've learned.
Really appreciate all the help we've gotten here on RT with the rabbits :)

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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#6  Unread postby guardianoasis » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:45 pm


There are so many chicks at the local Tractor Supply I have to resist every time I go in there to get rabbit feed. It's so hard! :chicken:

SO and I have decided we are going to get chickens but I worry about getting them and then not having a place set up in time for them when they get bigger. So I've been trying to be good and hold off but it's really hard. I've been doing a lot of looking online for ideas for a movable chicken hutch that isn't one of those cheap things that may fall apart in a couple years. We rent pasture from a friend of mine and I can put them there, but anything I put there I want to take with us when we buy a place and move everything to the property. I'm thinking I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and buy one from Tractor Supply and then reconsider the option of building one to my liking after the property is purchased.

Zass wrote:When I do chickens, I usually skin them to speed up the process.


I've wanted to learn how to do this. Anytime I look up processing chicken it always shows the plucking. I'm sure some of my chickens will end up plucked. The SO likes to barbeque and likes the crunchy skin on his but I tend to like them skinless. I want to learn to skin and dry it so that I can sell the capes and saddles of bird feathers too. Although everytime I try to do a google search for fly tying chickens or how to dry the skins it seems like a pretty hush hush process. I'll figure it out. I'm stubborn like that :twisted:
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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#7  Unread postby Zass » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:15 pm


Skinning is just like skinning any other animal really. Just be careful not to damage the crop.
Drying bird skin is as simple as scraping fat off and covering it in borax while it dries. That method is sufficient to sell to crafters and those who tie flies.
There are some tanning products designed to turn it into to leather, if you wanted supple skins.

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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#8  Unread postby Preitler » Sat Mar 24, 2018 3:55 am


A lady I bought a rabbit from once told me she uses compressed air to skin chicken, sticking the nozzle under the skin at the neck, hold the neck closed and blow the skin up like a balloon. Never tried that, the few chickens I butchered got plucked, but it sounds like a realy fast and easy method 8-)
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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#9  Unread postby akane » Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:00 am


Skinning chicken is easy. It's just a different shape from a rabbit and I never even had to tie up the chickens or brace them to pull the skin off. My hands cramp and get tired trying to hold with one and pull skin off with the other when doing rabbits without something to hang them from. I don't ever remember that issue with chicken skinning. It's probably the only good thing about butchering poultry versus mammals. Snip, pull, done. I saw some vids where people skinned chicken and quail just by standing on the wings and pulling the feet to remove not just the skin but often some of the intestines with it. Getting compressed air out seems like a lot of extra effort for something that normally doesn't take any.
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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#10  Unread postby Rainey » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:09 am


I have a confession to make. I like rabbit and have found recipes that work for us but at first the challenging thing was that people said it was "like chicken" but I found that the meat dried out if it wasn't basted or covered with something. And we really like chicken skin--all crispy with herbs baked on. The other meat we raise is pork and I render lard and we cook with it. I know fat is supposed to be terrible but I wonder if that is mostly about the kind of work people do now. My grandparents raised their own chickens and ate them with the skin, raised their own pork and beef, had a cow so ate lots of cream and butter and lived to 94 and 92 years old, quite alert and active until very near the end. But they worked with their hands, often outdoors. I know my tall lean son eats more when he's working outside in winter--and those coldest days are pork roast days.
So here's to healthy eating and healthy work--whatever that is for each of us.

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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#11  Unread postby AmberRae » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:33 am


We finally broke down and bought a yardbird plucker for our meat chickens. It was worth ever penny. It makes processing chickens bearable.

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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#12  Unread postby Ghost » Sat Mar 24, 2018 8:58 am


akane wrote:I always skin chickens so it takes next to no time but I don't like the skin anyway. I'm usually trying to find ways to reduce how fatty chicken often is. So much better from a true free ranging dual purpose breed than buying broilers from anywhere. I'll think some type of seasoned chicken breast from the store looks good but then I find it's flavorless, greasy meat so I quit trying to find fresh chicken in even the specialty markets.


Yeah, like you not into eating the skin of bird or cuy. I've never done birds, but I almost had an opportunity to process some guinea fowl. (Long story short) the person that was super annoyed with the sound of loud birds would kill then then I would process, deal fell through due to her boy friend.

Watching chicken skinning tutorials on-line did not look that hard.
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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#13  Unread postby guardianoasis » Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:31 am


Rainey wrote:I have a confession to make. I like rabbit and have found recipes that work for us but at first the challenging thing was that people said it was "like chicken" but I found that the meat dried out if it wasn't basted or covered with something. And we really like chicken skin--all crispy with herbs baked on. The other meat we raise is pork and I render lard and we cook with it. I know fat is supposed to be terrible but I wonder if that is mostly about the kind of work people do now. My grandparents raised their own chickens and ate them with the skin, raised their own pork and beef, had a cow so ate lots of cream and butter and lived to 94 and 92 years old, quite alert and active until very near the end. But they worked with their hands, often outdoors. I know my tall lean son eats more when he's working outside in winter--and those coldest days are pork roast days.
So here's to healthy eating and healthy work--whatever that is for each of us.


I personally don't feel that eating fat or fatty foods is necessarily a bad thing, within moderation. My family buys butter only, we won't buy margarine. I haven't used lard for cooking but I've been thinking about it. My grandmother used to use the Crisco shortening back when I was little but always complained that she wished she could find pig lard. I can't eat pork, the texture of the meat messes with my system for some reason. I've tried it a few dozen ways. Although my family likes it so we may still try to get a couple smaller pigs, I dunno. We've been working on removing all the "stuff" from our lives and making it easier to understand whats in our foods. 2 ingredients is way better then 24 with most of them I can't pronounce. If there is corn in oil, I'd rather eat it in the corn, not in highly concentrated form with a bunch of preservatives. :lol:
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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Zass » Sun Mar 25, 2018 11:58 am


I used to hear the air compressor thing about rabbits, but I've never seen anyone do it?

I firmly believe fats can be very healthy, and are unquestionably a necessary part of the diet.
I actually sought out and processed free range pigs these last couple years, so that I could have access to one of the best natural sources of vitamin D there is in winter. 8-)

With my own metabolism, at least, I seem to be able to eat all the fat I want; it's sugar that will put weight on me if I'm not careful.

The chicken plucker got me thinking.. I wonder if the smaller, cheapo pluckers would work for quail and pigeons? Their delicate skin makes me hesitant to put them in a truly efficient chicken plucker.
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Re: chicks arrived--must be spring

Post Number:#15  Unread postby Rainey » Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:42 pm


Chicks are a week old today. For the first time last night they went into their warm box with out my having to shoo them in. Had sun for their first few days but has gone cloudy so they spend some time under the fleece I hang around their plastic jug of hot water (thanks to Maggie for that idea). But they grow so fast and keep busy scratching and trying to get to the top of the branch I put in their box. Yesterday hung a greens feeder (thanks Michael for pointing out the importance of greens) and they emptied it by the time I checked it this morning even though they seemed to leave the chopped greens I mixed into the feed I mix for them. Put in some more chard and kale and they were all over it.
Building their outdoor coop will have to wait a bit because the sugar house burned down Monday when we were boiling down a batch of sap. Zach has brought out logs, sawed lumber, set posts and is rebuilding that, hoping to get something up in time to do another batch now that the sap is running. Then he'll get to a coop for the chicks--they shouldn't go out for a couple more weeks anyway.
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greens for us and critters, seedlings just started
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pan with turf and bones to peck, branch for climbing
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one week old, eating chard and kale
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a week ago, day old chicks just arrived
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