home grown meat

homegrown chickens

My baby chicks are not babies anymore! They are getting very close to harvest time. The rooster is the biggest of the bunch, as you might be able to tell from the photo. These four are what I have left from the six I started with. For some reason I ended up with two that didn’t make it. There was no sign of foul play (example: neighbor’s cat), so I can only assume they died of something natural, like a heart attack or something. That’s a hazard with this breed – they are bred for quick weight gain, which tends to cause heart attacks and systemic problems that the older varieties don’t have. I’m happy with four for now, because I’m planning to learn how to harvest them myself. (Starting small is good!) My parents-in-law are experts; they’ll be showing me how to do things.

Quick cost analysis: So far I’ve spent about $44 on the birds, which will be about $11 per bird. Considering organic pastured chicken bought whole tends to go for about $20 or more per bird, depending on weight, I think I’m doing alright. Once the birds are butchered and weighed, I will have a more accurate cost per pound.

Why am I growing chickens in my garden?

First, you need to know that I like to try new things. That’s just as big a reason as any kind of organic environmental cost-effective excuse I can give you. The “Oh Cool” factor is just as big if not bigger. Yes I’m cheap and yes I want to eat organic meat and yes the chickens are happier when given room and dirt to scratch in. But ultimately, I love to show people new and crazy things. So… here they are! Chickens in my backyard. Happy chickens eating bugs and scratching in the dirt.

Second, I’m an omnivore. I like my veggies, but I also like my meat. Without meat my body does not function well. (I won’t go into detail here.) So, in my kitchen garden where I grow food, I thought I’d grow meat as well as veggies. Meat is food. Let’s grow some.

Third: It saddens me to think that people today have such a disconnect between their food and where it comes from. I’m hoping to help educate whoever wants to learn more about where food comes from. I know not everyone can grow their own meat, but in my small part of the universe, perhaps people could come see my chickens and connect with what the meat looked like before it was a cold slab of flesh in their fridges.

Would you grow meat in your garden if you had the room?