Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Meat chickens! We have 33 of them and it has been interesting this time around. Last time we had 12 SASSO chickens (SASSO is a french acronym) and after spending 4 weeks indoors under a heat lamp that was gradually reduced they went outdoors to free range. Well to my 3 black rock hens who are egg laying hybrids free range means going from the ark to the fields, up the lane, in the orchard and sitting annoyingly outside the patio doors waiting for a human to emerge who just might have an edible treat handy! In the course of a day they walk miles, eat lots and lay lots. The Sassos however walked about a maximum of 50ft if persuaded away from their hen house, sat around a lot and ate a huge quantity of food. They were killed at 12 weeks and weighed on average fact we only got 8 as far as the freezer due to a fox raid!
This time I bought some Hubbard chicks......another French breed and have 3 types, white, brown and grey. I ordered 20 and ended up with 33 (with an hours notice)......which caused a bit of a headache as the meat hen house will not accommodate that number!
However as they grew and GREW they went quickly from brooder to stable (10 x 9) with their heat lamp. Now they are 6 weeks and still indoors as the picture shows AND weigh.......between 2 and 2.8kg!!!!
They eat, drink and then sit down in little social groups..........they have natural light, sunshine streams in and I give them a rack of grass and cabbage leaves which they show interest in BUT they show no inclination to want to venture they are staying where they are! I have had a lot of worry about them not being totally free range but if they are happy so am I!They will be killed quietly at a tiny poultry abattoir down the road (so small its almost unknown, its behind a garden centre and is literally one man in one room) for the freezer in a couple of weeks time. I think they have had the best life possible, they are all bright, happy birds who enjoy human company.........I am going to keep 2 or 3 to join the laying hens as Hubbards do lay well apparently! interesting to see if they are prepared to walk as far!

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