Chapter 7: Modern Methods of Chicken Production
High Rate of Feed Conversions: This is an important factor when raising chickens especially
if they are to be used for meat. It is the amount or pounds of feed the chicken consumes
divided by its clean carcass. Most backyard flocks are not very high in feed conversions.
This means that they will very likely cost you more to get to the table than commercially
bought chickens. Ways to reduce feed is to confine your birds and to get breeds that are fast
growing. Different breeds are more feed efficient than others. Cross breeding can sometimes
produce more feed efficient birds. If you are raising chickens for meat that will be sold, it is
important to buy the right breed of efficient feed to pound ratio.
Rapid Weight Gain: Ideally, your chickens that are bred for meat should have a rapid weight
gain and be ready for slaughtering in 5 to 8 weeks. Some breeds will put on more weight
than others. The commercial Cornish Cross breed is an example of a breed that will have
rapid weight gain. Many chicken farmers will recommend mixing milk or buttermilk in the
feed to fatten up chickens. Additionally, table scraps are also good. The chickens should be
confined a little so that they take less exercise. Try not to feed them high fiber supplements.
Early Maturity: When raising chickens for meat and eggs, try to select breeds that mature
early. These breeds will have a higher rate of feed conversion and be more economical to
keep. The New Hampshire breed is known for its early maturity. This is a dual purpose bird
that is a good layer and meat bird. Raising chickens for meat or eggs means economical
management of feed per bird. Leghorns are excellent layers and are light birds that will con-
sume less feed per bird and will lay at an early age.
Trap Nesting: This is when you will literally trap the chicken as she is laying eggs. This is a
method used to check on your laying chickens, whether they have laid eggs and how many
eggs they have produced. You can easily see what sort of eggs one chicken has produced
and the quality of chicks for breeding purposes. This method will separate your best layers
from the rest of the flock.
Culling: It is when you get rid of the birds that you do not need when you are breeding for
production of meat and eggs. To get exactly the right breed of bird you will need to cull
ruthlessly. When you get too many roosters you also need to sell or slaughter them.