Before we raised our own meat chickens, I remember putting a Tyson or Perdue roaster in the crockpot all night, planning on making chicken soup the next day. I woke up that night to a putrid smell, but, being half asleep, wasn’t quite sure what it was.
The next day, the kids woke up and came in the kitchen and all exclaimed how it smelled like, well, I want to be proper, but, the word they used was, “poop.” Joel Salatin calls it “fecal soup.” He’s about right.
I hated to admit it, but, it was the chicken. My stomach churned. I couldn’t bring myself to eat that chicken. So, I set out to find chicken that we could eat, something healthy, something that was raised as it’s Creator intended it to be raised.
This was hard to find where I lived. There was organic or pastured poultry at the health food store, but they were a little too pricey for me.
So, we set out to raise our own. Now, we can eat chicken without holding our noses! We have a chicken tractor (a movable pen) to keep our meat birds in. They get fresh grass, seeds and bugs daily along with grain. Before my husband built the tractor, we put them in our shed out back at night, and then let them out in the morning. As you can see by the pictures, they knew that people meant food! It was a little unnerving to have 50 chickens chasing you. My son, R.J., thought it was a fun game!
After much chicken manure on our sidewalk, we made it a priority to build a tractor the following year. Words of wisdom that my husband would tell you: Don’t use 2x4s! They do not need to be that big and it is very hard to move!
Enough of our little story. Let’s talk business! Why pastured poultry?
Joel Salatin, a well-known organic farmer, says that pastured poultry is a wonderful way to make money on your farm. It has a low start-up cost. Buying chicks, feed and watering equipment along with the chicken tractor building supplies are the essentials. This is something that can be done in a backyard or pasture. It isn’t that time consuming until butchering time! He has written a great book on everything you could possibly want to know about pastured poultry and how to turn it into a profit. You can purchase his well known book here:
This is an enterprise with a quick cash turn around. In around 8 weeks, you will get your rewards.
Of course, you do need to learn how to butcher the chickens yourself, or if you know of a facility that butchers chickens, that is an option.
Check your state regulations as they can differ from the federal laws. Many states will allow you to butcher chickens without having an inspector present and sell them as long as you stay under a certain amount. Go here to find out about federal laws and state regulations:
Before you dive into this, please do your research and make sure you have a market. Also, if you have not butchered chickens, I highly suggest that you raise your own before you make it a business.
As more and more people have seen the conditions of the chicken that ends up on their plates, they are looking for healthy, natural chicken. If this is something that interests you, I encourage you to read Joel Salatin’s book. You can also go to The American Pastured Poultry Producers’ Association or APPA for some great info.
Another great book on this is Raising Poultry on Pasture. by APPA.
Do your homework. Learn all you can. Check and see if there is already pastured poultry growers in your area. Learn the regulations. It is important to find potential customers. You can even have your customers preorder chickens to work around some regulation loopholes.
This is a wonderful opportunity that even your children can get involved in! Here, my husband is giving a chicken butchering demonstration at our yearly Memorial Day Campout.
Can you see meat chickens in your farm enterprise?
If you are encouraged by Our Simple Farm, than would you join me? Look to the upper left to join this blog, subscribe via email or like me on Facebook. You can also look below and become a fan by liking my blog and/or follow me on Twitter!
Let us not forget….