36 Chicks and A Plucker


The meat chicks are here!
They were nearly too excited to stay in the box.
That’s 35 male Jumbo Cornish X Rocks. They’ll dress out at three to four pounds in six to eight weeks. Notice there’s one different one in there. That’s #36, the extra they threw in. It’s feather-footed, so probably some kind of Cochin breed. But they don’t tell you what it is, or whether it’s male or female. Morgan is home for spring break. She started picking up chicks and naming them. I said, “They won’t be around that long. They’re meat chicks. If you want to name any of them, name that one.” I pointed to #36 and explained that we didn’t know what it was or if it was a boy or a girl.

Morgan: “It shall be named Rykener.” John Rykener was a 14th century transvestite who worked in London and claimed upon arrest that he had slept with numerous monks, priests, and nuns. When cross-dressing, he called himself Eleanor Rykener. “We don’t know if it’s a boy or a girl, so is it John or Eleanor? That’s why it should be named Rykener,” Morgan explained. She held the chick up in her hand, peered into its fluffy face, and inquired, “Are you going to tell me how many church officials you’ve slept with?”

Clearly, she spends too much time engrossed in her history studies at college.

Rykener, and the rest of the gang, are currently housed in big tubs in the cellar where they can benefit from the heater on the cold nights we’re having this week. They’ll go to a stall in the barn when the weather is a little better and they’re a little bigger.
Trunkful of extra feeders and waterers and feed.
These chicks are big eaters. They fall upon their organic starter crumbles like a ravening horde every time I refill their trays. At 10 days of age, it’s recommended to start taking their feed away at night because they will eat non-stop if food is supplied. They grow quickly from their enormous appetites, and if they grow too quickly, their weight can outstrip their leg development to support themselves. Taking food away at night helps slow them down a little, giving their legs time to grow in pace with their appetites.

They’re on organic chick starter because it’s non-medicated. I had them vaccinated at the hatchery. If you give medicated starter to vaccinated chicks, it nullifies the vaccinations. They had a booster in their feed as soon as they came out of the box, and get a vitamin mix in their water daily. They’re off to a good start, and we haven’t lost one.

I hate losing chicks.

You know, till it’s time.
Tub-style automatic plucker. The last plucker I used was borrowed. This one is ours. It’s really cool. This is how it works. (This isn’t exactly the same plucker, but it’s similar. Our plucker is also an EZ Plucker.)

We’re culling some roosters this weekend, and I can’t wait to try it out.
(By the way, that’s just a protective tape on the outside that peels off. It’s there to protect the steel frame in shipping.)

We’re getting ready for chicken processing workshops coming up. If you’re interested, check out the info below.

Chicken Processing Workshops

IMG_5327regFrom chick to plate, this full-day workshop has it all. Learn the basics of selecting and brooding chicks, and managing, growing, and housing chickens, along with hands-on poultry processing. Whether you have a small farm or just chickens in your backyard, you’ll gain the experience to provide your own healthy, natural poultry. Included will be slaughtering, scalding, plucking, gutting/cleaning, as well as vacuum packing and pressure canning chicken. Every attendee will leave with their own fully processed bird. We will be processing about 30 chickens on each date. Attendees will also have the opportunity to create a themed craft project of a wooden and wire egg or garden basket. Take-homes include your processed chicken and craft project. 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Breakfast, lunch, and supper are included. One-day workshop. $125.
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Saturday, July 30, 2016

See more information about 2016 retreats here and email me at [email protected] to sign up!


  1. Centauress says:

    So will Rykener receive a stay of execution if it turns out to be a she? I am sure the plucker will make the process more streamlined.

  2. RosieJo says:

    Can’t help myself so I will ask…what do you do with the feathers? I know you never waste a thing.

  3. ssuther27 says:

    I am curious as to why you are vaccinating your birds? Is it because you will be selling the meat? We do not vaccinate or medicate ours but they are for our own consumption.

  4. Leck Kill Farm says:

    Boy does this post bring back memories of getting peeps! I was just talking about “peep time of year” with someone the other day.

    I caught up on your recent posts, it sounds like the farm is really developing into a producing farm! Good for you. A close friend used to raise Hereford and we bought a half from him every year. Since he retired, I haven’t found another source 🙁 (that I like, that is)

    How does Morgan feel about the exit of the horses? They are an expensive pet, especially if you don’t ride regularly. None of the “real” farmers I know keep horses, something I could never understand when I was younger and horse-crazy. Now I understand.

    Good call on the goose. My best friend’s grandparents had two on their farm and these terrorized us. I hated those nasty things. We had to fill our pockets with rocks just to get into the barn!

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      We don’t have time to ride the horses regularly and Morgan isn’t riding them at all. She’s fine with them moving on. It will be better for them to be someplace where they’re ridden more, and we need the pasture for the cow explosion that’s about to happen!

  5. MousE says:

    Wait, what’s this about the horses? I’ve missed something…

  6. oakdalefarm says:

    I can share a little on the Cornish Cross birds. A friend of mine raises them for farmer’s markets. He advised me to make sure they do not get desert! We feed them in the morning and only the amount they will consume by mid-afternoon. Also, they need to be forced to move. Otherwise, they’re couch potatoes and will just sit at the feeder and guzzle feed. We make it a practice to move the feeders and waterers to different corners of their pen every day. Besides eating and sleeping, these birds do one other thing a LOT. We move their mobile pen around the grass every few days to keep things ‘sweet.’ We let ours go to 11 weeks one time. They were like little turkeys. Delicious birds, but too big. Eight to 10 weeks is our max.

    We also made our own version of your plucker. These things are great! It makes putting our own good birds into the freezer do-able and fun. Remember: No desert, and keep ’em moving. Cheers for you!

  7. Mandys says:

    I missed the horse newe too…where was that?

  8. Miss Judy says:

    One of my friends made his own chicken plucker with an old washing machine (the barrel insert) It looks a lot like yours. It works great!

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