What to expect…usually

According to John Suscovich over the course of eight weeks with broilers you can expect:

  1. chicks arrive and start living in the brooder
  2. growing fast, chicks start to grow feathers
  3. see pasture for the first time (this is where we currently are)
  4. thriving on pasture
  5. benefitting the soil with their manure
  6. what does a chicken actually eat?
  7. preparing for the final week
  8. processing

This is a really great outline, and he even has a great video series walking through each week, similar to how I’m doing here. But, it doesn’t really take into account so things that may come up, like weather, that may impact your ability to stick with that schedule.

When things don’t go according to plan

The best part about having a plan is not everything going according to that plan, but instead, it is the ability to be ready when things don’t go according to the plan. Based on the outline above, I should be introducing the chicks to their home out on the grass this week, but due to some unforeseen circumstances, the chicks are still in the brooder. What happened is that I was not quite prepared for how cold it would be (It’s dipping to almost freezing first thing in the morning when the dew drops) and also the impending rain in the forecast.

Cornish Cross do much better in cooler weather than they do in heat, but since this is my first time raising chickens in the cooler months I am erroring on the side of caution, and waiting until the rain passes so as to not freeze the chicks their first few days on grass. So, it’s looking like they will be meeting the grass towards the end of next week.

Everyone seems happy and healthy

It’s also hard to plan to move the chicks out to the cold when they seem to be doing so well right now.

The chicks grow very fast, but still are not quite feathered out. They have gone through roughly 25lbs of food so far, and a little more than half a bale of bedding (which I add once every few days when the brooder starts to smell bad).

All things considered, I am very happy with their growth and eager to get them on the grass. So, I will be watching the weather closely and “winterizing” the tractor with some additional tarping and a heat lamp in hopes that by the end of next week I can start fertilizing my grass!