First casualty

Cross your fingers … only one has gone this way… thus far. We had planned to butcher our meat birds today but would you believe it’s too hot? I checked on the birds before sunrise; it was 67°F and all was well. I checked again sometime after 1 PM, it was 98°F, and they were acting warm but otherwise alright. We’ll check once more this evening. The most difficult part of raising meat birds on pasture is timing. If you start too early in the spring you run the risk of being on pasture when conditions are cool and wet. If you start a bit later you run the risk of it being hot and dry. It is the very hot which is so very problematic. Without going into too much detail, suffice it to say that commercial broilers have been selected to be very thick bodied – they are put together in a way which differs dramatically from your average layer hen, for example. At 53 days our birds weight approximately 6-8 pounds; that’s a huge amount of weight to carry about. Add to that the respiratory and circulatory stresses brought on by this succession of hot days and … well, let’s just say that we’re hoping the weather pattern changes and brings somewhat cooler temperatures so that the remaining birds can finally be put into the freezers.

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