Some preparation for WinterRSS feed

Posted: Monday 19 November, 2012

by Rosemary at 3:10pm in Poultry 3 comments Comments closed

We’ve had a pretty good spell of weather this month so far so we’ve been enjoying clearing down the vegetable garden in preparation for winter. All the carrots are lifted and stored as are the spuds, so on Saturday, it was time to clear out the chooks.

The latest batch of Hubbards have been free-ranging in the vegetable garden, along with some young Welsummers and their “mums” and the Orpingtons. More Welsummers and the Cream Crested Legbars have been living on the front lawn.

So Saturday was the designated day. We killed nine Hubbards (we had one sudden death a few weeks ago) and two Welsummer cockerels.

The Hubbards yielded 30kg, which was fine, although the hens were a bit fatty. I wonder if this was the time of year, because we didn’t let them run on too long (96 days). We are well impressed with the Welsummers – we just took the breasts and legs, but they are a good size. Once we’ve cooked them, we’ll know more about taste and tenderness.

This made us think again about poultry meat. Usually we do two batches of Hubbards – one is spring and one late summer / autumn. However, next year, we’ll have the three pure breeds hopefully producing chicks – with the inevitable crop of cockerels. We think we might reduce the Hubbards to one batch of twelve – for Sunday roasts – and use the surplus purebred cockerels for chicken portions. I don’t think there will be much on any CCL cockerels but the Orpingtons should be OK and the Welsummers are fine.

So we have four Welsummer cockerels left – two from the first hatch and two from the second. Lucky, from the first hatch, is going to a new home at Louis’ Little Farm on Saturday and we’re keeping one of the two younger ones, leaving two to despatch before winter. The two Black Rock broodies have been returned to the laying flock.

Ruby, the Black Orpington that raised two Hubbards, looks a bit lost â�¹ and is slowly being integrated with Calvin and the other two B.O. hens (now called Pearl and Opal). The four CCL hens are doing well – they’re fast, though, and flighty but so is Columbus, so they can’t outrun him. The two older Welsummer pullets are just starting to lay – they are nice hens. I really like them, so I’m glad we’ve got another three younger ones. I’m going to ring the purebred hens tonight when they go to bed, so that I can reliably identify individuals.

We’re now down to three little houses, so there’s fewer to clean out over winter. The others are now cleaned out and in the barn, where I’ve started applying wood preservative.

Painting poultry housingPainting the poultry houses and runs.

Once that’s done, they can go back outside for the winter. If I can, I like to get it done now to avoid a rush and panic in the spring. I don’t know how I get the stuff all over me – you’d think I had applied it with my hands. And Meg has a few brown streaks she didn’t have earlier too.


Victorian Farmer

Sunday 9 December, 2012 at 7:53pm

i do think that you could do with out the hubbards and do youre own stock.i no that some have castle farms stock and very pleased with the out come using them for christmas


Monday 17 December, 2012 at 9:41am

I can definitely speak for Orpington cockerels for meat - perfectly good and with a decent breast. We have found that not giving the cockerels complete free range for their last 30 days does help bring up their weight. We keep ours in their own 'bachelor run' at this stage; made of heras panels tied together with baler twine/electric ties. This tends to keep the other cockerels happier too as there is less testosterone about!

CCL are autosexing I believe so you would have the option to dispatch the cockerels before they eat too much feed! (I doubt you would get value for feed cost in their meat)


Monday 17 December, 2012 at 10:21am

Thanks Sue, that's really helpful. We'd prefer to run whatever we can on for meat, but as you say the CCL would be more trouble (and cost) than would be worthwhile.

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