It's hard to imagine them on a plate at this age...

We don’t buy meat – we grow our own. I’ve been trying to work out how many chickens I need to raise and then kill to meet the needs of my family – a daunting task given the increasing appetites of my lads. According to data provided by the Australian Chicken Meat Federation Inc Australians consumed, on average, 43.9 kilos each of chicken in the 2010/2011 year, resulting in 465.7 million birds being slaughtered.

One site I found reckoned that a the amount of meat on a chicken is about 60% of it’s overall weight. Given we’ll be eating youngish Plymouth Rock cockerels at approximately 3kgs – that means we’ll get approximately 1.8kilos per bird.

If I use the ACMF estimation for chicken meat consumption for a family of four I’d need to provide 175 kgs of meat – which means raising 97 birds – that seems a huge amount!!!! (and my brain hurts from all that maths).

After figuring that out I’ve come to the conclusion we are not an ‘average’ family – we don’t need to eat that much meat. It’s an occasional inclusion into our diet not a daily event. Our meat is a by-product of breeding chickens rather than a reason to raise chickens in itself – although I do raise dual-purpose birds so that anything I have to kill is a good eating bird. I’m thinking once a month is enough, so a dozen roosters in the freezer would be good – and given I’m the one who has to kill and dress them (not a job I particularly enjoy) I’d rather keep the numbers low.

We’ve got about 30 chicks growing at the moment – and knowing my luck a high percentage will be boys so we should have more than enough. The girls will be sold on as point of lay pullets to those keen to have some beautiful layers in their backyards. The sale of the pullets should pay the costs of raising the boys for meat – making that part of our diets cost neutral.


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