Even though I knew that is what they were bred to do, the meat chicks grew at an amazing rate that was only eclipsed by the amount of food they consumed and the amount of very stinky poop they created! I definitely would not get more than 12 in the future, given the size of our brooder box, I think ideally a second box the same size to split the dozen chicks between after week four or five would be a better option. Actually, the truly ideal situation would definitely be having the Indian Game bantams raise their own chicks for me and save me all that work!
We processed the first lot of meat chicks and the Australorpe just before Christmas. The whole process was alot easier than we expected, and plucking was a breeze. Even Miss A helped with giving one chook the chop - B1 and B2 while both being keen to taste our home grown chickens scampered away and hid inside after watching the first one be done -but an important part of understanding the life cycle of the food we eat (and it maybe also gave them a better understanding of why I get upset when they waste meat at meal times!). The Australorpe, despite being twice the height, was actually the hardest to gut and clean as the body cavity was no where near as big as the meat chicks. We ended up cooking him in the weber for Christmas lunch, but he was really tough (even with the left over meat cooked in the slow cooker it was still chewy. The meat chicks that we have eaten were beautiful roasted, definitely tastier, more meat and far more tender than the Australorpe. The food conversion for the meat chicks still made it more economical to raise them ourselves compard to buying free range chicken at the supermarket - and the taste was far superior.
For one reason or another, the remaining meat chickens were not processed until four or five weeks later, we lost two suddenly due to the extreme heat (even though they were in shade and had plenty of water, their sheer size made it difficult for them to cope with the heat). We raced to process them rather than risk loosing any more, but I didn't check for pin feathers - what a nightmare! It took half the day for me to pluck five chickens and they still have some pins that need pulling before I cooked them! Lesson learned and I will *always* check for pin feathers before chopping heads in future! Despite that, the taste was excellent and we are keen to try home grown Indian Game and Rhode Island Red at some stage in the future.
The dogs certainly enjoyed the scraps, including the feet!