Meat Chickens are a great gateway animal into raising your own meat and becoming, overall, more sustainable.
On this episode of Homesteady, we revisit chicken ownership. As we examine homestead chickens closer, we have to wonder: are chickens a “gateway animal?” Does buying chickens lead to more chickens, then to pigs, goats, sheep, and even (perhaps) a cow? John Suscovich from the Growings Farms Podcast and Farm Marketing Solutions became a full-time farmer.
But First: We’ve got some changes happening on Homesteady! We are going weekly! For the next two months, we are going to broadcast weekly. We are hosting a LIVE SHOW at 9:00 PM EST, every week, live with Accountant Mike. Watch us on YouTube, on the Homesteady Channel, or on Prepperbroadcasting.com.
Today is our first time using our YouTube live-stream from last Tuesday evening! Did you know we will be live AGAIN this and EVERY Thursday event at 9:00 PM EST
Cornish Crosses’ were Aust’s first meat bird. Purchased at Tractor Supply Co, and treated more as pets, it was a very different experience at the beginning. Aust is able to reflect by re-reading an old Homesteady blog post on how his perception of raising chickens for meat has changed with experience. Now, Aust raises pastured pork along with meat chickens, and that pork is one of the most profitable of his homestead endeavors.
For Aust and Kendra, meat chickens were a gateway to raising pastured pigs; for John, chickens were the gateway into a career. John and his wife both wanted to farm; but they didn’t own any land. Not only that, they had been homeless for two years, embarking on a cross-country bike trip across the United States. After touring farms and craft breweries, they knew that living on the farm was the life for them. But, John had a fascination with chickens, and knew how to process meat birds. Becoming a pastured poultry farmer seemed the next logical step.
NO money, NO job, NO land; John saw only opportunities. The broad decision of going into agriculture was passion-based…but it had to work on a spreadsheet before it was going to work on the field. John went door to door until he had accumulated several offers from landowners with hay fields he could use to begin his chicken business. He used chicken tractors to develop a mobile pastured chicken business. John started with Joel Salatin’s chicken tractor design, and then…innovated. He designed a custom chicken tractor to meet his own needs. With a background in technical theater design, John was able to parlay his skills into his ideal chicken tractor. (See! EVEN THEATER can help on your homestead journey!) As John was selling chickens, people started to ask, “Where did you get those chicken tractors?” and another arm to his business was born.
Chickens for meat are great for a homesteader. Their infrastructure is mobile, they are affordable, they only take eight weeks to mature to processing if you use Cornish Cross chickens, and they are a very manageable animal. Running two or three groups of ten chickens will fertilize your lawn and fill your freezer. John has progressed from leasing open land to now running Camps Road Farm. He has diversified to not only raise chickens, but grows hops for his on-farm brewery and an apple orchard for his off-farm distillery.
There are two great resources John shares with us. The pastured poultry packet breaks down the process from purchase to processing. And of course the plans for his chicken tractor. If you’d like to build a John Suscovich chicken tractor, you can buy his book here. Homesteady Pioneers get ten percent off! Log into the discount section of the pioneer library. You can see the extended version of this podcast- an hour and a half long video- in the pioneer library.
You can do this. But what will you need to make the leap? And what about the butchering? You know, when the time comes to “process” the bird. While it is possible to process the chickens yourself, you are looking at a significant time commitment. At the very least, get a Power Plucker to help you pluck the feathers off the chickens.
What does Accountant Mike have to say? Is there a large enough profit margin? Does it get a thumbs up? Listen to find out.
With this being the THIRD Homesteady chicken episode, there is lots of material in our pioneer library about egg laying chickens, and now meat birds. Inspired after this episode to start with meat birds? John’s books, the power plucker, and so much more have discount codes available in the Pioneer portal.
We are a growing internet community! You can follow Aust on Instagram at @homesteadyshow and Alexia, The Suburban Escapee, at @suburbanescapee. Tag your homesteading posts with #iamhomesteady and we will find you and see what you are up to, as well as connect with other homesteaders and fans of the show.
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