15 January 2015

Chicken swap and experiment

My neighbor wanted one of the barred cockerels - she likes the barred birds and wanted to get a certain one before I started slaughtering the assorted cockerels for food ("por comer").  Yesterday I had her come over and pick out which cockerel she liked best ... then we proceeded to catch Starry, the dark barred pullet who had been dusting up with all the other pullets a bit too regularly for my preference.  I almost used the phrase "for my tastes" but that would imply a solution Maria might find horrifying.

She still has about half of her Cornish-Rock nuggets, so she traded us two of the bigger cockerels for the barred pair.  Hubby helped carry over and back the chicks, and was a bit surprised to see the size of her nuggets.  Here are the two we got in trade, which are roughly the same size as the barred and mottled cockerels over in the bigger tractor:
2 new nuggets picking at a greens leaf

2 new Cornish-Rock nuggets
Hubby brought up the size difference, and I remarked that our neighbor feeds her chickens very differently than we feed ours.  She gives cracked corn and scratch grain from the start, while we feed chick crumble, then add in scratch grain (which has cracked corn in it) to supplement the crumble.  Plus our latest batch were tractored on the grass, and had the opportunity to catch bugs.  While reading on an old-long thread on BYC, I came upon this graphic which visually confirmed my point:
the difference in feed
cracked corn vs crumbles
My neighbor knows what I feed, but still doesn't veer off too much from her way (although last year she was not feeding scratch grains, only the cracked corn).

In a slightly tangential discussion of feeding meat birds in that long thread was a new-to-me gem about how some Europeans finish their meat birds: grains soaked in milk or even wine (the French in particular use wine).  I have two new meat birds that need a good finishing.  I have scratch grain.  I also have old, past-date buttermilk in the back fridge.  The new nuggets ate every last kernel of the soaked grain yesterday so I have another serving soaking already.  It should be interesting to see if this helps them fill out, and if it affects the flavor.

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