I raised 11 broiler chickens in my backyard last year. I learned a lot from it and my family has enjoyed eating all of those delicious chickens. So I thought I'd try it again this year.
Last time I raised Freedom Rangers. I thought about raising them again, but I decided to look for a cheaper option. I found that Hoover's Hatchery had female Cornish Cross birds for $1.10 each. They tack on an additional $5.00 for orders of less than 100 birds. I can live with that. The Freedom Rangers are $2.10 per bird for an order of 25-49 and $1.55 if you order 50-99. That's for a straight run (which includes both males and females). Those prices don't include shipping. Last year I paid $2.70 per bird.
A lot of people prefer the male birds since they get bigger. I like having the option of ordering all females. I won't have to worry about any of them crowing and disturbing the neighbors. Anyway, when it was all said and done, the order of 50 female Cornish Cross chicks ended up costing $80.30 or $1.60 per bird.
Getting the birds was a bit of a fiasco. They were supposed to ship on April 1, but didn't ship until the 2nd. I thought the post office would call this morning when they arrived. Since that's what they did last year. So I worked from home. I hadn't received any calls by 10:30. Then I remembered that there was a tracking number in the email. I plugged it into the USPS web site and sure enough, the chicks arrived at the post office at 9:28. At 10:02 they were put on a truck and went out for delivery. Ack!
I had to be in the office this afternoon for a meeting. I left for work knowing that there was no way that I could be home when the chicks arrived. I texted one of my neighbors who works from home and explained the situation to her. A few hours later I got a text back saying the got the birds. I had the garage all set up and left a key for her. She put the birds in their bin and gave them water. I really lucked out. The mailman wasn't going to leave them on the porch. Who knows where they would've spent the night or how many of them would have died. As it was, they shipped 52 birds and one of them did die. (They ship extra knowing that all of them might not make it.)
Now is a good time to point out that I am not raising 50 chickens in my backyard. I am keeping 15 for myself and the rest are going to other people.
They'll stay in the garage for 2-3 weeks. I have them in the tub that I made for the ducks. I have a cage, but I didn't think it would be big enough. The sides of the tub aren't high, so I stacked boxes all around it to keep them from escaping.
I already mentioned the cost of the birds. I also bought 100 lbs. of start and grow feed for total of $29.98 and 3 packets of chick vitamins for $2.99. I didn't use the vitamins last time, but I figure the Cornish Cross birds are going to need all the help they can get. They have been known to have health issues. They've only been here a few hours and they've already gone through a quart of water.
Baby rabbits, baby chicks, gardening... It finally feels like Spring is here!