Organic food has grown in popularity in recent years. However, there is a definite increase in cost if you purchase organic meat from your local grocery store. If you live in a rural area, another alternative to buying organic meat is to raise your own poultry. Raising the poultry yourself gives you control over what the animals eat and what conditions they are raised in, allowing you to produce your own organic meat. However, there are some things to think about before you start raising poultry.
Type of Poultry
First item to consider is what type of poultry you want. You can raise turkeys and plan for a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. Or you can choose chickens, of which there are two main categories – for meat or for laying eggs. If you raise the chickens for eggs, you will need to care for them for a longer period of time, up to a few years. They will also need a more permanent type of habitat that can handle any season, warm or cold. There are many breeds to choose from, each with unique qualities that may appeal to you. You also want to think about where to buy the eggs or chicks and in what quantity. They can be ordered online and mailed directly to you from a breeder, or you can purchase them directly at the local farm store. When thinking about quantity, keep in mind that not all of the birds will survive and live to adulthood, so you may want to order more than originally planned.
Once you have decided on the quantity, you will have to think about what type of habitat you will need. When they are young, they will need a warm habitat, but will not require a lot of space to move around. However, as they grow older, they will need more space, usually outdoors in a pen or some sort of enclosure. If you want them to graze and be free range, then you will need to fence in some grassy areas. You can purchase a pen or build your own.
Equipment and Supplies
You will need to have appropriate feed for the birds and provide them with water. There are special feeders and water containers that can be purchased. Feeder containers are usually shallow but long in length to allow many birds to eat at once. Some may have a lid with small holes large enough for the head of the birds to go through to access the food. Water containers usually are gravity fed, which allow for a continuous amount of water to be available for the birds to drink from. You may need a heating lamp to create a warm environment when they are young. You may need more than one of each item depending on the quantity of birds you plan to have. Plan on raising the birds for at least a few months, depending on how large you want the birds to be.
If you are raising poultry for meat, there is one final item to consider. Once the birds have reached the desired size and weight, they will need to be processed. You can plan on handling that aspect yourself but will need the appropriate equipment and knowledge. Or you can take them to a professional who will handle all the final details.
Raising poultry is a decision not to be taken lightly. There are many factors to consider first before you start. However, the rewards will be worth all the effort you put into it, creating your own source of organic food.