Keeping hens

...In middle age





>..Table chickens

...Rearing program

...- Quality

...Multiplying chickens

...- Incubator

Producing table chickens is another mass operation today.

Vast flocks are raised to some 6 to 8 weeks as broilers. They are killed, plucked, gutted and frozen almost as quickly as those famous peas. Herein lies the key to your possible success in this market. Why do fresh farm chickens taste far better than frozen mass-produced ones? Part of the secret is that traditionally, after a chicken has been killed and plucked, it is hung in a cool place for some 24 hours before eviscerating. Birds prepared in this way taste of chicken. If you can reach a market that appreciates this, your success is assured. Again, Farm Gate sales are excellent. It is astonishing how far people will travel to buy direct from the producer. Sunday afternoons can be very hectic if you become established in a suitable area for 'runs in the country'. If you are close to large centres of population, you will find it pays to advertise in local papers, shop windows and so on. 'Word of mouth' can also work dramatically. A few years ago our bank manager bought half a pig from us: the next thing we knew we were inundated with orders from the rest of his branch a good product can sometimes sell itself.

It is important to aim for repeat business. To sell one chicken to a customer is only the start; you want his business on a regular basis. After all, a regular buyer of your chickens will naturally ask you for turkey and other larger fowl.

Selling to butchers and other retailers puts your business into another legal setting. In this case you must be a registered producer. You are required to comply with certain regulations concerning separate killing- and producing-rooms, running water, drainage and so on. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries has further information on this. There are many changes still being effected in the regulations due to our membership of the EEC. In this market you may well be forced to consider deep-freezing your chickens: many retailers only sell frozen chicken. Of course, you will lose your higher price for fresh birds but it may mean that you can do fewer deliveries. The problems associated with selling frozen chicken are very similar to those associated with selling eggs into retail outlets image and price. The giant producers have standardised the product so much that it is generally the 'known brand' that sells or a much cheaper product.