How fast does a chick grow?

So how fast does a chicken grow up? Here are some pictures of Lucy and Sunny. Sunny hatched October 14. Usually hens hatch clutches of 6 to 15, however once in a while we have hens who end up with single chicks. With the weather getting colder and wetter, I try to keep hens from hatching clutches after September, but sometimes hens surprise you.

Here is Lucy and Sunny on October 15. Sunny is just one day old.

Lucy and Sunny on October 15

By November 9, Sunny is nearly fully fledged.

Lucy and Sunny on November 9

Here the two are on November 23, Sunny is nearly six weeks old. Many broiler chickens weigh 4 to 6 pounds by this age and are ready to be processed

Lucy and Sunny November 23

And here is Sunny on November 30, almost eight weeks old. She has at least another four months to go before she is fully grown.

Lucy and Sunny November 30

Next week, Sunny will be two months old. Its about the age at which hens stop raising chicks and let them be on their own. Since Sunny is an only chick she will most likely hang close to her mother for another month or more. Chicks with siblings have an easier time leaving their mothers. They’ll hang out together and form a clique that lasts a long time. Without siblings, single chicks take longer to develop their adult friends.

And here is Sven, our Swedish Flower Chicken rooster. He has a very impressive crow.

Sven

Early winter sun and new chicks

None of the chicken you buy at your favorite store ever get to spend time in the sunshine with its flock. Chicken you buy in stores are almost always hens, and not a single one ever got to flirt with a handsome rooster.

Chickens enjoying winter sunshine.
Chickens enjoying winter sunshine.

And you won’t find a single chicken for sale which ever got to spend time with its mother. Does it make a difference? It does to the chick, and having a mother gives the chick a great deal of comfort. There’s always a warm place to sleep at night and to take mid-day naps. And mother is always there to protect it.

Mother and daughter feeding.
Mother and daughter feeding.

Normally I don’t let broody hens hatch chicks this late in the year, but this year there are several determined hens. This is a two day old chick stepping outside to catch up to its mother.

New chick looking at mother
New chick looking at mother

And out in the woods is a scarecrow – not to frighten off any crows, but to stop any coyotes who venture too close. I recently saw a news report about scarecrows from around the world. According to the report, in Mongolia scarecrows are used to ward off wolves from flocks of sheep. So we’re putting up scarecrows in the woods to protect our chickens. Our two guard dogs do a great job, but there’s no harm in assisting them.

Scarecrow to keep coyotes away
Scarecrow to keep coyotes away

Roasting your chicken – preparing it

You’ve gone to the great effort and expense to procure one of these incredible heritage breed chickens from A Man and His Hoe. Unlike a whole chicken you buy in the store, which you have no idea when it was butchered, your chicken will have been butchered no more than 24 hours before you procure it. It may even have been butchered a few hours before you get your hands on it. And you’ll know the exact day and time down to the minute when it was butchered. You’ll also know when it was hatched and how old it was when it died. You may even know the mother that raised your chicken, and if you are lucky, you may get a chance to thank the mother while you are picking up your chicken. Each mother has her own way of raising chicks. Some mother hens are strict constructionists and keep their little chicks in line. Other mother hens are as carefree with their brood as a pot smoking Marin county liberal. Does it make a difference how the chickens taste when roasted? It’s up to you to decide.

These chickens are best roasted. And since your chicken is so fresh (unless you’ve committed the ghastly crime of freezing it, heaven forbid!), you will want to give it a few days rest to help it get over the trauma of dying. Chickens like to die as much as you do, and they deserve a few days to recover from their fate.

RoastingChickenDay1-A-ingredientsGo out into your garden (or if you aren’t in the mood to venture outside send your gardener, that’s why you hire him or her) and fetch a nice handful of herbs. Rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage and the like. Basically your favorite herbs.

Set out one to two teaspoons of salt.

Peel some garlic cloves.

Unwrap your chicken and rub the salt all over the chicken. As the chicken rests over the next two to three days, the salt will tenderize the meat, help it relax, and flavor it.

Stuff the cavity of the chicken the the herbs and garlic. They will help the chicken relive those many pleasant days it spent out in the garden.

RoastingChickenDay1-B-stuffedTruss the chicken. If you don’t know how to truss a chicken, search “trussing a chicken” on youtube. Have fun watching the many thousands of trussing videos and pick a method that suits you. There is no single right way.

RoastingChickenDay1-C-trussedPlace the chicken in a heavy pot which has a lid.

RoastingChickenDay1-D-in-potCover the pot with a lid and put it in the refrigerator for two to three days.

That’s all it takes to prepare your A Man and His Hoe chicken for perfect roasting.

RoastingChickenDay1-E-in-pot-with-lid