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How To Raise Market Broilers For 4H

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Written by jmarwayne   


The 4H Market Broiler project is a popular way for 4H members to earn extra money without the expense of feeding a hog or steer. There are two ways in which 4H members can show market poultry: Broilers, which are raised for 8 weeks, and roasters which are raised to 12 weeks. Both are shown at the same time, but the roaster chicks are picked up 4 weeks earlier. The process for showing both projects is the same.


Step 1: Choose market broiler chicks that have strong legs and that are growing nicely. Don’t choose lethargic chicks or ones that appear “unthrifty”. Avoid chicks that have discharge from the nostrils, that have problems walking, or that have excessively runny droppings. These can be signs of health problems.

Step 2: Use a vitamin or electrolyte solution in their drinking water. This will help them to manage the stress of moving, and will help their bones support their growing weight. Poultry supply houses carry a variety of solutions designed especially for meat birds. There are also organic varieties if you choose to raise your chickens organically.

Step 3: You can “pasture” your broilers by raising them outside for all or part of the day. They may not gain as much as broilers that are raised indoors, but you will spend less time cleaning their pen, and the birds will stay cleaner. You can also use this as a marketing tool at your county fair. Many consumers today are looking for pastured poultry.

Step 4: Market broilers are exhibited and sold as a pair. About two weeks before your fair, choose your best four to six birds. Start bathing them every other day to get their feet and breastbones as clean as possible. Keep these birds on clean shavings every day.

Step 5: From these birds, choose your best pair to exhibit at the fair. Make sure they are as evenly matched as possible. Give them a bath the night before the fair. Transport them to the fair in a well-ventilated crate.

Step 6: Market broilers may be judged in the cage, or presented to the judge by the exhibitor. The judge will ask questions about your broiler project including feed, care, and what you learned during the project. The birds will be judged on health, vigor, and market characteristics.

Step 7: Many counties encourage 4H members to display a poster about their project. A poster describing an aspect of the market broiler project is a great way to share your project with the public.


Tips: Don’t dry market broilers in the sun after bathing them. This will give their feathers a yellowish tinge. Always be sure to write a thank you note to your auction buyer.

Warning: Make sure your broilers are kept cool at the fairgrounds. Always notify your 4H leader if a bird appears stressed or overheated.

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