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Broiler Feed

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I'm new to this chicken business. Our family farm already raises grass fed beef, lamb, and pastured pork, but I thought I'd strike out and do something on my own (I also keep bees and have started working with mushrooms).

After reading Joel Salatin & anything else I can get my hands on, I've decided to try my hand at the pastured poultry similar to Joel's operation. What seemed like a pretty simple idea has upturned soooo many questions.  Seemingly-very-dumb ones with obvious answers that I can't find! So, here goes, and many thanks in advance!

1. Do I buy male or female broilers?
2. Where do you recommend buying starter & finisher from? Can I feed broilers 18% or do I need to stick to 22-28%? How much feed does each bird consume in its first 3 weeks in brooder & remaining 5 weeks on pasture?
3. Any good recommendations on how to put together a brooder? I plan to start with 200 chicks, and have a great pole barn next to our house that I'd like to use (with a hover??)

That's enough to start with. I've got chicken on my brain 24/7 it feels like.

Thanks! Amy

post #2 of 8

1.  I would recomend you buy the straight run broilers. The males will probably mature a wee bit before the females.  You just process all the males the first weekend feed the females another week and process them the next weekend. We feel this is just doing our part to not cause the hatcheries to have to get rid of unsold chicks.

2.  Your best bet for chicken feed is a farmers cooperative. They usually have a good quality product with good turn around at a very good price. That feed you get at tsc may not be as fresh. I usually feed a 20 percent ration to our broilers from start to finish. We do choose feed with no meds and we do free range our broiler flocks as well. We find the broilers are about a 3 to 1 ratio meaning for every 3 pounds they eat you get 1 pound of meat. So a 7 pound broiler would require about 21 pounds of feed. Around here that is about $2.50 to $2.70  depending on the price of feed. We do free range so they may get about 20 percent of their feed from the foraging, though they probably burn that with all the extra exercise. We do believe though that happy chickens=tasty chickens.

3. We usually brood our chicks in a small shed so any small area free from drafts that you can install a heat lamp in will work. As long as they have walls about 2 feet high it will keep the draft off even in the middle of your barn. We have even used a couple of those 6 foot wide kiddie pools that are made of plastic. They work great until they are big enough to jup out.

Good luck, and you have come to the right place for help.

Chris

post #3 of 8

Where do I find a farmer's cooperative? I have been looking and none of the feed stores have broiler feed. Only layer feed. Ack! I don't have that many birds, and not a whole lot of storage... so buying by the ton doesn't make sense. Any suggestions?

post #4 of 8

Straight run..for sure...

I believe you need more protein than 18%...  I started with 24% starter and now am on 21% meatbird crumbles to finish.  I get mine from Rural King or TSC or a local True Value(that doubles as a farm store)...

I went through 50 lbs in 3 1/2 weeks with 14 birds.  Next 50 lbs will last about 10 days (I am halfway thorugh a bag since Saturday).  Of course that will depend on how much you feed them.  My experience is whatever you put in front of them they eat.  Put 3 lbs for the day, it's gone, put 5 or 7 lbs its gone as well...

Mine turned 4 weeks Tues and am putting about 5 lbs of feed a day in front of them.

Buy lots of litter(shavings).  My 14 are going through 2 gallons of water a day(it has been 90 the past couple days in Indiana).  I had fresh shavings on Sat and even though I stir it up 2 times a day, it was so nasty and smelly last night I had to change it again.  They are pooping machines.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by amy 

1. Do I buy male or female broilers?


Straight run.  By the time they are ready to be processed, you'll barely be able to tell males from females anyhow.  Having the mix gives you a range of weights, which my customers enjoy having the choice.  Some people shoot for having all their broilers identical weights when butchered; but I don't see why.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amy 

2. Where do you recommend buying starter & finisher from? Can I feed broilers 18% or do I need to stick to 22-28%? How much feed does each bird consume in its first 3 weeks in brooder & remaining 5 weeks on pasture?


I buy a broiler starter/finisher which is 20 or 21%.  I never change the feed.  They have the same stuff brooder to butcher.  My last batch of cornish crosses consumed:

19.5 lbs per bird with an average slaughter weight of 6 lbs.  That's a FCR of a bit over 3.  You can get closer to 2.5 allegedly.   So to determine how much food to buy in (and it will be cheaper to buy ALL the food up front, not a bag at a time), determine what finished weight you want and multiply it out by the FCR and number of birds.

3 weeks in brooder and 5-7 weeks on pasture works for me, except in wet springs.  That really drops the FCR down and you'll have mortality issues.  Even with perfect growing conditions, you should expect to lose up to 15% of the 200.  Also, move the tractor every single day.  Don't skip a day due to hang-over, indolence, etc.  That's always when the trouble starts.

Quote:
Originally Posted by amy 

3. Any good recommendations on how to put together a brooder? I plan to start with 200 chicks, and have a great pole barn next to our house that I'd like to use (with a hover??)


Old livestock waterers, those big galvanized ones (150 gal+), are a quick way to slap together a brooder.  See if you can find some with rotted out bottoms that no one wants.  Fill with wood shavings, fashion together some kind of roof with plywood, poultry wire and 1x3's, then add your feeders, waterers and heat lamps.  Boom, you're done.

post #6 of 8

We started our 25 chicks (5 NHR and 20 XRocks) in the Rubbermaid tote we used to store our old Christmas tree.  Of course, we were really *scrambling* after that 6a.m. call that came a day early!!

We started everyone on 20% starter.  We had moved the meat chicks up to the 24% feed after about 4 weeks, but  it cost too much, so we put them back on the starter with the Reds.  Theyve been foraging for the last 3 weeks, but still we put out about 8 cups of feed  2x/day.  Plus scrapings and peelings.

Did I mention that our meat birds are HUGE?!

I feel like I've just won the Pullet Surprise . . .

Fresh eggs from spoiled chickens!!
Reply
I feel like I've just won the Pullet Surprise . . .

Fresh eggs from spoiled chickens!!
Reply
post #7 of 8
So the highest protein feed would be best? Can i keep my broilers on 20% chick feed from chicks till market?
post #8 of 8

So when you say " Around here that is about $2.50 to $2.70  depending on the price of feed." is that for the whole 9-weeks?

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