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Meat birds-they seem poorly bred...

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Have been considering getting meat birds but all this talk about legs breaking and other health issues if allowed to get too old/large has me thinking they are genetic nightmares so why would anyone want to use them for food?

 

Any thoughts on this from meat birders?  Are there breeds that aren't as, well, messed up?  The idea in general is that we want to get meat birds to provide food for ourselves that we have more control over the rearing and keeping of while it is alive so why would we want to begin with such genetic messes????

 

Again, very new to this and maybe I have the wrong outlook on it all hu.gif

post #2 of 12

I guess one could argue they are poorly bred due to their health issues.  Or, one could argue they are fantastic breeding successes for the results they provide - tasty meat, huge breasts, fast growth.  That is indeed what they were "engineered" to do.  Lots of folks are shying away from Cornish X for the health reasons and going with various Red Rangers (several different names).  Some hatcheries are selling a "slow" Cornish X that is reported to have fewer leg problems due to slower growth.  Others prefer dual purpose varieties - using he hens for eggs and the cockerels for processing.  I think there is a happy medium for most folks in there somewhere who are looking for a meat bird.  Good luck to you in your choice!
 

I never considered a difference in opinion, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.  - Thomas Jefferson
Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.  - Ben Franklin
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.  - Teddy Roosevelt
 

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I never considered a difference in opinion, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.  - Thomas Jefferson
Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.  - Ben Franklin
If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn't sit for a month.  - Teddy Roosevelt
 

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post #3 of 12

Some people have bad luck with the cornish cross birds and some just love to raise them.  There are alot of variables and your success or failure with raising the birds will depend on their genetics, the weather, and alot on your husbandry methods.  These birds need more care than just putting them in the yard and letting them fend for themselves.

 

If you are looking for a bird that will grow quickly, with large a large quantity of white meat and great feed to meat ratio - the cornish cross chickens are the way to go. 

 

There are also other broiler "breeds" out there also.  They will not be quite as fast to grow out and I don't think they have as large of breast either, but they do sound like they are a little hardier than some of the cornish cross.

 

You are on the right forum to get alot of opinions and experience from people who raise meat birds.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wyoDreamer View Post

Some people have bad luck with the cornish cross birds and some just love to raise them.  There are alot of variables and your success or failure with raising the birds will depend on their genetics, the weather, and alot on your husbandry methods.  These birds need more care than just putting them in the yard and letting them fend for themselves.

 

 

Can you be more specific as to what you mean regarding the "fend for themselves" part?  I would assume they require the same care as a pet bird or egg laying hens?  Proper shelter, food, water, ranging time, etc....?  Are there other things I haven't any idea on?

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by redsoxs View Post

I guess one could argue they are poorly bred due to their health issues.  Or, one could argue they are fantastic breeding successes for the results they provide - tasty meat, huge breasts, fast growth.  That is indeed what they were "engineered" to do.  Lots of folks are shying away from Cornish X for the health reasons and going with various Red Rangers (several different names).  Some hatcheries are selling a "slow" Cornish X that is reported to have fewer leg problems due to slower growth.  Others prefer dual purpose varieties - using he hens for eggs and the cockerels for processing.  I think there is a happy medium for most folks in there somewhere who are looking for a meat bird.  Good luck to you in your choice!
 

I guess it just seems to me that so many I have read about are bred to be super fast growers which in turn causes the health issues and if one is trying to eat more natural/organic/healthy then aren't we risking our health putting this gentically tampered with meat into our bodies?  I do realize that is exactly what I have been eating when I bring home a Perdue from the store or more recently probably the organic birds from Whole Foods which are probably these genetic messes but are raised organically on the farm they come from at least for their short lives. 

post #6 of 12

All chickens are 'genetic messes'!  Each and every breed.  Same with dogs.  Or cats.  Or most Americans for that matter!   

 

CX's are simply bred to grow to maximize the results we desire.  No different than a Leghorn (for egg efficiency).  Just made that way.

 

I raise meat birds so I know that they've lived the best life possible - with sunshine and fresh air and clean surroundings (ok, as clean as I can keep it - broilers are simply messy!).

 

If you take care of them well, they'll do well.  Same as any layer.  Because they've been bred to grow quickly, they are more feed-oriented than other breeds, so tend to over-consume when feed is presented.  But all I've raised have been healthy - yes, one had a broken wing from being stepped on by a flock-mate in eagerness to get to feeder one morning when about 7wks old.  (A 6# bird is a dangerous thing!).  But truthfully, the horror stories you hear are not the ones presented on this forum.  Read back about 30 pages worth of posts - you'll figure your way forward.

 

And no, all broiler birds love love love chicken feed.  Yes, they'll eat bugs and grass.  But show up with a bucket and they'll chase you to get it!  Same as my layers when they see my treat bucket.  Only difference is that the layers have feed 24/7 - and don't consume all 25#'s in the trough.  Not so with broilers.     

-- Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break --

Beloved spouse of wonderful husband, Mom to two men-in-training, 4 Eastern 3-toed box turtles, 1 spoiled parrotlet, 1 playful feline and a jealous dog.  20 Black Java laying flock.  Love our Java's!  Meaties growin' in the barn.  Bees humming in the garden.  Orchard going in.  Work never ever completed - but loving it! 

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-- Blessed are the flexible, for they will not break --

Beloved spouse of wonderful husband, Mom to two men-in-training, 4 Eastern 3-toed box turtles, 1 spoiled parrotlet, 1 playful feline and a jealous dog.  20 Black Java laying flock.  Love our Java's!  Meaties growin' in the barn.  Bees humming in the garden.  Orchard going in.  Work never ever completed - but loving it! 

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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Life is Good, you seem well knowledged on meat birds so I pose this question to you.  If I am paying $12-$14 a bird for a grass fed organic bird at say Whole Foods, will I wind up spending about the same, less, or more by the time all is said and done should I try my hand at raising my own?  Maybe I would just be better suited for now sticking with the original plan of layers only. 

post #8 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymonkeybug View Post

I guess it just seems to me that so many I have read about are bred to be super fast growers which in turn causes the health issues and if one is trying to eat more natural/organic/healthy then aren't we risking our health putting this gentically tampered with meat into our bodies?  I do realize that is exactly what I have been eating when I bring home a Perdue from the store or more recently probably the organic birds from Whole Foods which are probably these genetic messes but are raised organically on the farm they come from at least for their short lives. 

Cornish cross do have their problems if not managed correctly.  They are not genetically tampered with but the result of 50+ years of selective breeding.  They were bred for optimal growth and they are hybrids but they were not meant to live long lives. 

 

I have raised some before, and may again.  I maintained a strict 12 hours on 12 hours off feed regimen.  I didn't lose any and had no leg problems.  You cannot beat the size in that time frame.  For instance, I recently processed some JG at 18 weeks.  JG are a very slow growing breed but the roos were maybe 5 lbs after cleaning.  Compare that to cornish the oldest of which I processed at 10 weeks and they were HUGE, probably 10 lbs cleaned.

DOGS: 4 Shih Tzu, 1 Papillon, 1 Great Pyrenees

CHICKENS: 1 BO, 2 EE, 2 WLH, blue and splash JG, plus various aged JG, BO, JG/BO and JG/EE chicks.   

DUCKS: Muscovy ducks: Adults, juveniles and ducklings.  Pekin ducks

 

Some threads started with basic info.

Picking a duck breed, where to buy, what genders to get

Raising and caring for ducklings

 

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DOGS: 4 Shih Tzu, 1 Papillon, 1 Great Pyrenees

CHICKENS: 1 BO, 2 EE, 2 WLH, blue and splash JG, plus various aged JG, BO, JG/BO and JG/EE chicks.   

DUCKS: Muscovy ducks: Adults, juveniles and ducklings.  Pekin ducks

 

Some threads started with basic info.

Picking a duck breed, where to buy, what genders to get

Raising and caring for ducklings

 

Reply
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymonkeybug View Post

Life is Good, you seem well knowledged on meat birds so I pose this question to you.  If I am paying $12-$14 a bird for a grass fed organic bird at say Whole Foods, will I wind up spending about the same, less, or more by the time all is said and done should I try my hand at raising my own?  Maybe I would just be better suited for now sticking with the original plan of layers only. 

 

From my calculations and experience, you will spend more raising them yourself. I currently pay $17 for a 40lb bag of chick starter/grower, thats the non medicated but not organic ration, I dont even want to know what organic would cost(since they have to special order that I bet over $20 for sure). So a broiler will eat 1 bag per bird roughly to get to butcher weight(for us that is about 8 - 10 weeks old - we like them big) sometimes more sometimes less, so I have about $17 worth of feed alone into each bird, then for butcher if I pay about $6 per chicken as well, $8 if they are "oversized".

So in feed and getting them into the freezer I am between $23-$25 per bird now, that isnt even including the electric bill, water(if dont have a well), bedding, supplies and -no matter what you do- nothing will pay for your time you put into them. Also some batches of these birds no matter how careful you feed and exercise them halfway thru you still may loose 1 or 2 to heart attack etc so there is a bird that has eaten its fair share already without you getting an "end-product".

 

I personally still like to raise them just for the fact I know what they ate(non medicated feed, grass and bugs if they arent too lazy of a bunch) and how calm and happy of a life they had. I wont raise them for the public anymore since folks just do not want to pay enough to make you break even.

They want farm and free ranged raised chickens but not the price tag associated with them.

Boothcreek Ranch

proud breeder of LF Leghorns(Black,Partridge/Blue Part, Buff, Silver), LF Black Australorps, LF Ameraucanas(B/B/S, Buff, Silver), Pilgrim Geese, Muscovy Ducks(B/B, Choc), Australian Spotted Ducks, Cortunix Quail(Gold, Wild, Tux, Rosetta- also avail in blue/silver, whites), Ringneck Pheasants, French Red Leg Partridges and Black Shoulder Peafowl. Striving for Exhibition type

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Boothcreek Ranch

proud breeder of LF Leghorns(Black,Partridge/Blue Part, Buff, Silver), LF Black Australorps, LF Ameraucanas(B/B/S, Buff, Silver), Pilgrim Geese, Muscovy Ducks(B/B, Choc), Australian Spotted Ducks, Cortunix Quail(Gold, Wild, Tux, Rosetta- also avail in blue/silver, whites), Ringneck Pheasants, French Red Leg Partridges and Black Shoulder Peafowl. Striving for Exhibition type

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post #10 of 12

Meyers says you can expect CX's to eat 18-20 pounds of 20% Protein feed from day old chick to processing size at 7-8 weeks.  Our experience has been, with moving them to fresh grass everyday in our tractor and keeping them on a 12 hour feed schedule, we've averaged 14 lbs per bird.  With the cost of the chicks, plus shipping, and feed, our costs average around $1.30 per pound.  This cost doesn't factor in our time, the cost of the lighting, our depreciation for feeders & other equipment.  We have a plucker and do all the processing ourselves. 

 

We buy our chicks from Schlecht's which I wholeheartedly recommend.  They are great folks and our chicks have been very, very good.  In fact, this last batch that we processed on July 4th were flying over the (2'-0") top of our tractor.  Strong wings for heavy CX's!  D.gif

 

We've never had CX's come close to eating a bag of feed per bird.  I could see turkeys doing that, though.  The few turkeys we've raised, heritage breeds, have eaten us out of house and home!  :)


Edited by CarriageStone - 1/3/13 at 6:40pm
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