Originally Posted by OrganicFarmWife
So the plan this summer is to raise 60 meat chickens, giving us 1 chicken a week. I need a chicken tractor because I am going to pasture them in our back field (DH signed off on this because it is a small field and he can still pasture his cows on it.) My baby brother came out today and we found an old broiler pen in the junk pile. It still looks solid just needs new wire. We also found some never used tin roofing, a no longer road worthy lowboy, and old fencing. That along with all the old wood in our barn I should be able to build this tractor without buying much more then new chicken wire
It will be smaller then this, but I am going to base it on this plan. Was planning on housing a mixture of birds, Cornish x, Red ranger, Jersey Giants, maybe some dark cornish. Then the plan is to hold the best females back and put them in with my layers, try to breed out next year's meat birds.
This feels very ambitious to me. But am going to give it all a shot. I would love to be 70% self sufficient in 3 years.
I think you will find you enjoy broilers if you do it right, I do! The plan you have sounds pretty good in terms of housing/pasturing. A few lines of advice-
1) don't take anyone's word about Cornish cross being a bad or dirty bird. If you care for it right you may find them to be one of your favorite breeds of chickens (I have a CX hen I kept from last summer and she is one of my most friendly chickens, lays well too) they free range just fine and I didn't have a single issue besides one scissor beak in my whole batch. Zero losses once they were out of the brooder.
2) depending on your time constraints consider breaking your broilers into 2 or even 3 groups. Brooding 60+ chicks at a time is tough. I struggled with smothering issues when I brooded 70 at once. Even if you separated them by 2 weeks per batch. 60 birds is also a lot to process at once
3) learn to process your own. It saves money, isn't that hard, and also plays into being self sufficient. Yes it may be hard at first but it will make you appreciate the chickens more and you can assure they were treated well right up to the end.
4) growing heritage breeds will take much longer and won't get as big. You probably know that and may not care but still...
5) look for a breed called Dixie Rainbows or similar. I have raised them and they are a great breed. They reached a great size in 14 weeks and they are supposed to breed true. I have 5 hens and a rooster I kept back and hope to breed them this year. My rooster is enormous so I'm counting on his genetics