How many of you FULLY Free Range your Cornish X Meaties? Tractors do not count. - Page 24
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My husband and I did our first 3 CX this year (huge number huh?) I had no idea what to expect. They were in a very large brooder with 6 Golden Comet pullets, 3 silkies, and 3 Buff Orpingtons. Because of our location (Northern NY) we had to leave them in the brooder longer than we wanted. By the time it was warm enough for them to go outside, they were almost 5 weeks and we had to cull one of them. Once they were outside they got around and foraged just as our others did. They were hilarious to watch and were much friendlier than any of our other birds. We let them go until they were roughly 14 weeks.. Not sure what they weighed as we skinned them and removed breasts, thighs and legs off the carcass. I know that next year we will buy them later, turn them out earlier, and I will let them rest in the fridge longer. Is it ok to vacuum seal them, and then let them rest in the fridge for a couple days??
This is my first year doing broiler chickens but I knew I wanted them to have happy outdoor lives. Thanks for your post as it gave me the confidence to try my own "version" of free range when I had a lot of people telling me it would not work. I live in BC Canada. I started my 1 day old chicks indoors with heat and their first day outside was when they were 5 days old, monitored and on a warm day. They had a large (15 x 25?) outdoor run with netting over top. They stayed in that area until they were 3 1/2 weeks old and mostly feathered, and then I let them out onto my property. I was too worried about ravens etc to let them out sooner. They spend the night in a tractor that I move every day, and during the day light hours they are free to roam my property which is fenced. They have lots to explore, and they RUN all over the place, only nap after eating or when it's hot and they seek out shade. When I feed them I sprinkle it around to make them work for it. I have 50 broilers out with 25 heritage chickens and they are all 4 weeks old right now. Here's hoping this continues to work as well as it has so far!
To follow up to my earlier post, all my chickens are now in the freezer and it went great! In total out of 52 broilers I lost 5. The first 3 all went on day 4 and 5 (chicks were shivering when I got them from the truck company), and then one at 4 weeks and one at 5 weeks for unknown reasons, just found them dead. For my first season I feel really good about it, as I know a lot of people who lost almost all their meat birds this year and don't know why (from same hatchery). Anyway, after 6 weeks they would completely trash the grass in their tractor overnight so it became stationary and they were just locked up in the dark so owls and things didn't eat them (I put peat moss on the floor and it never got smelly or wet). During the day they were let out to be loose on my property and they loved it. I did some birds at 8 weeks and dressed they were about 6lbs, some at 9 weeks which were all 6-7 lbs, and at 10 weeks I was getting 8-9lb birds! The last 15 I sent to an abattoir so I could sell them legally and they were all hens and came back 6.5-8lbs. They were the last and most active and smallest. I also have kept 3 hens to see what crossing them with my lavender orpington produces :) I fed them a non-GMO production feed which I fermented and added ACV and nutritional yeast to. Towards the end I did have two with sore legs, I think they had blown tendons or something like that. I processed them at home. They were supposed to have been all done at 9 weeks but my abattoir cancelled on me twice so they went longer than they were supposed to. Over all this is how I would do it again. All the chickens had outdoor real chicken lives, they never got smelly or dirty, they ran around and did mock fights with each other right up to the end.