Raising Backyard Meat Chickens (STILL UNDER CONSTRUCTION)
12 Colored Range Broilers ("colored rangers")
Purchasing the chicks
In early April, I ordered 100 colored rangers from JMHatchery.com for delivery in mid-May. I only wanted 10, but ordered 100 in order to get the cost down to $1.20 per bird including shipping. I sold off 90 on my local craigslist, priced to make a small profit (to cover my time) but still priced lower than a similar number of birds ordered direct from the hatchery. The minimum order I allowed was 10, but several people bought 25-30.
On Wednesday May 13, I received the email from JM Hatchery that my chicks would be shipped that day! On Thursday May 14, I called my local post office to let them know that chicks would be coming in for me the next day. They said the chicks normally come on the 4 am truck. I told them I'd probably be in around 7 am. The PO called me a little before 7. (Nice of them to let me sleep in!) Along with my BF, we went to the PO and took delivery of the box of peeping (cold, hungry) chicks. It was chilly that morning, and the chicks were cold.
The hatchery sent 102 in case anyone didn't make it, but everyone was healthy. We took them home and got them under heat lamps and drinking warm water with vitamins & electrolytes, and eating organic (non-medicated) chick starter. It still took them a couple hours to warm up. We had an incident where I put down a waterer on a chicks toe, and the toe turned very red, other chicks started pecking at it! So we isolated that one chick (holding him to keep him warm), and within 1/2 hr the toe was not red and the chick went back into the group. We marked it so we knew which one it was to keep an eye on it. Since everyone was looking healthy, I was able to keep 12 chicks, and I kept "squish toe" in my own group.
My co-purchasers started coming around 9 am, and by 1 pm, I was left with just my own chicks. I had taken payment in advance, so everything went smoothly.
Growing to 10 weeks.
5/15 - Green Mountain Chick starter (organic), 50 lbs, 22% - 4 weeks
6/13 - Green Mountain Turkey Grower (organic), 50 lbs, 21% - 2 weeks
6/26 - Green Mountain Chicken Grower (conventional), 50 lbs, 20.8% - 10 days
7/6 - Green Mountain Chicken Grower Crumbles (conventional), 50 lbs, 20.8% - 10 days
7/17- Green Mountain Chicken Grower Crumbles (conventional), 50 lbs, 20.8% - 1/2 bag or more left at slaughter
7/23 - Butcher date - 10 weeks, 1 day.
The meaties have a run made with a 50 foot welded wire fence. However, they do not have easy access to fresh forage every day. I think this would make a difference. They are very interested to forage when their enclosure is moved (weekly). The fence is too cumbersome to move regularly. Maybe I will work out a better system if I do this again.
Food Conversion ratios - as reported by others.
Greyfields posted - b) The most efficient meat chickens, the super hybrid jumbo monster Cornish Cross, have a FCR around 2.2. c) The freedom rangers are advertising FCR's around 2.5.
UncleHoot posted - Cornish X usually have a FCR of around 2.5 to 3.0, depending on how you raise them. These Rangers seem to vary between 3.0 and 3.5. LIVE WEIGHT
Another post from Hoot - The FCR's are for pounds of feed to pound of meat, keep in mind. So 3.8 is right around a 2.5 FCR for live-weight. and later in the same thread Barbara Aaron posted - When we were producing the original Freedom Rangers, I can tell you that we used 16lbs feed to get the bird to 5lbs live weight. So that's a bit way out from the 5.2 FCR you are speaking about. Brandywine posted (with UncleHoot doing the math) - FCR of 3.8 DRESSED WEIGHT, colored rangers to 11 weeks. Weighed in at 5-7 lbs per bird.
Harp Turkey Ranch (see very helpful grow out journal) - growing batches of 100 but sometimes loosing a few
Washington State University research - http://www.puyallup.wsu.edu/soilmgmt/SusAg_PasturedPoultry.htm
- Batch 1 - 4/9/09 - FCR's - 4.2 lbs of feed to 1 lb of dressed meat (3.6 lbs @ 12 weeks) 1375 lbs of feed - post #177 in thread
- Batch 2 - 5/5/09, Avg weight - 3.5 lbs, FCR - 5.4 : 1 - post # Feed consumed - 1550 lbs - post #204 in thread .
The above website includes this chart -
Small birds (< 3 lb live at slaughter)
Age at slaughter (weeks)
chick then hen
chick then hen
chick then hen
chick then hen
Average carcass wt (lb)
Feed used (lb)
Feed used /bird (lb)
Feed conversion lb feed/lb meat