4H meat birds - double checking our info


10 Years
Apr 2, 2009
azalia, indiana
Ok, DD's first year in 4H and we decided to do the meat chickens. We got our day olds on 5/24. There are 5. I guess the premise is we all get these chicks at the same time, then bring them to the fair to see which one is the biggest. We are definately following rule #1 - DO NOT NAME THEM!

Feeding them a 23% food (my nearby elevator didn't have "Broiler" food as such, but reccomended this). He said to keep them on 23% until their stools indicated that they couldn't handle that high of protien any more (getting watery), then back them down to Chick Go (about 20% I think.) They have food and water 24/7, but no lights at night ('cause the polish babies need their sleep and they are in the same room, LOL). Are there some good "tricks" we can do to help them put on healthy weight? After reading of others' success with milk, I wondered about giving them yougurt since my laying flock loves it as a treat.

They are in our house for now, likely to move out into the coop (in a dog cage to seperate them from the rest - since they are smaller still) maybe tonight. Would like to get them free ranging to add to their food intake - but need to find a safe way to do that. Any suggestions on easy, but safe enclosures? Don't want to spend a fortune, since the dog cage will be pricey enough. The cage will be about 3 ft. by 2 ft. and about 2.5 ft. tall (it's rated for a 70# dog - that way we can use it for our dog too, if ever needed.)

So far they seem fat and sassy, I'm just astounded by how big they get overnight sometimes - WOW!

I'm coming to you meaty - pros to see if I need to make changes, or if we are on the right track.
Farmer Dan - thanks for the great tutorial! Since we only need it for 6 to 8 weeks, do you think that PVC would be ok? I would likely keep them in a shady spot too, so that would cut down on the direct sun. We already have a lot of PVC pipes, joints, etc. at home so that would cut down on the cost.

Do you leave your meaties in this overnight, or bring them to a coop to be safer, then put them back out for the day? If they stay here overnight, wouldn't I need to build some shelter in there, or does the tarp/wind break cover that? (Do I sound as newbie as I feel, LOL)
Jim, thank you for that info! That's just the type of thing we wouldn't know as first year folks. So I should just keep them in a small coop and continue feeding them as we are then, yes?
Last year we raised 4-H broilers on pasture with supplemental 23% protein feed. They are not like pure breed birds who I have found eat a surprising amount of forage. The Broilers camp around the feeder and don't move or forage much. There just isn't a lot of personality to them.

However, raising them on pasture improved them in many ways
Manure was deposited on pasture, reducing our work load (just remember to move the tractor)
They were cleaner as they did not sit in their own poop (just remember to move that tractor)
The forage they did eat seemed to help them stay firmer and reduced leg issues, it seemed to offset the high level of protein in the feed.
I think being outside in a more natural environment actually encouraged them to eat more.

This method worked well for us and Rick won champion broiler pen out of 15 pens of birds that were all handed out at the same time. Even to a novice eye, Rick's birds were larger, healthier, better feathered and better "finished" than the other birds. It wasn't just partial Mom who said that, we had carefully placed ours in the cages nearest the entrance of the building and everyone commented as they came in.

Your results may vary.

We get our birds June 8 for a late July Fair.

We made some modifications to this basic structure for our birds. We add a tarp, created wire doors and ends and added roosts when using them for juvenile pure breeds. Broilers will sleep on the ground.


If you get out of chickens you can put clear plastic over them for mini-greenhouses.

Good Luck to you!
Book-marking this for future reference. We currently like the Hoop Houses better as they can also be used as in-and-out shelters in an electronetted pasture. But there are times we'd like to put a few birds outside the fence in the odd corners of the yard. This seems really good!
The hoop house looks like a great idea, and yes, it would double as a good place to keep a small group seperated when needed too. The best part is, it looks like something that DD & I could accomplish without having to get too much DH help

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