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A Beginner’s Excursion into Meatbirds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by teriz1091, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. teriz1091

    teriz1091 Chirping

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    I’m going to use this thread as a bit of a blog, & to get advice from seasoned meat bird growers as I go. I’ve been thinking about raising meat birds for a while, & finally decided to do it. (We have a small flock of 6 egg layers, but I want to put meat in the freezer.)

    I know it’s early, but I’d been price shopping Cornish X chicks. I only want to start with about 12-15 so I’m not overwhelmed with too many birds to butcher for my first time.

    I wasn’t planning on getting birds for another couple months, but Kansas State University’s poultry unit is having a chick sale next week for $0.50 per chick, which is way below what I priced from hatcheries online. So we’re going to bite the bullet & go for it. We’re picking up 15 chicks tomorrow.

    I have a set-up for them in the mud room to start. All I’ve got is a large wire dog crate with a heat lamp. I know that for so many chicks, it won’t last long, but it will get them started. Our property has a large dilapidated 2-story chicken house on it, which has been unused for many, many years. The landlord said someone used to raise game birds in it. There is a section of it, probably 12’ x 25’ or so, that was already sectioned off from the rest of the building. We closed off the open portion with chain link, & added some 3’ tall wood panels where it isn’t solid to help block wind & make a better barrier. I’ll take pictures of it & post them. It’s not pretty, but it didn’t cost us a single penny, & I think it will be functional.

    At what age should the birds be moved outside? I know that this is not the ideal time of year. I will keep a heat lamp on them once outside as well, as it’s been very cold lately.

    I read that meat birds need no less than 20% protein. I bought a bag of 24% starter at Tractor Supply. My thought process was to switch to Nutrena Meatbird feed (22%) after this bag. Is the 24% starter sufficient for them, or is it absolutely necessary to use only meatbird feed?

    Thank you for any advice & input. I’ll post pictures of the chicken house tonight, & of the chicks tomorrow night.
     
  2. sylviethecochin

    sylviethecochin Crowing

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    MrsMistyReal and teriz1091 like this.
  3. sunny022

    sunny022 In the Brooder

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    1. I am pretty new to all of this as well, but I am a little bit ahead of you so I thought I'd chime in since no one else has.
    2. There direction I am taking is different than yours. I am using only heritage birds because I choose to fight the big corporations and the modifications they have made to our food supply.

    Last year I raised and then processed hatchery purchased dual-purpose birds. That was a complete failure. 13 birds total did not give me 10 lbs total. 2 carcasses are only fit for broth. The rest won't feed 2 people each. Crying shame because they were good layers with wonderful temperments.

    This year I've changed directions. I have set up my own breeding program with red dorkings ... A rare, heritage dual purpose that "the man" hasn't put his paws on, lol. I'm just starting with this, so no one has gone to the processor yet.

    My dorkings have their own coop (thank goodness for heat lamps during this frigid period).

    I have layers left over from the other effort that inhabit their own coop.

    I plan to set up a small scale breeding pen this spring when the girls are closer to sexual maturity.

    Good luck in your endeavors and it will be nice to have someone to compare notes with.
     
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  4. Welshies

    Welshies Crowing

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    If you find the cornish crosses successful, you may want to explore heritage breeds. Heritage meat breeds are often quite self-sufficient, tasty, and lean. Many brood their own chicks, giving you a steady supply of food throughout the year at your leisure.
     
  5. RUNuts

    RUNuts Crowing

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    best of luck! I will also try raising meat birds this year. Ideal has been having sales, but between the weather and me not set up for a second meat pen (yet), I'm waiting for the stars to align.

    $0.50 a bird and you pick up is great pricing. Best I can do is $1.50 plus shipping for 20 bird minimum order.

    In good weather, I've heard people move the chicks out at 2-3 weeks. 4 weeks will be the guideline generally. Chicks are sensitive to the cold and adults are heat sensitive. Spring and fall are targets.

    Read some of the others' notes. Very good information and can see what they are up against. Will you keep yours on a feeding schedule? Free range? I'm looking for a tractor that will keep the dogs out and still allow me to move without help. :hmm

    Life is good. We have options.
     
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  6. teriz1091

    teriz1091 Chirping

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    I’m planning on keeping these guys confined to the chicken shed. My reasoning is that I don’t want them mixing with my egg laying flock, which free ranges. For a later batch, I’d like to put up a pen for outdoor access, but didn’t think it necessary at this time of year.
     
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  7. RUNuts

    RUNuts Crowing

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    Point taken. As long as they aren't overly crowded, I don't see any issues.

    How often does a poultry sale happen?
     
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  8. teriz1091

    teriz1091 Chirping

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    Chicks are here!

    0279719F-6633-4251-B7D2-4FFDD524C2CD.jpeg

    We ended up getting 20 chicks for $10. Not bad! I wasn’t planning on 20, but we’ll make it work!

    They’re all set up in our mud room. I read on one of these threads that you should put paper towels down for the first few days to deter them from eating their bedding. Sure enough, they started eating the shavings! Oh boy. So I set down a couple paper towels where they’re all congregating.
     
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  9. teriz1091

    teriz1091 Chirping

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    To answer some of the questions from above without adding multiple posts...

    My reasoning behind going with the Cornish Rock is that I wanted a fast growing bird, which will get to a good size in not a lot of time. And although it sounds silly, I wanted a white bird, especially for my first time with meat birds. This is because I’m a little worried that if I have red birds (or any other color), that I may become attached to them easier (we have a couple red hens in our egg laying flock), & slaughtering them would be more difficult if I’m fond of them. So I wanted a plain colored bird that will be easier for me to stay detached from. I don’t plan on interacting with these chicks much, other than to feed & water, so I don’t get attached. I think that will make processing day a little easier.

    I happened upon the ad for the college’s chick sale while browsing Craigslist. I’m not sure if it is a regular thing. However, I like that these chicks are local, & I know they were well cared for at the school. If this batch goes well, I would definitely like to purchase from them again.
     
    [email protected] and sunny022 like this.
  10. Welshies

    Welshies Crowing

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    I would suggest adding their contact information for next year :)
     
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