Alternative ways to fatten up roosters for slaughter

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Drewberry Jungle Fowl Boy, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. Hey guys I'm just curious your thoughts on this topic. I've tried meat birds before and I just do not like the concept of such massive amounts of meat bird feed you have to feed them to get them up to weight.

    Now I just hatch out 50 new birds each year and thin the rooster population down once they start crowing and fighting too aggressively. That leaves me roughly 25 meat birds a season. I completely free range them so they are capable of growing to size without any feed after infancy. I stop feeding them at 6 to 8 weeks old and butcher them at 5 or 6 months old. They are actually a pretty nice fine grained meat. I like the earthy flavor of free range birds BUT they don't have the fat content I'd like to see in a bird.

    I strive to eat grass finished ruminant meat in general since their digestive systems are not designed to handle a large amount of seeds. I'm not against feeding birds grains since birds are actually designed to process seeds efficiently and assimilate fully. I think they can get enough wild seeds, pasture, fungi and bugs to support a balanced diet in my context on my land. They do stay pretty lean though like most wild animals do which makes sense.

    My question is if anyone has experimented with fattening up their meat birds using fruits, roots and nuts. That's the way 5 star goose is fattened up but waterfowl assimilate food a bit differently because of their migratory design to store more fat and nutrient reserves for long journeys flying. Not sure if my logic is correct. I know my birds tear up all my oxeheart carrots, non gmo sugar beets, berries and nuts. Never strategically tried to fatten them up with this though.

    I'm sure some might wonder why all the fuss because I could just grow a bunch of sunflowers and the corn I grow but I'm trying to lean away from annual gardeening practices and making perrennial edibles my mainstay for everything.
     
    Chris-n-Kate likes this.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Crossing the Road

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    How are your birds finding enough to eat in the U P in winter? No wonder they don't have any fat.
     
    Chris-n-Kate likes this.
  3. I'm talking about the roosters that I can't keep thru the winter. I hatch 50 eggs in April or May and half is usually roosters. I feed them until they feather out completely which takes from 6 to 8 weeks. Then I free range them all summer and fall without supplemental feed. I butcher them once I transfer all my birds from the mobile to the winter coop.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    Welcome to the forum, glad you joined.

    Dad raised his pretty much the same way. He would supplement the feed in winter when there was snow on the ground but otherwise they fed themselves. With the right climate and the right forage it's an economical way to go.

    I pasture mine inside electric netting so mine don't get the kind of forage they would need for your model, I have to supplement their feed. I butcher my cockerels around five months of age.

    I don't know of any practical way to add fat to your cockerels. Maybe you could lock them up and control all of what they eat for a few weeks but I think that would defeat your purpose. Cockerels and roosters just don't pack on much fat when they free range or even just forage a lot.

    On the other hand pullets and hens pack on a lot of fat. Before they start to lay they store up a bunch of fat. That fat is the reserve they live on when they go broody. That way they can stay on the nest instead of having to be out a lot foraging. Even pullets and hens of breeds that don't go broody a lot can store an impressive amount of fat.

    If fat is your goal, you might consider butchering your pullets as well as cockerels. You won't get as much meat, the meat won't have the flavor the cockerels do after their hormones kick in, and the meat will be more tender but you will get fat.
     

  5. Those are all good points thanks. So are you saying that even if you fed them good for that last 4 weeks they would just not pack on the fat because they are male? I find I have to seperate them at about 6 to 8 months old for sure or they'll be too heavy handed on the hens. I usually butcher at 5 or 6 months old. So my idea was that I'd house them on a partitioned side of the greenhouse coop for one month after everyone goes into that coop for the winter. I'd feed them excess hazels, berries, fruit, meat scraps from deer butchering and frost sweetened root crops. Basically have endless free supply of all that free choice the whole 4 weeks. They'd fatten up nice wouldn't they? or do they stop eating and have a super high metabolism because of male hormones? I also wonder if they'd get sick on that kind of diet. Everyone makes it seem like you need this perfectly blended nutrient profile feed but everything I mentioned together has all the essential nutrients so I'd think they'd self select what they want, or need, the most.

    I've heard of caponing but I'm trying to avoid that. Can't really get myself to do that
     
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  6. Kiki

    Kiki Is your thermometer calibrated?

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    I don't have any advice, just a question because I am curious.

    You say meat birds...what breed are they?
     
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

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    I don't know how much difference that would make. There is one way to find out, at least with a few.
     
  8. They aren't actually meat birds as in bred for meat. They are Icelandic landrace. They are basically in between a bantam and a full size bird. Adult size for a healthy rooster never goes over 2 to 3 lbs. Off the bone about a pound of meat. I'd like it to be a bit fattier though. I've tasted nut, fruit and root finished pork and goose that tasted really amazing so I'm hoping it would translate to my excess rooster I have to cull anyway. Chickens don't turn grass into fat like geese can tho so I'm curious if they can convert fruit, roots and nuts into a good fat layer. I don't want to do cornish crosses anymore.

    They are not super tough and stringy but definitely not a cornish cross flesh. Really good taste and fine grain meat though so I'm hoping I can turn them into nice fatty quail like morsels lol
     
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  9. Kiki

    Kiki Is your thermometer calibrated?

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    I'm going to guess that it might be hard to fatten these type of birds up without a commercially made feed

    :confused:
     
  10. Kusanar

    Kusanar Crowing

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    My opinion on the portion of your post above is: Does it really matter? If they are only being fed that for about a month and then butchered, it's not like they are going to get any sort of long term illness from incorrect nutrition that will impact their lives. No, I don't think I would feed a prized breeding rooster or laying hens that way, but for something that you will be eating pretty soon, I don't think it will matter if the nutrition isn't exactly right.
     

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