best ideas for rasing broilers in 4h program - new user

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by gib, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. gib

    gib New Egg

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    Sep 24, 2008
    Hello to all. I am a little new to forums and very new to chicken raising.

    Two of my children are in 4h this year and will be raising broilers. They are young; therefore, dad is very much the leader. Talk about the blind leading the blind.

    My experience in this area includes:

    1. Taking culls(?) from students last year, fattening them, butchering, and
    still eating.

    2. Reading everything I can find on subject.

    My conerns right now are producing the meatest chickens possible. I hope I have all the feeding, watering, temperature, caring, etc. down to at least get started.

    We will receive 3 boxes of chickens containing 25 chicks each. We have plenty of room and all the equipment.

    a. When do I begin the initial culling process, and what am I looking for?
    Each child will be able to have three go to show, so I am needing to
    eventually reduce to six.

    b. Fresh feed, clean water, clean coops, good temperature -what else can
    we do to assure the best possible outcome?

    From all I can tell in reading, I am really looking forward to everyone's help on this site. I hope I am not asking something that has been answered a 1000 times already. I am still new to "search" and typing exactly what I need in order to get answers.

    Thank you
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Well, since they are sending you the birds as I assume from the same source as all the kids so the husbandtry will be key, you'll probably want to pick the 6 birds of the same gender and best body shape. Now, I've never shown, but I assume you want to pick 6 identical birds and have them all be clean clean clean. That clean part is a very tough one with meat birds that will be easily 8lbs at 8 weeks old. Cull the ones that don't grow quickly and the ones who develop leg problems by goring too quickly. Those 75 birds are going to be going though ALOT of food. My guess is 600-700lbs if they all make it to market age/weight of about 8 weeks. I am assuming these broilers will be cornish x here.


    For these meat birds, there are many ways to feed them. Some withold feed at night, some do 12hrs food, 12 hours not. Some feed 24/7. I personally feed 24/7 BUT they are in tractors that are lit by daylight after 4 weeks old or so as they keep the temp up high enough on their own, so they naturally don't eat at night. One good thing to do is put the feeders high enough after theya re a week or two old so that they must stand and stretch up to eat, this will help prevent them from gorging and will encourage them to stand up a bit. They will eat alot, alot, alot, alot, and what goes in does come back out with lots of water they drink. A tractor type set up where you can move them from ground to ground might be best if you don't want to muck out their coops daily.


    I will tell you this now, meat birds are far from what layers are like, especially with 75 at one time! Don't be too distressed if you lose a few due to health issues generated by their 60 years of selective breeding. Bascially what I am saying is don't be discouraged from chickens if your first real experience with them are meat birds. Best of luck!
     
  3. DaKid

    DaKid Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 31, 2008
    Berkley , Ma.
    Ok some raise them for the 8 -10 weeks on broiler booster some raise on the turkey grower ..... I do prefer to split them on a choose of all the broiler feed- turkey grower and chick starter mix I found there legs don’t give out and yes I keep there feeders and waters are up so they are not eating or drinking while laying down , I to only feed the during the day and at certain times never at night so a 12 hrs no feed and 12 hrs in which I’ll feed but with limits not all of the 12 hrs . water is always on hand mostly 24 /7 ..........

    I have selected a few meat birds that I keep that are now well over 30 weeks old and I have been getting jumbo size eggs from plus I have breed a few with various breeds of jumbo dual / egg layers breeds in which to created my own breed or rock cross x-x- hens


    As far as eating yes there eating machine .... as far as poop , there pooping machines so I hope you have a garden or compose pile


    Well my 2 cents on how I’ve keep my meat bird ...............
    Well good luck

    Al
     
  4. gib

    gib New Egg

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    Sep 24, 2008
    Three of us are in on the culls for eating; therefore, all costs and care are split 3 ways.

    Last year, we did not show, but we did take the culls. I let them get a little too big for cooking purposes and the extra feed for a week or two did not warrant doing so - lesson learned.

    My boys and I see it through to the butcherng process and then sell enough to family and friends to cover costs and eat the rest.

    I know there is some mortality rate as experienced last year. I do not know what exact numbers are, but we lost about 4 out of 35 chickens. Mind you we did not get the chickens until they were about 3 weeks old. I am expecting a little higher rate this time.

    I do not know what kind of chickens they are at this point. I should know by Sunday.
     
  5. Rambar Ranch

    Rambar Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2008
    Weimar, TX
    My kids have raised broilers for the last 5 years so I can give you a little insight. You want to start with as high a protein feed you can find to start for the first 2 weeks. Then you want to start lowering the protein and increasing the fat as you go through the following weeks. In our 4-H program we raised for only 6 weeks and we've had many 8 lbs and up.

    We kept a light on 24/7 with feed and water in with them the whole time 24/7. You want to start your chicks up about every 2-3 hours if possible. The more you stir them the more they eat, more they eat the bigger they'll get. As soon as you can sex them pull your hens out and let them grow slower as culls. Do as many suggested here and continually raise your feed and water feeders so they have to stand to eat and drink, lessens greatly the leg problems.

    We always raised ours in August for September show in the South texas heat and very rarely lost any doing it this way. When it comes time to pick your birds for show you want to pick 3 bird group that is identical as possible in breast shape size. Your looking for a box shape of the breast. The more closely these match that and match each other the better you'll do. The most important is to have 3 matching birds but the box breast shape is nearly as important.

    Good luck with your birds. Ours were always cornish-X's that everyone received same exact day to start with.

    Ray

    I forgot to add we always had much better growth rates if you can raise them off the ground vs on the ground.
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2008
  6. PoultryScienceAggie

    PoultryScienceAggie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 27, 2008
    College Station, TX
    Here is my advice:

    Keep lights on the 24/7. Also, if you can get multiple alarm clocks and set them to go off every 2-3 hours at night. This will wake them up so they are eating.

    Also, if you can find crushed granite put some feed on top of it. It gives them nutrients.
     
  7. gib

    gib New Egg

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    Sep 24, 2008
    Learning some new things here:

    What is meant by going from protein to fat? In other words, I can find the protein, but what do you mean by fat? Is there a fat percentage on the feed sacks?

    Here is ignorance in full display - how do you go about sexin a chicken? I saw it once a long time ago on ditry jobs, or do I wai until they are older?

    What is meant here, "I forgot to add we always had much better growth rates if you can raise them off the ground vs on the ground." Do you mean like in a raised cage?

    Thank you forthe help.
     
  8. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    To increase fat, I'd add corn, but it's not something I do so others will have to chime in for that.

    As for sexing them, the boys will get bright red combs at about 3-4 weeks old, the girls will have pale combs and be smaller. You'll be able to tell.

    As for the raised cage thing, someone else is going to have to chime in since mine free range.
     
  9. Rambar Ranch

    Rambar Ranch Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2008
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    As far as going from protein to fat I mean check your feed tags. Your starter is always higher protein the one we used was 30% protein but low in fat. After about 2 weeks we'd switch to a grower which was about 22-24% protein but had higher fat content. For the last 2 weeks we'd use a show finisher which runs about 20% protein but high in fat. Like the previous poster said cracked corn added into their feed in the last 2 weeks is a good fat it gives them a nice yellow color under the skin. If you don't give the fat in the last 2 weeks you end up with a bluish color under the skin because their pretty lean.

    We raised them in a horse trailer we have which is 6 X 16 with solid walls up 4 feet then a 2 foot gap with just bars but a total heigh of 7 ft. It has a wooden floor which we put lots of sawdust in and it held 50 birds comfortable and we only went through 4 sacks of sawdust for the 6 weeks. We never could sex them until about 3-4 weeks either and we did it by comb size. The hens comb are definately smaller in size and their body size is always smaller than the roosters. You could even just weigh them and sort out the smallest ones each week. Our roosters weight averages were 8 lbs. but the hens were only about 6-6.5 lbs at the 6 weeks.

    I like the idea of a alarm clock but not sure if that would get them moving and eating. My son would constantly go in and play with them during the day and that really kept them up and eating. The second year we raised he didn't mess with them near as much and it showed up in the weight avg's. We would stir them up before we went to bed about 10-11 pm then again in the morning at 6 am but then as often in the day as we could. Some people get up in the middle of the night to stir them as well but that was just a little more than I wanted to do, lol.

    ray
     
  10. gib

    gib New Egg

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    Sep 24, 2008
    I am relieved about the sexing thing. I like your ideas much better.

    I have already learned several new things especially the repetiton of stirring the chickens up often and changing the feed.

    We will keep them at the school, but I am seriously thinkng about bringing the bigger ones to the house to give more attention.

    Thank you for your help.
     

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