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Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Want Less, Jan 6, 2013.
Whats the best time of year to get meat chicks?
Anytime from 3 weeks before you want them in the Spring, to 15 weeks before water ices in your area. Pain in the rear to haul water.
I think a lot depends on what type of meat bird you select. Cornish X are the most common but also seem to do the worst in high heat and humidity. If you are in a part of NC that experiences hot and muggy summers, I would go earlier in the spring or wait until fall to avoid the sweltering summer. Kansas, where I live, had a brutal summer last year (like everyone did). I made the mistake of ordering some birds in August. Lost 3 in in the mail and a couple more due to the heat we had. One last bit of advice...if you do order from a hatchery, contact your post office and tell them to expect chicks and to call you so you can pick them up first thing that morning. Even better is to call the postal hub - the bigger city that gets and sorts the mail before it is sent to small town P.O.s and arrange to pick them up there - saves your chicks a day of not having water. Good luck to you!
Depends on your setup and if you want stink inside for a bit or only outside. If you cannot provide a warm, draft free area for a few weeks then wait until the weather warms. If you have somewhere, a barn, heated shed etc then get them when you would like. If you don't mind the stink, you could keep them in a spare room indoors though I don't recommend it for more than a few days.
I ordered a spring batch of Freedom Rangers and a fall batch of Cornish Cross. The FR's did take 12wks to grow out well. The CX we grew to 10wks due to circumstances beyond our control. So take a look at your life plans (vacations, visitors, sports commitments, kids commitments, parents commitments, conferences, work commitments, etc.) and calculate the best week or week and a half for you to spend time processing. Work backwards based on the breed you're hoping to raise. That's when you should order them.
A few additional thoughts are below.
The FR's were very very well insulated for feathers - wasn't very helpful once the weather turned from cool to insta-hot thanks to droughts last year. Never lost one to heat - but spent upwards of 2hrs a day filling waterers the last 3wks of their lives. (Arrived May 16, went to Camp Frigidaire mid July). Processing in the heat wasn't wonderful, but having the cool water to rinse from the hose was great to cool us off! I did add two box fans to provide air movement when Mother Nature didn't. Seemed to help them a lot. Easy to provide. Because of all their feathers, we are STILL finding their feathers in the pens, 10mo out. Loads of feathers.
The CX were remarkably hearty for being in the cool, wet fall we had. While not necessarily very well insulated in feathers, their combined body heat kept them warm despite a severe outbreak of cold weather early. (Arrived end of August, went to Camp Frigidaire first of November). While I didn't spend so much time filling waterers, I did spend a fair amount of time contending with weather-related elements...adding tarps to their tractor to provide a draft-free sleeping area when the temps took a sudden nose-dive the week before Halloween...adding plywood and 2x4 lean-to's to provide dry areas to sit in the yard...adding MORE tarps to provide rain-free spaces. Gee, I guess it rained a lot in October! Processing in the cold was awful - the concrete floor drew the cold right up your legs. Standing on area rugs helped, but mercy, it was cold! And the warm body of the chicken was hard to deal with emotionally (steam rose from their cavity as we worked on them). The hose froze in the midst of our processing, so we had to wait for temps to rise the following day to thaw out the hose! Don't recommend doing that!
I opted out of a summer batch. Glad for it. Was a brutal summer. Hoping for a better one this year! (If I wasn't watering chickens, I was watering the garden! Spent a lot of time worrying about what needed water last year.)
As for your locale - think about being outside for upwards of 2hrs a day taking care of critters...and when do YOU wish to be outside? For if you don't wish to be out there with them, then you'll likely not enjoy their presence. Good luck!
I like to do about three sets in the spring. we are in MN and they seem to do really well in moderate cold with a shelter and heat lamp. Then I do another set in Fall. The Spring chicks grow FAST!!! About 7 weeks to butcher, the Fall seem to take longer (about 9), but eat a bit less. I agree that temperatures over 85 and humid do not seem to go well. Stick with colder rather than warmer, though I find them very, very hardy once started and if the feed is controlled. Good Luck! You won't go back.
I have lost some due to heat but have found, at least the Freedom Ranger to be as resilient as any other breed when it comes to heat. If you have adequate shade for them they do fine in 90+ degree weather. That plus plenty of fresh water.
I was wondering this same thing! We have a small flock of 6 (RIR, EE, BR) and we love having them but we want some for meat now too. We were trying to figure out where we would put the broilers since they grow so fast and it is still very much winter here (with the worst I'm sure yet to come!). We have a small garden shed that is storing stuff for the growing season but with a good organizing, it could be used to house the broilers for the time it takes them to grow out.
Will you be butchering yourself? I made the mistake last year of getting Cornish X a little later in the spring and it was butchering time on July 2nd and it was 100 degrees outside. I will NEVER do that again! It was so hot and smelly. This year I am getting mine mid March and another batch mid August so I can butcher in cooler temperatures.
My husband will be butchering them but he'll most likely do it in the garage which can be a bit cooler. I think we'll get our first batch as soon as we can then the other batch later in the summer if we do well with the first!!