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Birds to light at seven weeks???

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Gowander, Jun 17, 2016.

  1. Gowander

    Gowander Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2016
    Carmi, BC Canada
    Good day all
    First crack at meat birds and chickens. Currently at seven weeks, butchering in five days.
    Doing some random weigh ins and birds are averaging only five pounds. Oh dear seems light based on readings done on BYC.
    We used a chicken tractor after three weeks moved around and had food in pen all the time. The last two weeks they get let out to roam for two to four hours a day. At night they have been getting a blackout for 12 hours a night.
    I know they are too light because they are too active hmmm. Where did we miss the boat???
    Thanks for all input
     
  2. eviemethugh

    eviemethugh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 14, 2015
    North Carolina
    What % is your protein? What breed are the birds?
    You would be surprised at how much weight they can put on in the last week. But at 8 weeks the 50 Cornish X we did this year on limited feed 16% protein averaged 5.5 lbs dressed. Lowest was like 4.3, and highest was around 7? The next week we did 50 more (9 weeks) and they were about a pound higher all around.
    We let ours free range all the time and kept them in a tractor at night.

    Do you know how much feed you gave them? As long as your feed conversion was good, maybe consider an extra week of feeding them, if that fits into your schedule?
     
  3. Gowander

    Gowander Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2016
    Carmi, BC Canada
    The protein mix was 20% chick starter for first three weeks and then down to 18%
    They are rock Cornish Giants
    Thanks for your input. Our process seems similar to yours, probably not as much free ranging time as we put in pen so they would focus on eating
    I think we might have left in brood to long as are temperatures drop to 0/4C or 32/36F at night
    One thing they sure are happy, but so funny we leave pen door open while ranging and we find half at times sitting in pen after wandering around, pretty content
    I'll do feed conversion to see how it worked out
     
  4. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2013
    I'd say that's about right for 7 weeks. We usually weigh in about 4- 6 lbs around 7 weeks and butcher at 10 weeks and get birds ranging from 5 - 11 lbs on the table.

    That being said, we changed our methodology this year. We free ranged 24/7 at 4 weeks. We switched to Grower / Finisher 24% at 6 weeks and they're weighing in at 6 - 8 lbs at 7 weeks. We planned to butcher this coming Friday at just about 8 weeks - we purposely didn't want to go to 10 weeks again. We're hoping for a healthier, better tasting product due to the free ranging and earlier butchered age.

    I will say this - the free ranging has changed this year's crop in several ways. The SMELL. It's not nearly as bad as it was in past years. Their legs are MUCH stronger. They are able to walk around the 40 x 40 foot paddock easily despite their large size. They aren't sitting in their waste so their breast feathers are clean.
     
  5. Gowander

    Gowander Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2016
    Carmi, BC Canada
    Well yesterday was the day and all went well!!
    We took our birds into be butchered and was good. we goto an gov't inspected facility and inspector was good with the way we transported flock.
    Couple notes
    -transport must be right size, and birds must be snuggish, too much room and they will roll around and become quite the mess
    -air flow a must, inspector gave another grower a warning not to use his utility trailer too much room and not enough airflow
    So that was transport, we actually travelled over two hours and birds looked good, it was early and cool morning, we did keep them covered so that they were a bit calmer, with a tarp.

    I think we were light as follows
    -we grew 25 Cornish rock giants, none lost and all passed inspection
    -average bird weight 4.25 lbs
    -smallest 3.22 and largest 5.2 lbs
    -estimated feed conversion, 3.3lbs food per pound of bird, seems high
    -estimated cost per lb was 3.75 cdn

    that was our first try at these birds, all in all was a positive go!!!

    Any thoughts out there ????
     
  6. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2013
    Cost to feed per bird sounds about right. How much did it cost you to butcher? Have you thought about butchering yourself instead of paying someone? What type of feed did you use? Did you start with a medicated feed? Did you end with a finisher feed? Did you free range? How did you feed, 12 hours on 12 hours off or constant feed supply? Where was the water source for the birds? Did you tractor them and move them every day? Did you consider going longer than 7 weeks?

    After this experience will you go with CXs again or will you try a different breed?

    I'd say for a first try, you did great! I hope it was a positive experience and you'll do it again.

    We butcher tomorrow so I don't have numbers for you but in past years we've averaged about $3/lb in costs (that's dressed weight). That included the cost of feed, supplies for butchering (we butcher ourselves) and packaging. We don't include the cost of fencing, housing, feeders/waterers. I'm hoping this year it will be less since we had them free ranging - but we invested a serious amount of money into new automatic feeders, electric fencing, new housing, etc. Of course we will be using all these things again next year and actually can use them for our other poultry and probably will.

    Here are our free ranging broilers. CXs. We guesstimate the roosters are weighing in around 8 - 10 lbs right now. They are just under 8 weeks. It's deceiving though, because so much of that is internals that get disposed of. We play "guess that weight" and the loser has to clean gut buckets. We both lose every time.
    [​IMG]

    We started out with 30 and lost 4 already - our highest loss ever. We've only ever lost one and most years we don't lose any so this year has been particularly devastating. Still, if we average 5lbs/meat per bird it will cost us $1.14 per lb. That includes feed and the cost of each bird, including those we lost.
    Here's the breakdown:

    $109 in feed
    $37.5 for day old chicks
    $5.65 per bird final cost (26 birds)

    The real savings is if we get 5lb of meat per bird. Raising CXs makes that possible because their breasts are so big. Last year we averaged 2.75 lb in breast meat per bird. Legs/Thighs/Wings (bones included because we don't debone these) added the other 2.25 lbs. So it's possible. I'll give you final numbers after we butcher.
     
  7. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2013
    We butchered our 26 this morning. The smallest bird was 4.25lb and largest was 6.9lb. 5 birds were under 5lbs. 7 were over 6 lbs and the rest were between 5 and 6 lbs with the average being 5.75lbs. So we're saying the average is 5.75 lbs, the cost is $.98lb.

    It took us 3.5 hours to butcher all 26 including cleanup. Two people dispatching, plucking and eviscerating. One person cleaning and parting. One person babysitting the kids. We all cleaned up. All the meat is resting for 36 hours and we'll package tomorrow.
     
  8. Gowander

    Gowander Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 22, 2016
    Carmi, BC Canada
    So cool really appreciated the details as to your process and results.

    We started 20% chick medicated and then at three weeks switched to 18% grower. We kept birds in brood till four weeks as we still had frost at night. Moved them out during day and back in at night a bit of work lol

    Then in tractor out side, each day we let them roam our yard and back in tractor at night. Food and water available all the time even all night

    Great fun and planning next round in a month. Same breed as they were not that bad. Read your butcher day post and if we could get close to your weights we'd be some happy people[​IMG]

    We will look at butchering ourselves down road maybe. But for now just use our friend.

    Reading your process we will just tighten up our feeding times and maybe add a week or two to process.

    All in all a lot of fun

    What do you do with the remains etc. Bury them?
     
  9. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2013
    Try using Grower / Finisher the last two weeks - then butcher at 8 weeks. You'll have better weights.
    We rented a plucker from a local CSA - the added cost $50. With that cost into our total cost, we're looking at $1.30/lb. It's well worth it. We can pluck 2 birds at a time in 45 seconds. Makes it go fast. My husband and his uncle are pros at eviscerating. I do all the cleaning, parting, weighing, etc. It goes fast when you have alot of hands. We feed everyone lunch as an incentive.

    We dig a big hole with the tractor before we start. We clean cut heads instead of cutting the jugular (more humane in our opinion) and the birds are secured so there's no movement, thus no damage to wings. We pluck and eviscerate right there on top of tarps. Everything goes into the big hole and gets covered with about three feet of dirt. We keep carcasses for stock.
     
  10. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2013
    BTW, consider an electric netting fence - then you don't have to get everyone back into the tractor at night. We built a shelter and the birds came and went as they pleased. 5 weeks out in the open. We just moved the shelter around so the birds didn't build up waste in one spot. We too had frost at night so we couldn't keep birds out until 4 weeks old.

    Oh, and consider an automatic feeder that prevents wasting feed. You'll save in feed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2016

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