Broiler tips

Feathered_Texans

Songster
Sep 24, 2018
170
435
141
Central Texas
I’ve raised hens for years, but this year I finally decided to raise broilers for my FFA project. I’ve shown rabbits in the past but I’m now to meat birds. If anybody has any tips they would like to share it would be greatly appreciated. It can be about anything. I’d also like to know if any of y’all have ways you get them up while you’re at work or asleep. Do you use a radio or a timer? What height do you put the food, because I’ve seen lots of different opinions. Do you put anything in their food or water, if so what? Do you continually add more bedding every week, if so how much? Literally if you have any tips about anything please share them. Thank you!
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
3,096
5,037
411
North-Central IL
I'm not sure what you mean by get them up. For the first 2 weeks at least, depending upon how hot their climate will be, they'll be under heat lamps, so they'll be awake all the time (well not really, they WILL sleep, but you know). Unless you're planning to use heat plates instead. While they are generally considered the best idea and it's generally considered preferable to give chicks day and night (light and dark) periods like a normal day right from the beginning if possible, I would not necessarily suggest that if you're doing broilers for FFA to show. You want them awake 24/7 at least at first, so they keep eating as often as possible. Otherwise, they'll just get up when it's daylight and sleep when it's dark, you can use a regular light and a timer if it's dark where they'll live.

The bedding is a personal choice, and will depend on your setup. Are you going to use something like a pen or a horse stall? If you can afford to just keep adding shavings on top, aka deep litter, that works out fine. You do want to try to keep them as clean and dry as possible, because once they get a bit bigger they'll get their undersides quite dirty if they have manure to lay on, as they'll lay around a fair bit.

I wouldn't suggest putting anything special in their food and water, maybe a bit of Nutri-Drench when they first arrive if you really want to. You'll probably also want to switch their feed a couple days before the fair, too so that their manure comes out firmer and they're less likely to get themselves dirty again, most people will use scratch grains alone or cracked corn. If you have them where you want them weight-wise well before the show, personally I would cut the feed with corn up to a week ahead. It will give their skin and fat a nice yellow color.

I have an idea of feeding them for maximum growth, but I haven't tried it personally yet as I was kind of winging it with the broilers this year. But next year, I plan to use a very high protein feed for the first two weeks (here I get 28% medicated turkey/gamebird starter) and then blend it down to 20% over the next 5 weeks, and then cut with corn the last week. You can try something like that if you wish, or you can just feed whatever your local stores carry for meatbirds/broilers. Just keep in mind that the biggest gains you're going to get are going to be on the front end, not the back. As in, it's more important to have the highest protein when they're the youngest.
 

Cream and Bob

Chirping
Aug 28, 2019
53
86
64
Only allow them to have 12 hours of feed a day let them have access to grass when you butcher them hang them upside down and cut their throats also to help get the feathers out scold the birds in 145 fahrenheit water for 30 seconds.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
3,096
5,037
411
North-Central IL
Oh, I forgot you asked about feeder height. Obviously, when they're small, you're going to want it on the brooder floor or just very slightly higher. I raise mine as they get larger. I really, really prefer the 36" metal trough feeders with the spinner bar on top. They're deep enough that they can't flip the feed out, I save a lot of wastage by using those. But they're too tall for the first couple weeks. When the birds are tall enough, I put a regular brick under each end to raise it high enough that shavings don't get kicked in.

The regular round, hanging feeders let them bill out a TON of crumble. And they will bill it out for no good reason.
 

jolenesdad

┑( ̄▽ ̄)┍
Project Manager
6 Years
Apr 12, 2015
3,746
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Montgomery, TX
Oh, I forgot you asked about feeder height. Obviously, when they're small, you're going to want it on the brooder floor or just very slightly higher. I raise mine as they get larger. I really, really prefer the 36" metal trough feeders with the spinner bar on top. They're deep enough that they can't flip the feed out, I save a lot of wastage by using those. But they're too tall for the first couple weeks. When the birds are tall enough, I put a regular brick under each end to raise it high enough that shavings don't get kicked in.

The regular round, hanging feeders let them bill out a TON of crumble. And they will bill it out for no good reason.
@Mosey2003 do you have a photo of that feeder or link to where you got it?


OP- broiler shows are all different. Is there a weight you have to get to? And what is the timeline from when you pick them up to when you have to make that weight? That would really help with specific advice...
 

Feathered_Texans

Songster
Sep 24, 2018
170
435
141
Central Texas
@Mosey2003 do you have a photo of that feeder or link to where you got it?


OP- broiler shows are all different. Is there a weight you have to get to? And what is the timeline from when you pick them up to when you have to make that weight? That would really help with specific advice...
I won’t get them until December 21 but I just want to be really prepared. We raise them for 6 weeks and then take them to the county livestock show. I’m pretty sure there is no specific weight. You just want the birds you show to be identical and have lots of meat on them.
 

Feathered_Texans

Songster
Sep 24, 2018
170
435
141
Central Texas
I'm not sure what you mean by get them up. For the first 2 weeks at least, depending upon how hot their climate will be, they'll be under heat lamps, so they'll be awake all the time (well not really, they WILL sleep, but you know). Unless you're planning to use heat plates instead. While they are generally considered the best idea and it's generally considered preferable to give chicks day and night (light and dark) periods like a normal day right from the beginning if possible, I would not necessarily suggest that if you're doing broilers for FFA to show. You want them awake 24/7 at least at first, so they keep eating as often as possible. Otherwise, they'll just get up when it's daylight and sleep when it's dark, you can use a regular light and a timer if it's dark where they'll live.

The bedding is a personal choice, and will depend on your setup. Are you going to use something like a pen or a horse stall? If you can afford to just keep adding shavings on top, aka deep litter, that works out fine. You do want to try to keep them as clean and dry as possible, because once they get a bit bigger they'll get their undersides quite dirty if they have manure to lay on, as they'll lay around a fair bit.

I wouldn't suggest putting anything special in their food and water, maybe a bit of Nutri-Drench when they first arrive if you really want to. You'll probably also want to switch their feed a couple days before the fair, too so that their manure comes out firmer and they're less likely to get themselves dirty again, most people will use scratch grains alone or cracked corn. If you have them where you want them weight-wise well before the show, personally I would cut the feed with corn up to a week ahead. It will give their skin and fat a nice yellow color.

I have an idea of feeding them for maximum growth, but I haven't tried it personally yet as I was kind of winging it with the broilers this year. But next year, I plan to use a very high protein feed for the first two weeks (here I get 28% medicated turkey/gamebird starter) and then blend it down to 20% over the next 5 weeks, and then cut with corn the last week. You can try something like that if you wish, or you can just feed whatever your local stores carry for meatbirds/broilers. Just keep in mind that the biggest gains you're going to get are going to be on the front end, not the back. As in, it's more important to have the highest protein when they're the youngest.
Thank you for your response! I will be keeping them in a Morgan building that we are remodeling to suit their needs. I’m showing them for FFA and many people have told me that you need to go to the coop every few hours to get the chickens to eat some more. Since I have school I cannot be checking on the birds while I’m at school and i was wondering if anyone had ways to do so when you’re not home. I’ve herd of some people doing security cameras with two-way audio.
Thanks for the tips!
 

Parront

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Jul 27, 2017
6,522
27,628
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Prescott, AZ
Thank you for your response! I will be keeping them in a Morgan building that we are remodeling to suit their needs. I’m showing them for FFA and many people have told me that you need to go to the coop every few hours to get the chickens to eat some more. Since I have school I cannot be checking on the birds while I’m at school and i was wondering if anyone had ways to do so when you’re not home. I’ve herd of some people doing security cameras with two-way audio.
Thanks for the tips!
LOL, get them to eat more? Here we are often putting them on a diet to keep them from eating themselves to death too soon! The prize must go to the heaviest in 6 weeks? Full feeders, without crowding or completion for the food and a few extras so you could choose your birds to be as uniform as possible, and to not worry about a few that might die early under that program, seems like the way to go.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 13, 2016
3,096
5,037
411
North-Central IL
@Mosey2003 do you have a photo of that feeder or link to where you got it?
I got it at Rural King, most stores carry them. Like this:
https://www.amazon.com/Farm-Tuff-064037-Galvanized-Poultry/dp/B007BVJCG4

I’m showing them for FFA and many people have told me that you need to go to the coop every few hours to get the chickens to eat some more.
That's a bunch of baloney if you ask me. How are you going to get them to eat more, ask them nicely? lol They'll eat all they can hold all by themselves.
 

jolenesdad

┑( ̄▽ ̄)┍
Project Manager
6 Years
Apr 12, 2015
3,746
19,807
792
Montgomery, TX
Here where we are, you are required to start with 50. You feed them a show-grower type feed of 24% protein, and many die along the way.

By getting them up, they may have just purely meant "movement". This will be super important in the early stages. You can provide items in the brooder and pen that they can use to activate their legs a little more. Areas to hop and play, close to the ground. After about 3 weeks, make sure they are not more than 6 inches or so off the ground because of their weight.

With this program, I would also absolutely advise some sort of mineral in the water. EVERY day. Typically you wouldn't want to do this, but it will not matter for the fact that these chickens will not live long enough for them to have any issues processing the extras.

Murray McMurray sells a great Broiler Booster one. In addition, if you can do any sort of fracturing to put them on grass the first few weeks even just when you are home, they'll get more minerals and vitamins and you'll be wanting to do every little thing you can to combat potential leg problems.
 

MANNA-PRO

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