Cheap Cheeps -

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Bailey, May 23, 2007.

  1. Bailey

    Bailey Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    May 20, 2007
    Weaubleau, MO
    I'm the guy at the auctions who buys the unopened boxes- love surprises... I might get something worth keeping... I have 27 heavy pullets - 7 Buff Oprs, a bunch of red and white ones, some red ones, some black ones- a white Rock? Some hawk looking things and some aracunas- they have eye tufts- I'll see as they mature. But, it's fun seeing which ones will be best for my "operaion". (Sounds like I know what I'm doing doesn't it? [​IMG] )

    Cackle Hatchery has what they call a "Frypan Special" http://www.cacklehatchery.com/page10.html
    I'm not on the payroll nor do I have a stake with these folks- just heard a lot of good things about them locally.

    They're close by and 100 chicks for about a quarter apiece doesn't sound too Bad or the "Heavy Breeds" for a dime more -
    So here's the questions-

    1 If I get the cheapies and feed them broiler mix - is this "False Economy"?
    I realize I won't get the same results as with the special meat birds- but my frugal side says if I can buy 4 or 6 for the price of one of the specialists I should be that much ahead. Since the non-meat breed birds won't just sit and pig out I should save a bit on feed. I realize the expense is the feed but the cost of the bird has to figure in there somewhere...

    2 Do I need to use a special broiler mix or can I just add protien to chick starter?

    3 If I do feed the chicks broiler grower will it damage the pullets if I leave them on the high protien mix for the first couple of weeks? What is the problem with growing them too fast?

    4 Can I take the "fast started" pullets out and raise them to be layers?


    I supplement the layers with "free protien"- fly traps, crickets, worms, whey and whatever else they catch- They free range - I keep them locked up until they give up the goods then let them out and feed them a hot mash- layer mix - pureed kitchen scraps (peels, sprouts veggies) and milk or water. I realize this drops the overall protien content but, in side by side tests they prefer the veggie mash- and I have 3 layers( they cost fifty cents each) that give me 20 eggs a week and have since early March... They did drop off to 16 @ week over the winter but, were going great guns from Sept till Dec.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2007
  2. Bailey

    Bailey Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    May 20, 2007
    Weaubleau, MO
    Well the response has been underwhelming [​IMG]
    I'll use this topic to post my experience with this little experiment.

    My son and I split a "Frypan Special" ... He made it home with 108 birds. One was deformed and destroyed, leaving 102 cockerels plus 5 exotics as a bonus.

    We placed them into our brooder- a 45"x45"x18" packing crate covered with a heavy mesh gate and insulating blanket.
    Inside we have two feeders and a gallon waterer- currently containing 1 gal water and 2 tablespoons of sugar.
    Heat is being supplied by a 300 watt halogen lamp that can be adjusted for height above the floor on vertical axis and rotated 90 degrees - straight down to horizontal. There is also a reflector lamp with a 100 watt bulb to be used when the 300 watt is too much heat
    The floor is covered with bright wheatstraw.
    The outside temp is 62 .
    Brooder temp- 100 directly below the lamp to 85 in opposite uncovered corner.
    The top is 80% covered. 90% of the birds are distributed in the 90 degree area between the feeders and waterer.
    They are eating and drinking well.
    They are being fed 27% gamebird starter as the local feed store did not have a non-medicated starter.

    These birds will remain in the brooder for a few days- due to wet weather then be moved out onto grass.
    More on that when it develops-

    It has been my experience-(so far ) that chicks are resilient little animals; They are hardwired to survive and will, provided they have plenty of clean water and are allowed to eat the things big chickens do- I've lost 2 out of 55 chicks ( in 2 batches) that were not due to predation.

    I'm certainly no expert. this is only my third crop of chicks* and my first attempt at raising meat birds. I've read and talked with a friend regarding caponizing - We'll see where this goes as the weeks pass.

    If you have any insight, experience etc you'd care to share I'm certainly interested.

    * Actually early last June, I did purchase 25 one-week-old chicks from a relative of a friend-( young family- needed some cash- sure Mr Nice Guy) and 8 died before I got them home. I returned the others and he had piles of dead chicks- he lost all 200 within a few days.
    I sterilized everything with bleach- including the truck, my shoes, my body- and still lost two chicks of my own within a week- Moved my chicks to a new pen that was strictly off limits to visitors and sterilized everything the chicks had been in contact with.
     
  3. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    Glad your birds are doing well. Do you plan to move them out to grass before 3 weeks? I would think they would do best if they had most of their feathers.
     
  4. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    5,719
    43
    283
    May 8, 2007
    Wisconsin
    I think you should definitely keep track of your feed costs, so you can decide if you want to do this again. People raise broilers, slow growing broilers and heavies. They all have pros and cons.

    In books, they say it's better to go with broiler chicks, because of the cost of feed. In your case, though, you'll be cutting your feeding costs with their foraging and heavy breeds are much better foragers. You'll certainly have much healthier and robust birds, compared to broilers, too. Some people like a slower growing bird for better flavor and a firmer meat. Others like them quick and extra tender.

    The one part I'm a little confused about, is your moving them outside. How old will they be and what will their outdoor housing be like? If they won't be feathered out, yet, will it have a heat lamp and draft shield added? What are your outdoor temps like at the moment? It's everything from a little cool to sweltering right now, depending on the part of the country you're in and that can make a big difference.

    I hope you post updates, as this project moves along. I think it will be interesting.

    Edited to add, I'm sorry about the trouble in June.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    To get any meat on heavies, you have to feed them for about 2 months longer than the cornish and individual dressing of the birds is alot more work for the same amount of meat. I say just do it and record the amout of feed and time it takes for those 100 birds. Then record the lbs of meat you get from them. ( I would raise these to be about 4 months old)

    Then raise up some cornish, (for the same amout of meat, I'd do one cornish per 5 of the heavies), and dress them out at 8 weeks. They will be about 6 lbs dressed each.

    I just dressed 2, 4 month old medium sized birds and they weighed a total of 1.5 lbs each.
    At the same time I dressed out 4 cornish at 7 weeks, each about 5-6 lbs.

    Do both and see how it goes for you.

    Personally If I wanted meat, don't bother with the heavies, they start fighing too before they are ready for butcher.
     
  6. Bailey

    Bailey Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    May 20, 2007
    Weaubleau, MO
    Thanks for the responses [​IMG]
    I apologize for the dearth of photos- I had some "assistance" with my camera- it no longer works... [​IMG]

    In books, they say it's better to go with broiler chicks, because of the cost of feed. In your case, though, you'll be cutting your feeding costs with their foraging and heavy breeds are much better foragers.

    I could see where the feed cost would be the fly in the ointment if I were keeping them confined with no access to forage. If we give them scratch, greens and protien from insects, meat scraps and vegtable sources, it seems they'll do ok.
    I talk to a lot of old folks who farmed or were raised during the Depression. The barnyard flock was the responsibility of the farm women. They were depending on their flocks for food, feathers and income. So they had raising chickens down to an art.
    There are some "tricks of the trade" that have seen their day pass- feeding layers a hot mash made with the dishwater is not a good idea in this era of perfumed detergents vs plain soap. They fed what they could afford, paid attention and pretty much followed the chicken's lead.


    Currently the daytime temps are in the mid 70's nights are running in the low 60's. Main problem is rain... lotsa rain.
    I'll move them out in a couple of days, they'll be in a "Solar Brooder and on grass in the sunshine at 3 days -

    I mow off an area and build a foundation out of cinderblocks, slightly longer than a patio door I have . The door is the solar part. On very hot days I cover it with a tarp and open the ends for airflow. If it gets really cold, quartz halogen lights can be placed topside to warm the interior.
    I leave 18" open - wire covered and secured -snake proof- this provides fresh air and access to feed and water. I have a plywood panel with a light to add extra heat if needed- We first used this set-up last year then again in March- nights in the 40's days in low 60's. They'll stay in their mini-greenhouse for a couple weeks- We move the end wall as needed to keep them on clean grass and out of the mud and poo-

    After a couple of weeks they'll move into the converted round bale feeder more on that later

    Silkie-
    Thanks for the hard info- I'll certainly keep track of expenses
    I hadn't realized a 4 month turn around but that will work out as far as the gardens go- ( make lemonade-right?)
    The key is going to be free / low cost feed​
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2007
  7. Bailey

    Bailey Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    May 20, 2007
    Weaubleau, MO
    Saturday Nite- Time for some excitement [​IMG]

    The current count is 103 lost 4 over the past 9 days.

    They were 2 breeds -
    I lost 2 "black sex-linked" and two yellow/white -
    They were pretty smashed up by the time we found them-+

    I blame the fact we just now got them out onto grass

    WoodlandWoman wrote:
    The one part I'm a little confused about, is your moving them outside. How old will they be and what will their outdoor housing be like? If they won't be feathered out, yet, will it have a heat lamp and draft shield added? What are your outdoor temps like at the moment? It's everything from a little cool to sweltering right now, depending on the part of the country you're in and that can make a big difference.

    Here's what we moved them into-

    8' diameter "roundbale feeder"
    This is a framework livestock folks put around those 1000 lb round bales so the cows & horses have to stick their heads in to eat they can't just stomp the hay into the ground- Mine is solid for the first 24" then has maybe 6 (never counted) bars that run up diagionally to an 8' ring 24" away. Picture a cylinder 4' tall 8' in dia. half solid half framework ok...
    I wrapped the framework in chicken wire- attached with "zip-ties". My feeder is old and rusty so I had places to slip a zip-tie under the solid part.
    I wrapped the whole shebang with a 4'x25' advertizing banner.
    Then I flipped it over- the open part is now on the ground. The banner can be pulled up for ventilation.
    I threw a 10x10 tarp over the top and secured this with the side ring off a $-store swimming pool- it's a vinyl ring 8' in dia.
    There are reinforcement straps inside and we use them to string chain accross the structure and hang our lights , feeders, waterers etc.

    Additional security is provided by a run of electrified chicken wire , yard lights and Bubba - he LIKES fence fried 'possum [​IMG]

    Nothing earthshaking to report this first week-

    Mortality was due to too many chicks in too small space-
    The rains kept us from moving them out Monday as we had planned-

    Before you increase from a few- say 25 birds to 100 at a time- bear in mind
    they grow fast-make sure you have adequate space to keep them in all phases of growth.
    They eat a lot and drink a lot- have plenty of feeders and waterers- or you'll be spending your time doing room service.

    Thanks for your feedback-​
     
  8. Bailey

    Bailey Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    May 20, 2007
    Weaubleau, MO
    Sat Morn- Count- 103 [​IMG]

    Temp's been in the 80's in the afternoons and 60's at night.
    We're moving their pen daily now will move them into larger tractor in a couple of weeks- they're living in 50 ft2 and will soon need more room.

    I have noticed aggressive behavior amongst the little beasties- it looks like a jr high football team with all the chest banging / pushing contests [​IMG] I may have to separate them into non combative units.

    We've identified some of the exotics- have a grey and white polish, some little speckeled guy with a mohawk and a very sedate grey feather-footed chap who seems put out to be in such close contact with all the riff-raff.

    The chicks are on fresh grass daily- plenty of water with cider vinegar @ tsp/gal. They have unlimited gamebird starter (27% protien) and we've started them on maggots- (60% protien-20% fat) so far about a cup scattered on the ground - they don't last long-

    As an aside, we have fewer flies around the house and animal areas since we've been actively baiting & harvesting the flies.
    I've been researching the matter and will experiment with drying them to use as a protien supplement this winter. Any firsthand info on this would be appreciated

    Thanks-
     
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2007
  9. Bailey

    Bailey Out Of The Brooder

    35
    0
    22
    May 20, 2007
    Weaubleau, MO
    6/28/07
    Count 103
    We've expanded the pen to 100' of 3' chickenwire-I run it around the round bale feeder, around trees, drive some fence posts and use fiberglass electric fence rods- The thing moves amoeba-like accross the yard- keeping them in clean grass. I move their "house" ( the round bale feeder)- daily and fence out the heavily manured area.
    The little guys are doing better with more space- less aggressive behavior- they're getting feathered out nicely. Feed intake is increasing- I've added an 8' section of rain gutter as a feeding trough and an extra 5 gallon waterer.

    Currently their diet consists of:
    Fresh "pasture"-
    Game Bird Grower- (Keep feeders 1/2 full)
    Wild bird seed
    Resturant scraps -
    Garden scraps
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2007
  10. wallace

    wallace Out Of The Brooder

    19
    0
    22
    Apr 17, 2007
    If you don't mind me asking - how are you "baiting and harvesting" flies? Is this how you're getting maggots?
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by