Chronicles of Raising Meat Birds - Modern Broilers, Heritage and Hybrids

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
2,377
9,045
562
Montgomery, TX
Here’s my latest update for the last couple of months....

8 week Delaware Robust Crosses - 3 lbs (not bad!)
5 week Imperials - 3.5 lbs switching to a slightly lower protein feed from here on out

I hatched out 5 eggs from the Delaware cockerel I had over the Robust Whites. They are 8 and 9 weeks old. I also ordered 50 Imperial Broiler females that are now 5 weeks old. They sent 57 and all but 1 survived the shipment in the middle of December. It got stuck on the outside of an insert in the box. So about 60 birds in this batch.

I rehomed my entire “breeder” flock of meat birds over Christmas to a family looking to be more self sufficient. That was all my Delaware pullets, the Delaware cockerel and the robust white meat birds. I was not into limiting their feed when I have so many birds to deal with, and they were just too large to be free feeding. They were great but with my space now and moving soon I didn’t really want to dedicate much to the work other than just building my mixed layer flock and my freezer. :)

I’ve held back a few Imperials to watch them grow out fully and imagine I’ll experiment with them once I move. I’m growing out some marans that are supposed to have some utility but I’m also thinking of hatching out from a line of those über-utility barred rocks to cross with Imperials.

The robust white crosses are interesting. Two solid white, the rest with Delaware barring plus lots of black leakage. There is one pullet that is the most Delaware looking but her tail is grey/silver and not black, and it looks like she may have some black leakage. She is also the largest.

I’m very impressed with their growth since they came from the SLOOOOW growing Delaware line cockerel. They are 3 lbs which is heavier than the Dawnridge Delawares I just grew out were at this age. The pullet is the largest of all. Lol. I bet breeding something like these back to Delawares is how the “enhanced broiler” came about from Murray McMurray. When I have more space I can experiment more. For now I’ll eat the boys and keep the one girl

They are definitely more bone than meat versus the Imperial broilers. The Imperial Broilers are all 3.5 pounds on average. From a distance, the Delaware crosses look far bigger than the Imperials, though the Imperials are heavier.

I am battling a coccidiosis outbreak. I don’t believe I did a good job with these meat birds getting grass and soil in the brooder. I did in the brooder, but not the grow out pen. And when I did in their first couple of weeks, it was not from the chicken area of the property.

In addition, I switched feed to a feed mill non gmo feed, but it is essentially a mash. I hate it. I’ve been using large troughs to try and contain it. There’s so much waste as chicks. I think once I let them outside, they brought coccidia inside their pen and because of the picking and choosing of what to eat, and the scattered bits everywhere all the time, the pooping in the dang feeder, coccidia exploded and the rest is history.

I first saw blood in several poops. Only saw one exhibiting symptoms. Started corrid in the water. Day two saw eight exhibiting puffed up and lethargic symptoms. Still saw some poops that were very bloody but not a lot of them. Day three only one or two puffy and lethargic. Day 7 only maybe the slightest blood on a poop and I found absolutely none today. I have cleaned the coop out when this started and doubled the amount of shavings and turn twice a day over the entire floor. ive also switched to a crumble feed that makes me feel better for the whole flock. They definitely leave behind what I assume is all vitamins and minerals from the mash.

Fingers crossed we come out with no losses. (I lost one.... I was cleaning and dropped the pitch fork and scared them and one flipped over and had a heart attack in front of me! :oops:)

they’re down to the preventative dose of corid and I’m hopeful because of how noticeable weight gain should be over the next two weeks, I can tell if we are cured by noticing growth. It’s incredibly hard to identify individual issues with 55 identical birds, but I’m learning my systems and processes for doing so.

they’re out ranging most of the day and doing well, I hope this is just a bump in the Road and not an ongoing process to deal with when it gets wet because we still aren’t out of our “winter”.

I’m struggling with feeders. Got some great ideas from @aart for my laying flock and moving to horizontal nipple waters all around. Still looking for the best way to feed the meat birds that keeps them from wasting and pooping in it. I wonder if my space per bird is still too low.

enough rambles .... here are some photos of the current birds.

what is everyone planning on raising this spring?

Delaware cross boy with imperials
CA4C6492-18C1-4CF1-B6FD-8ECAE86E9C8E.jpeg



imperials
167F737B-F735-4608-B829-65CFAB9A5CAD.jpeg


Delaware cross cockerels and Imperials
1D868602-A402-4D26-B9B3-77B4A7866A1B.jpeg


mixed flock, several red Imperials from last batch, all are laying now.
A3148CEA-6F6D-4C1C-B4CB-3CF8558896B2.jpeg


pullet and cockerel Delaware cross
55764040-4F80-4BB3-B66D-46FAF96D5F72.jpeg


Delaware cross and Imperials with an Opal Legbar in the very back
E69459E7-F1D2-4F8F-9999-BDAD7EEADC79.jpeg
 

Molpet

Crossing the Road
Premium member
Sep 7, 2015
8,324
31,587
922
New Lenox township. Illinois USA
My Coop
My Coop
Here’s my latest update for the last couple of months....

8 week Delaware Robust Crosses - 3 lbs (not bad!)
5 week Imperials - 3.5 lbs switching to a slightly lower protein feed from here on out

I hatched out 5 eggs from the Delaware cockerel I had over the Robust Whites. They are 8 and 9 weeks old. I also ordered 50 Imperial Broiler females that are now 5 weeks old. They sent 57 and all but 1 survived the shipment in the middle of December. It got stuck on the outside of an insert in the box. So about 60 birds in this batch.

I rehomed my entire “breeder” flock of meat birds over Christmas to a family looking to be more self sufficient. That was all my Delaware pullets, the Delaware cockerel and the robust white meat birds. I was not into limiting their feed when I have so many birds to deal with, and they were just too large to be free feeding. They were great but with my space now and moving soon I didn’t really want to dedicate much to the work other than just building my mixed layer flock and my freezer. :)

I’ve held back a few Imperials to watch them grow out fully and imagine I’ll experiment with them once I move. I’m growing out some marans that are supposed to have some utility but I’m also thinking of hatching out from a line of those über-utility barred rocks to cross with Imperials.

The robust white crosses are interesting. Two solid white, the rest with Delaware barring plus lots of black leakage. There is one pullet that is the most Delaware looking but her tail is grey/silver and not black, and it looks like she may have some black leakage. She is also the largest.

I’m very impressed with their growth since they came from the SLOOOOW growing Delaware line cockerel. They are 3 lbs which is heavier than the Dawnridge Delawares I just grew out were at this age. The pullet is the largest of all. Lol. I bet breeding something like these back to Delawares is how the “enhanced broiler” came about from Murray McMurray. When I have more space I can experiment more. For now I’ll eat the boys and keep the one girl

They are definitely more bone than meat versus the Imperial broilers. The Imperial Broilers are all 3.5 pounds on average. From a distance, the Delaware crosses look far bigger than the Imperials, though the Imperials are heavier.

I am battling a coccidiosis outbreak. I don’t believe I did a good job with these meat birds getting grass and soil in the brooder. I did in the brooder, but not the grow out pen. And when I did in their first couple of weeks, it was not from the chicken area of the property.

In addition, I switched feed to a feed mill non gmo feed, but it is essentially a mash. I hate it. I’ve been using large troughs to try and contain it. There’s so much waste as chicks. I think once I let them outside, they brought coccidia inside their pen and because of the picking and choosing of what to eat, and the scattered bits everywhere all the time, the pooping in the dang feeder, coccidia exploded and the rest is history.

I first saw blood in several poops. Only saw one exhibiting symptoms. Started corrid in the water. Day two saw eight exhibiting puffed up and lethargic symptoms. Still saw some poops that were very bloody but not a lot of them. Day three only one or two puffy and lethargic. Day 7 only maybe the slightest blood on a poop and I found absolutely none today. I have cleaned the coop out when this started and doubled the amount of shavings and turn twice a day over the entire floor. ive also switched to a crumble feed that makes me feel better for the whole flock. They definitely leave behind what I assume is all vitamins and minerals from the mash.

Fingers crossed we come out with no losses. (I lost one.... I was cleaning and dropped the pitch fork and scared them and one flipped over and had a heart attack in front of me! :oops:)

they’re down to the preventative dose of corid and I’m hopeful because of how noticeable weight gain should be over the next two weeks, I can tell if we are cured by noticing growth. It’s incredibly hard to identify individual issues with 55 identical birds, but I’m learning my systems and processes for doing so.

they’re out ranging most of the day and doing well, I hope this is just a bump in the Road and not an ongoing process to deal with when it gets wet because we still aren’t out of our “winter”.

I’m struggling with feeders. Got some great ideas from @aart for my laying flock and moving to horizontal nipple waters all around. Still looking for the best way to feed the meat birds that keeps them from wasting and pooping in it. I wonder if my space per bird is still too low.

enough rambles .... here are some photos of the current birds.

what is everyone planning on raising this spring?

Delaware cross boy with imperials
View attachment 2018093


imperials
View attachment 2018094

Delaware cross cockerels and Imperials
View attachment 2018096

mixed flock, several red Imperials from last batch, all are laying now.
View attachment 2018097

pullet and cockerel Delaware cross
View attachment 2018098

Delaware cross and Imperials with an Opal Legbar in the very back
View attachment 2018099
I feel a soaked mash. Lightly fermented. Little waste unless a trough gets dumped
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
5 Years
Apr 9, 2014
2,781
11,296
632
N. California
@jolenesdad. Thanks for the detailed update. I'm glad the cocci situation is improving. I'm really liking the look of those Delaware-Robust White crosses. Good luck on your upcoming move. I can see why you might want to be paring back your flock in advance of that. Are you staying within Texas?

I feel a soaked mash. Lightly fermented. Little waste unless a trough gets dumped
This is what I do as well. I've experimented with different type of containers to hold the wet mash, and I've that plastic guttering, wedged between a couple of cinderblocks or bricks to prevent tip-overs works pretty well for meat birds. Of course they still manage to trample through it with their dirty feet. For only 10 birds or so, a dog dish works well.

Today, I started setting aside eggs for the incubator. I plan on setting 6 or 7 of the Naked Neck over Slow White Broilers, and 3 NN over NN. I should have that together by Thursday or Friday. I'd really like to get a cross where the cockerels get to 4 lbs dressed by around 16 weeks, and the pullets get there by 24 weeks.

Tonight we are roasting up the NN/Lavender Orpington Cross. Fingers crossed it is still reasonably tender.
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
5 Years
Apr 9, 2014
2,781
11,296
632
N. California
Tonight we are roasting up the NN/Lavender Orpington Cross. Fingers crossed it is still reasonably tender.
It turned out very nicely. The texture was firm, but still tender, and very flavorful. My husband really did an outstanding job on the prep. He brined it for several hours in an herb and citrus mixture and then slathered it with fresh garlic before roasting it. We both agreed it would be difficult to go back to the blandness of the supermarket chickens after raising are own.
 

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
2,377
9,045
562
Montgomery, TX
Exciting news! The first litter of pups from the Karakachan breeder I’ve been wait listed for is on the ground, and early personality notes are coming through.

I specifically asked for a temperament-chosen pup that is docile and will make as much of a family dog as guardian. She said it’s not every litter that one of those appears so fingers crossed it’s in this bunch! It’s looking good, the next two weeks or so will be telling. If not, it certainly will in the other breeding they have this year. :fl
 

Kusanar

Crowing
5 Years
Apr 30, 2014
2,218
4,530
336
Roanoke area, Va.
Exciting news! The first litter of pups from the Karakachan breeder I’ve been wait listed for is on the ground, and early personality notes are coming through.

I specifically asked for a temperament-chosen pup that is docile and will make as much of a family dog as guardian. She said it’s not every litter that one of those appears so fingers crossed it’s in this bunch! It’s looking good, the next two weeks or so will be telling. If not, it certainly will in the other breeding they have this year. :fl
Never heard of them before but that's a cool looking dog. Looks like a modified St. Bernard maybe with a bit of Pyr influence.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium member
7 Years
Nov 27, 2012
74,625
81,377
1,607
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
Never heard of them before but that's a cool looking dog. Looks like a modified St. Bernard maybe with a bit of Pyr influence.
They are cool dogs!
"The Karakachan is a breed of dog that originated in Bulgaria as a mountain livestock guardian dog. Other names are Ovcharsko kuche and Thracian Mollos. The dog is named after the Karakachans, Balkan nomadic shepherds."
 

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
2,377
9,045
562
Montgomery, TX
I became a member of the APPPA for pastured poultry producers this year and on the list serv today Jeff Mattocks from Fetrell was talking about crowd feeding in the brooder. I’ve been doing this myself the last few batches and I actually think this must be why my Imperials have had better growth than most of my previous hybrid broilers and even the CC I raised earlier in the year.

the theory goes, and moyers has been talking to me a lot about this, that a broilers eating habits are developed in the first 72 hours. You want them to fill and empty their crops as many times as possible in this time period. If they don’t get a chance to do this, it leads to more runts. (Something I had a fair amount of earlier in the year).

you brood those first days at 1/4 ft per bird and scatter feed on the ground everywhere in addition to the feeders. A chick should not move more than 6 inches without encountering food. Use paper towels in small space or light brown kraft paper without the glossy surface in larger spaces.

the recommendationI keep seeing to people with low growth rates is to tighten them up in the brooder, making sure it’s 4 chicks per foot of square space.
 
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