I fed them the budget Purina start & grow, their Country Acres brand. I meant to keep good track of how much they ate but was not very diligent about it. There were also some other chicks eating out of those feed bags & I didn't keep careful accounting. But it seemed they eventually got up to 1/2 a pound of feed each every day when they were eating the most. They also got the grass on the floor of the tractor and other goodies & handouts & leftovers. A very rough estimate would be $15 each in food, does that sound reasonable?
They were kept to themselves so they didn't bother the rest of the laying flock, and they weren't too rough on each other. For a while they kept pulling each other's tail feathers out, and sometimes they'd all gang up on certain individuals. But nothing too bad, they could have behaved worse.
I think one of the best advantages of this assortment was that I didn't have to butcher them all within a short period of time. It was mostly myself & my girlfriend doing the work with little other help. I started with the beefiest ones at about 17 weeks, did them about 4 a week, and just finished the last ones at 24 weeks.
Since I don't have a big freezer I have been slow-simmering them with fresh herbs until the meat melts tenderly off the bones, then picking & separating the light from dark, and vacuum-sealing it for the freezer. There seems to be an equal amount of light & dark meat. It has been great for the way I like to cook with meat, stretching it with vegs, rice, noodles, sauce, etc. Mister would prefer it to be the main attraction & have great big slabs of it roasted & hanging off his plate. But he's going to have to spend a lot more time tending to & butchering chickens if he wants to see that!
The meatiest breeds were the NH Reds, Delawares & Black Stars, also the Buff O's & Black Stars. These RIRs were smaller, and the Americaunas had been picked on the most so they went first. The White Leghorns were the thinnest of all.
Overall, for my purposes, I was pleased with this assortment. This was the first time I had raised so many birds just for meat, instead of the home-hatched roos processed just a few each season. I would like to do it again, timing the order so I'm not standing out in the broiling Florida summer trying to slap mosquitoes with my hands up inside the carcass of a chicken. I'd keep closer track of the amount & cost of feed this time too.
I'm interested to hear of other suggestions for an order of meat birds. Other hatcheries? Ordering only specific breeds? My main criteria would be good feed to meat conversion, easy care, and wide margins of time for butchering. I appreciate your imput.