Contemplating raising meat birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Doebob, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. Doebob

    Doebob Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2017
    I am thinking about possibly raising meat birds next spring. This is my first year with layers so hopefully by next spring I will have had enough experience to be ready for meat birds. My question is how many meat birds would feed a family of 5 for a year? I know that birds are hatched continuously throughout spring (not sure if it is all year, though) so I could possibly have a couple of batches if I do it right. My husband and I have about a 1/8 of an acre dedicated to my chicken adventures. I do not want to overwhelm the space between my currently planned 10 layers amd my meat birds. Advice for a newbie would be greatly apprectiated. Thanks in advance.
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    It's a hard question to answer. How often do you plan to eat chicken? Will you raise them up and process them young - like 6-8 weeks - in order to be fryers? Or bigger to be roasters? My wife and I prefer roasting them. We raise them a little slower and get them up to about 12 pounds live weight. That makes for a big processed chicken. When we cook one we eat on that bird for a good part of a week. The initial meal of the roasted chicken. Then just eat off of the remaining meat - and there's a lot, and finally chicken soup. So, we eat about a chicken a month so for us - we get by with 12-15 chickens per year.
    You are correct - meat birds (Cornish Cross at least) are available pretty much throughout the year. You could try out a few this spring, see how it goes, and if the raising and processing goes well....see how fast your family is eating them up and then get more in the fall.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2017
    1 person likes this.
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Great advice from redsoxs. I occasionally buy 10 broiler chicks but I don't do it with the objective of having a constant supply. As redsoxs suggests, you can start small and see to what extent a small batch will meet your needs. I guess factoring in dressing the chickens is something to consider also.
  4. Doebob

    Doebob Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2017
    Thank you both for the information. There is buutcher nearby who will process the chickens. That is not my worry. I am still doing a lot of research belfore going ahead and deciding on anything. I thought about raising them to about 8-10 weeks old before processing. My family doesnt like the.meat on the bone so i might get them fully processed to breast, wing and thigh. I am going to start with just a few to be raised with my layers and see how it goes.
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I agree, the best way is to get a few and try it, see how it goes. We are all unique, we’ll all have different answers to all of this. I don’t raise the meaties, I use dual purpose that I normally hatch myself. With visiting my grandkids and other things, I need to hatch about 45 a year to eat one chicken a week. But I also eat a lot of pullets since I hatch a lot of pullets. Some people sell the pullets and just eat the cockerels, they would need to hatch a lot more than I do. Or if you’re like Redsoxs you can get by with a lot less.

    If you haven’t considered it, how are you going to preserve them? If by freezing, how much freezer space do you need? With my garden and orchard, freezer space is often at a premium here. I also save the carcasses for broth so I need even more space. It’s beneficial to me to butcher several different times a year. Especially if you are going boneless, you could pressure can instead of freezing, but that will limit how you serve it.

    There are a lot of things to consider and you will never think of them all ahead of time. There is a learning curve to figuring out what works best for you. So start small and jump on the curve. Good luck!
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    Start slow. Go with 10-12 for your first batch. That will let you decide if it's worth it to you to raise them, cost wise and time wise.

    Something else to keep in mind is storage space. Even if you get them parted out, they still take up a decent amount of freezer space.
  7. Doebob

    Doebob Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2017
    I am not too worried about space. I have an old chest freezer that still works that we will be replacing. I will probably be hijacking that for my meaties. I think with the space, i probably will start with 10-15.
  8. LilJagsFarm

    LilJagsFarm Just Hatched

    Dec 9, 2016
    We took the plunge into raising meat birds last year and couldn't be happier. There are 5 of us in the family that eat chicken 3 of which are growing boys. We started with 12 last spring, 10 of which made it to butcher weight. We decided to piece them rather than leave them whole. This worked great, and allowed us to choose each person's favorite pieces for most meals. We eat at least one meal of chicken a week, most of the time it's more often than that. Those 10 that made it to the freezer lasted us roughly 3 months. This year the plan is to do 2 batches with the first one being 25 birds that we pick up in a week.

    The boys can tell when it's store bought vs those we raised at home. The plan is to always have home raised chicken in the freezer since "that store chicken is gross" in the words of our youngest. My guess is that we will end up raising 40-50 total this year. It's safe to say that we will be raising meat birds for quite some time to come.

    Good luck if you decide to take the plunge.
  9. Doebob

    Doebob Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 26, 2017
    @LilJagsFarm - Thank you for the info. It is extremely helpful. I think I have decided to do this probably next Spring. I have a starter coop that I will be raising my girls in after they feather out as I make my big shed into a larger coop. I will be waiting until that is done so I have housing for the others. I plan on starting with 10-15 and will provably go from there. We have 4 adults in the house so we eill see how long the meat lasts us.

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