feed conversion, pasturing/tractoring, and a few other questions....

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by gladahmae, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. gladahmae

    gladahmae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We are seriously considering a foray into meat birds this spring, and possibly a 2nd batch in the fall. However, I have a few questions that, from my searches, aren't completely answered for me.

    Feed conversion-wise, is seems the 'cornish x' is the best bang for your buck. Yes? And the red/black broilers are essentially the same thing as rainbow or freedom rangers? What is the feed conversion average for the broilers?

    Does pasturing/tractoring meat birds offer any real savings when it comes to feed conversion? If it in fact, DOES offer savings,
    I'd like to tractor them, but if CXs are just going to sit around, building and moving a tractor would be a waste of time and resources.

    How do you store feed if you purchase in bulk? The closest grain elevator/bulk feed store is 80min away (one way) so multiple trips would not be a cost-efficient way to do that. Plastic barrels? Trash cans? I'm trying to imagine how to store 1000+ lbs of food for a backyard chicken raiser.
     
  2. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Deciding which to grow out - CX or FR or a Red Broiler depends on what you're looking for. I highly recommend growing some of each to see what works best for your family. We grew FR for the first time last spring and CX for the first time last fall.

    Feed conversion rate is generally better for the CX simply because of the way they grow. If you grow them as long as a FR, then no, the conversion rate isn't so good. We grew our CX to 10wks and in the cold, so I know they ate more than 'supposed' to - but they needed the feed for body heat!

    Pasturing was beneficial for the FR's; not so much for the CX. Yes, they did forage, but not nearly as effectively as the FR. Was it weather related? Perhaps. Unless I repeat the experiments, I won't know. We built a PVC tractor for ours and yes, it worked great for 25 birds until they were about 6wks old. Then, I had to move it too frequently to make it worthwhile. We had a seperate run from our layers, so they were in the run, in the tractor - so they had the locked up secure tractor at night and the run during the day.

    As for storing feed in bulk, I store 400lbs in a secure barn - just in 5gal plastic tubs (drywall tubs with click-down lids). I can fit 25#'s in one plastic tub, so yes, this is a stack of tubs.
     
  3. delisha

    delisha Overrun With Chickens

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    Honestly it all depends on the quality of birds. I have purchased 25 CornishX and 150 lbs of feed and butchered out at 6 weeks. I had 5-6lb birds average They free ranged on a 1/4 acre of grasses that included, clover, kale, Oregano, and Spinach. I did not tractor. They are always hungry and if started as chicks they forage for bugs, and eat the grasses well.I ferment my feed, and that kept them from smelling and having loose stools. At 3 weeks I was not free feeding. I was feeding twice a day. Afternoon and evenings lock ups. I have done it other times and had to use twice the feed and the chicks did not weigh as much. Weather and quality was a factor.
    Weather has a lot to do with it. They do not do well in heat or cold, and dry weather effects the quality of my grasses.I have been raising cornish since 1985. I still have cross breeds from my original stock that I bred to RIR's and Bars. I still purchase 25 chicks a year for large breast meat.
    I think all the suggestions are good, and you are ahead of the game by asking.
    As a sugestion:
    1. Have a large enough building that is easy to clean.
    2. Put up a temporary fence
    3. Plant Kale, Red clovers, Spinach, Oregano
    4. Order your birds and pick up feed ..I store100 lbs of dry feed in a garbage can and start ferment a 1/4 bag of 50lbs in a plastic garbage can, 2 days before arival of chicks. The first bag lasts a long time. I free fed fermented feed for the first week. They were out on the ground second week.
    [​IMG]

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    3 weeks old and free ranging
     
  4. gladahmae

    gladahmae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2012
    Benzie, MI
    We've got a good amount of chainlink and the posts/rails that go with it, so I'm strongly considering building a tractor out of THAT after a thread I saw in the coops section. (and of course, hardware cloth over the sides) I'd put a shelter in/on it, and the birds would probably basically stay in the tractor 24/7 until butchering. We do have the space to plant forage for them.....I was leaning toward clover, legumes, etc. since those are easy to find mixes. We wouldn't get birds until April, which would put butchering right before July and hopefully the bad heat of the summer. We'll probably get 50 to start with if BIL, my parents, and other relatives are interested in paying for feed and the cost of the chicks and processing.
     
  5. delisha

    delisha Overrun With Chickens

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    April would be good. You might not have to heat new chicks in April but for a week depending on your weather. Got to be careful with 50. if they get cold you need heat. They will smother each other to keep warm. Housing at night in a safe tractor should work. If you are close to a Menards they have spinach seed and Oregano for .05 pack. You would not need but a few packs. They really benifit from Spinach and Oregano.
     
  6. Eroc1_1

    Eroc1_1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I raised some CX, for the first time, this fall. Because I got them in October, they were inside with heat lamps the whole time. They were processed at 8 weeks with an average dressed weight of 5.7 lbs. I am thinking that the feed conversion wasn't great because they were also trying to keep warm. Lesson learned in more ways than one.

    I wanted to try chicken tractors this year for meat birds. I would like to raise 3 groups of 50-75 birds at a time. I was also hoping to throw in a few birds(like Delawares??) that grow fairly quick but are more likely to forage, be more active, and consume less feed. Would an 8'x8' tractor be an acceptable size for 50 birds?
     
  7. gladahmae

    gladahmae Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 17, 2012
    Benzie, MI
    I drive past menards on my way to and from work, 5 days a week. [​IMG]

    Since you're in WI, I'm sure you know the kinds of temp swings we get in this region in the spring. It's nothing for us to have 60-70deg days and mid-20s nights in April (and sadly May, like last year). Good to know about the smothering. The most chicks I've brooded at one time so far is 12, and that was indoors, so smothering wasn't too much of an issue.
     
  8. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    suburbia Chicagoland
    I've found for brooding, the best heater is a Brinsea Ecoglow 50. I easily kept 25 broilers (both FR and CX) happy under that until 3wks old. Yes, it's a bit of added expense, but I know how many times a year I'm brooding someone, so the overall cost is minimal if used often! I'm in northern IL, so not that far from you in terms of weather. I didn't have piling issues with 25, but I've never tried to raise 50 - good luck! That's a whole lot of Camp Frigidaire space!
     
  9. delisha

    delisha Overrun With Chickens

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    I purchased an Eco Glow too. I don't like it. They will pile up on top of each other under that too if the weather is cold. It works in the house and in weather that is at least 50-60. If it drops below 50 it is useless and you have dead chicks.
    I do like it for other breeds. They do not have the same pile up on top tendencys and heavy body weights to smother each other that Cornish have.
     
  10. delisha

    delisha Overrun With Chickens

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    Oct 13, 2012
    Racine, WI -
    My Coop
    I would never put another breed in with Cornish in a tractor. But having dels are a wonderful choice. I can't stress enough that Cornish X's forage well. They will find every bug, grass, and piece of food they can find if they are encouraged to do so at a young age. Plant good eatable plants in the area you are planning to use for them.
    and no 8x8 in my opinion is not large enough. Maybe for 25 birds but that is pushing it at 6 weeks of age. If you raised them before... you know those birds are huge and need space.
     

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