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feeding dual purpose birds???

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by AHappychick, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. AHappychick

    AHappychick Wanna-be Farmer

    Dec 16, 2008
    ok I am pretty sure I can tell my cockerels from my pullets they are about 4 weeks old. I should put the ones that will be processed in a separate brooder now and give them broiler crumbles right? I would have liked to start them on the broiler crumbles from day one but since I was unable to sex them I kept them all on starter feed. I am thinking they should be ready for processing by 10 more weeks right?
  2. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    What breed are your birds? Cornish X need a special high-protein feed. But most "dual purpose" birds it doesn't matter so much.

    I feed all my dual purpose birds (Buff Orpingtons) the same feed -- layer feed. I start chicks on it too -- they eat the tiny bits, the big birds eat the big bits. Makes things much easier.
    A lot of people might think this is not the "correct" thing to do, but the layer feed has plenty of protein etc in it for the roosters too. Since I butcher my roosters at 6 months, I don't worry that they might be getting too much calcium. I also free-range my birds, so they are getting lots of other food (seeds, bugs, greens) in addition to their layer feed. In 3 years, I've never had any problems with my layers or my roosters fattening up.

    The only time I changed my feed was for the last 2 months for my heritage turkeys -- they got a higher protein feed to fatten them for Thanksgiving.
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Same here...laying mash from day one! [​IMG]
  4. shelleyb1969

    shelleyb1969 Star Bright Farm

    I start my chicks out with starter crumbles, and at 2 weeks I give them a grower mash additional to the crumbles. Once they've feathered out, I put them on layer mash. That's just what's always worked best with mine. I had 3 barred rock roos that I processed at 16 weeks...the first dual purpose chickens I ever had. They were horrible...I guess I processed them waaaayyyy too early. [​IMG] I've got a group of Delaware cockerels, 7 weeks old today, that I want to try next. But they've already got some pretty broad breasts on them and look 100 times meatier at this age than my BRs did. What you need to feed them depends on what kind they are...IMO. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2009
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    The best advice you can get will probably come from those people who make your feed.

    Most of them will say for dual purpose-types:

    Broilers, 0 to 4 weeks, Starter
    4 to 8 weeks, Grower

    Pullets, 0 to 4 weeks, Starter
    4 to 12 weeks, Grower
    12 to 22 weeks, Developer
    Laying > 22 weeks, Layer

    Many of us do not have Developer available but that step isn't considered of great importance and those pullets can be left on Grower. Feeding Layer to chicks or growing poultry, with its high calcium level, "may cause growth problems, kidney damage, or death." Further, Layer feed has significantly lower protein content than Grower. Poultry Science, Auburn University

  6. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    Quote:What was "horrible" about them? Their size?
    On my farm, I wouldn't butcher a roo before 5 - 6 months if they're not broiler types (Cornish X) just so they have some nice size to them. On the other hand, a BR is never going to look like a Cornish X ever in terms of a meaty breast. But Cornish X taste bland too, so I'd stick with your cockerals.
  7. shelleyb1969

    shelleyb1969 Star Bright Farm

    The mistake I made with my BRs was processing them waaayyy too young...as I said before. They were very tough. [​IMG] I didn't expect them to be anywhere near as meaty as a cornish x, but I didn't expect them to be so tough either. [​IMG] Live and learn...everyday's a new experience. [​IMG] The only way I would ever consider butchering another dual purpose bird is if I have a hen that's at the end of laying age.
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Uh, if you let them get any older, they will be even tougher.

    Really truly.

    (To some extent toughness is a matter of how you handle the meat, too -- if you let it rest a day or two before eating, then brine and/or marinate in buttermilk or such, and cook with a method that reduces toughness, that can make a real difference. Mature -- worse, older -- birds are just not going to have meat like supermarket birds though)

  9. shelleyb1969

    shelleyb1969 Star Bright Farm

    Thanks Pat. [​IMG] If age makes them even tougher, then I guess I should reconsider eating my "old" hens. [​IMG] I'm getting some colored rangers this spring, so we'll see how those turn out. For me, dual purpose birds don't "fit my bill" for meat quality, cornish x are just too darn dirty, so hopefully the CRs will work for me. Sorry if I sound so picky, but eventually I'll find what works for my family. I do have these Delaware cockerels that I'm going to butcher, so hopefully I'll have a good experience with them. [​IMG] Who knows...the Dellies may completely change my mind about dual purpose. [​IMG]
  10. chickabator

    chickabator Songster

    Nov 30, 2007
    shellyb, where are you getting your color rangers from?

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