First-time for meat birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Omelette, May 27, 2008.

  1. Omelette

    Omelette In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2007
    I would like to get 50 meat birds this year - I am thinking at the end of June.

    Questions, questions, questions:

    1. I am thinking of using a 10x10 dog kennel with wheels added so that I could move it around daily. Is 10x10 big enough for 50 birds?

    2. I know that meat birds do not have to perch. Would I just cover 1/4 or so with a roof? Perhaps aluminum?

    3. What about breeds? I am a little troubled with the thought of a bird that is bred to grow so quickly it may have a heart attack.

    4. How long would you recommend I "grow" them?

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts.
  2. msrma7670

    msrma7670 Songster

    Oh boy 50 of them.

    You will need alot more room than that. i have a 30 bye 20 and would not do it.
    roof does not matter however they need to be able to have shade and protection from the weather.
    cornish x or jumbo x rock is what ya want pure meat they will eat a ton of food i mean a ton. kill b/t 6-8 wks.
    good luck

    if you want just meat for meat n dont care who grew it walmart may be cheaper.
    i suggest about 10 no more in that size cage and that is packing them in tight.

    have fun with da peeps
  3. willheveland

    willheveland Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    1. I put about 25 in a 8x8 pen,and that is pushing it.
    2.For the short time they will be with you in the warm months of summer I'd use those green plastic tarps.Get them bigger so they can be moved around on the pen to be used as a top roof and side shade or wind blocker.
    3.Meat birds just grow quicker so it goes with the territory,just have to use good sence when feeding.If they didn't grow fast,they wouldn't be meatbirds.
    4.8 weeks,any more than that and problems start.
    good luck Will
  4. Omelette

    Omelette In the Brooder

    Jun 29, 2007

    I love your chicken tractor design. I've been looking for a long time and like the fact that you just lift it up and roll it along. I wouldn't even need help! Do you ever have problems with predators trying to dig under?

    What is I let them free range during the day? Will they know to come home like my hens do?

  5. willheveland

    willheveland Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    Quote:Knock on wood I have never had a problem with predators,but I have been lucky.I think by moving them each day helps.If a predator got use to seeing them in the same spot all the time like a permanant coop they may be more inclined to find a way in but,I have caught coon and opossum not far from them in a box trap.I did come home from work one time and found a dirt circle path(like a racetrack) around my tractor,from what I believe a fox kept running around while I was away.I put out some leg hold traps around the tractor just laying them on top of the ground.A smart fox knows enough to stay away if humans are putting something like that out.It never came back.may have been trapsmart.
    As far as letting them out during the day,to be honest I have never tried it.I don't even let my layers out to free-range until they are like 10-12 weeks old,because I always thought they weren't old enough to know their way back.I had a few get out and they don't stay together like the layers do.With the meatbird only being around for 8 weeks I don't know if they have spent enough time here to know the way home.I also live in the middle of the woods and once they got out of our cleared lawn those white birds would be easy prey.I wish they could free-range.It would be much easier and cleaner.
    let us know how you make out and post some pictures.I love seeing all the different clever ideas people have thought of. Will
  6. bluebirdfarm

    bluebirdfarm Songster

    how hot does it get where u r ? i am processing mine ( 100 ) on july one and prob won't get more till sept , too hot in july and august , i think . they have leg prob and heart attacks , we have lost 5 and it isn't even hot here yet ! they all had leg give out from under them and they were the smaller ones!!!
  7. Redfeathers

    Redfeathers Songster

    Oct 11, 2007
    Gervais OR
    50 is a lot to start with. I have 20 and find the mess they make is extreme. I originally thought I would start with ten, but once at the feed store where I bought them, I decided to double it in case of loss. So far they are all very healthy at five weeks, they run around, scratch, roost on the bottom of a saw horse (never thought they could get up there). Anyway, I've enjoyed learning from this, but I think next year I am only going to raise 10 tops. They are always hungry, always draining the waterer so you have to keep up with that. It's a lot of maintenance to keep them in a clean environment. The flies are another issue, no matter how often you rake out the pen, the flies are always there.

    I just re read this paragraph I wrote. It sounds negative. I don't mean to be. These birds will be worth every minute and every dollar spent. I just plan to scale it down to a more manageable level next year for the space that I have.

    Good luck with your birds. [​IMG]
  8. UncleHoot

    UncleHoot Songster

    May 22, 2007
    St. Johns, Michigan
    2 square foot per meat chicken should be fine, especially if it's moved daily. If you want to raise full grown hens, that would not be nearly enough space, but it doesn't sound like that's what you're doing.

    I currently have 50 meat chicks (5 weeks old) and 10 layer chicks (7 weeks old) in a 10x12 PVC-frame tractor that I built this spring (One of these days I plan to post pictures and other details of the construction and design). Once they get up around 7-8 weeks old, 2 sqaure feet isn't much room anymore, but then they're only somewhat crowded for the last week or two of their lives. Personally, they really don't seem crowded to me. That's twice the square-footage (or more) than they would get in an industrial factory-farm.

    As for smell, as long as you move it daily, it shouldn't be too bad. Occasionally, you may get a whiff of it, especially the last couple weeks, but for the most part, it should be a non-issue.

    My tractor pen is about 2/3 covered with tarp. Honestly, that's a bit much for something 2-3 feet tall, but if you're going to use a dog kennel, which is much taller, it's hard to say how much to cover. You just want to make sure that they have shelter from the rain. During some storms it may rain sideways from the east for an afternoon, and some may get wet if you only cover 5 or feet of it, but it's probably a low risk issue. As long as it's not wet and cold for an extended period, they will generally do just fine, especially if they're more than 5 weeks old.

    For cornish cross, 8-9 weeks is "normal" for most people to grow them out, if there is a "normal". At 10 weeks, you have small turkeys, and some of them will simply start dropping dead of heart attacks (I've been told). Since so much of my costs do not depend on the age of the chicken, 9 weeks works well for me. They really gain a lot of weight in that last week, too.

    There are a lot of other posts here regarding "Red Bro" broilers and "Freedom Rangers" (basically the same hybrid). I haven't tried these, but they are allegedly more hardy and more active, and as a result, a bit smaller. With those, you should expect to grow them a bit longer, though I could not tell you how much longer.
  9. jaku

    jaku Songster

    I'm doing 20 Cornish X's in a 6x10 tractor (pictured below.) The size you mentioned should be fine for meat birds. Mine are almost six weeks old, and at this point, a tractor of half the size would work fine, as they just sit around. The smell isn't bad- in fact the only time I've ever smelled them is when they were crowded together in my garage in their brooder, and occasionally a small whiff when I'm moving the pen. I'm doing 50 later in the year, and I'm debating as to whether to go to the Red Bro broilers. I've been pretty happy with the Cornish X's so far. A lot of the warnings people give about them- especially the smell, and the amount of space you'd need for 50, is in relation to layers. The Cornish are much grosser than layers, but are no problem at all when housed outdoors in a tractor. As for the size for your housing, they need MUCH less than layers. Read "Pastured Poultry Profits," it has a lot of good info on raising broilers.

    My tractor:

  10. msrma7670

    msrma7670 Songster


    That is a pretty neat chicken tractor. Did you use a plan or just did it. And If you could put some more pics of that thing to see how it was made I have been thinking about building one.

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