forage project idea need advice

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Tad, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Tad

    Tad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have lost my freaking mind, I am in the nursery business,and I have more shade houses than I need right now, so I have this 30 X 96 shade house that isnt producing anything but weeds, and extra non productive work!!


    My big brain fart is to goat fence the sides and ends and build a small varmint proof pen in the middle, split in two parts and grow grass/pasture/grain/ in 2 parts graze on one side, for a week or 2 then switch to other, doing 30 or 40 birds at a time.

    The shade house has sprinkler system, and fertigation so growing forage is not a difficult thing to do, plus in deep south Texas we rarely get a freeze, so we have almost year round growing conditions.....

    The turn around time on finished broiler would be slower, but the feed cost would be less as well.

    The stank should be less as well.

    The 30% shade cloth should keep the birds a little cooler during the heat of the year. and prevent hawks from getting them.

    can always grow plants in it again should my broiler market go south.

    so the part I cant decide is should I go for it or not?

    and would it be better to stick with the cXr"s or are the red broilers a better choice for raising on forage?

    it also just occured to me I could go alfalfa as a pasture too?? anybody have any experience with that?

    1440 sq foot of space should keep30 to 40 broilers busy for a week right? especially if I am still offering feed??







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    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  2. EGGTASKTIC

    EGGTASKTIC Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Go baby go> do it come on do it> no guts no glory.

    I wish i had you growing conditions.

    I think clover would be better than alfalfa. Alfalfa is more soil specific.

    As far as birds go I think the cornish are still the way to go - the reds will grow slow and cost more in the long run. Unless there is a market for a darker skinned pastured bird in you neck of the woods.

    love that avatar

    good luck.
     
  3. Tad

    Tad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am gonna go for it, I will sell off the first batch of crx's next week, they will be 6 weeks old, they can start picking the larger ones,
    I figure it will take me about a month to get the new set up in place, and a few weeks to get the forage growing, the first forage will just be some haygrazer and rye grass/bermuda mix, getting the forage established this time of year will take a little longer, it will still grow just not near as fast, the wife thinks I am touched in the head!!
    I will also recycle the black ground cloth fabric on the north side wall as a wind break.

    I am now trying to figure out what kind of housing to build in the middle?
    since they are meat birds it wont have to be as elaborate as the layers hen house.
    I plan on filling that one with mulch tho...so it will have to be big enough that I can get in and out and easy to clean.

    I have also thought of building a tractor, and just moving it around with the gator inside the shade house?????
     
  4. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

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    Do you have any idea how many quail you could grow in that thing??? LOL

    I think it is a cool project. I am going to try and grow clover this spring for my ducks.
     
  5. Soccer Mom

    Soccer Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2009
    West of Crazy
    That's an awesome set up for housing meat birds. You might as well take advantage of the milder winters there. I think a hoop house or two would fit nicely in there.
     
  6. Tad

    Tad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My background is ag, I dont recall anybody ever growing clover down here, intentionally, recently some new varietys of alfalfa have been proven to do ok here too, I have free sorghum(milo) and corn so I am sorta thinking thats cheap enough and grows well enough for a forage, I will have to consult my old stockmans handbook to see what the nutrional value is of various pastures, I can run liquid fertilizer through the system increase the growth rate too.....altho I dont think the cxr's will eat all that much grass/forage???

    I think a 8 X 16 coop/pen, that way the cutting of lumber is minimal, and slant the roof a little.......

    I am thinking of keeping the feeder mobile but have the watering station inside the pen to make it easier to put them up at night...anybody have thoughts on this?
    I think by moving the feeder around they will follow it and move around a little more. ??? Experience anyone???


    I can run electricity to it easy, for a heat lamp for the few nights it gets really cold, but whats the temp range on a cxr ?
    we do get kinda cold mid 30's but not for very long and not very often, I will prolly use the groundcloth on the sides of coop/pen as well

    feel free to throw in your opinions, ideas, and critiques........

    I figure on using the ugly old goat pen run I have for the layers, the green pen as a breeding pen and where I will harden off the new chicks, until they are old enough to be put into the big run(3 weeks)...........

    thus far I have financed my feed bill and crx's by hatching and selling chicks from my layers.....so I am not going to be rushing into this without having at least put some real serious planning into it!!
     
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  7. Bossroo

    Bossroo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Tad, The Cornish X is the gold standard in the meat production chicken world. The Ranger type is second but will take several weeks longer and may/ may not reach the desired weights in a timely fashion. The dual purpose/ heritage birds, I found to be too expensive in time, labor, etc. to be profitable after raising them for decades before I discovered the CornishX. They will take 16-22 weeks to yield a 3 1/2- 5 lb. carcass compared to the Cornish X's 6 weeks. Now I raise them for 6-8 weeks and I am done. Any meat type of animal requires higher protein for rapid growth. In the meat chicken's case it's over 20% protein. Also, the less time they spend running around expending caloric energy the more they send those resources to muscle ( meat) growth, and laying down fat layer ( fat is what gives flavor). Chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians. This is most efficiently derived from sources of concentrated proteins from grains, soy beens, fish meal, bone meal, animal biproducts, insects, etc.. Forage can be thaught of as a salad and a filler. Yes, they may provide microneutrients but not as their main meal for optimal growth. Your setup model is more conducive to egg laying strains as they require less protein and more space. Geese, on the other hand, are genetically predisposed vegetarians and are programed for foraging grasses for their growth requirements. Game birds require even more protein than meat chicken strains and much more space for each individual.
     
  8. twentynine

    twentynine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The grazing areas better be big or you might ought to not have to many chickens.

    Why?

    I got 10 chickens in a 600 sq ft run. The run is divided into 3 equal 200 sq ft areas. My original idea was like you plant forage in the areas and then rotate the chickens. I figured right off the top of my head that I would rotate them once per week. That way I would have a 3 week rotation scheme. Well, a 200 sq ft area planted with rye grass, clover, turnips, and rape allowed to get shin high, last the chickens about three days. At the end of day one all of the standing forage is trampled and broken, day two bare spots start appearing, day three most of the remaining forage is uprooted, 90% of the green is gone. As they uproot the soil the planted forage does not regenerate without replanting.

    I have since modified my grazing plan. I keep the birds primarily in one area and rotate them once per week for 4 hours into each repective area. For instance they are in area #2 on Monday for 4 hours. Then on Wednesday they are in area #3 for another 4 hours. The remainder of the week they are in area #1.

    Weather here may be slightly colder than SW Texas, but we still have green grass and few freezes.

    That aside I think your idea of using your shade houses is great, cheap housing.
     
  9. Tad

    Tad Chillin' With My Peeps

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    twentynine ....your 6 square feet per bird, this one based on 40 birds is 36 sq ft,50 birds would be 28.8 on each side, I think it will be just the right size for a week to ten day rotation, I can vary the forage per season and the birds will rotate thru small to big so they wont always be mature birds.... if it works it works if it doesnt I will monkey with it until it does, [​IMG]
     
  10. twentynine

    twentynine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    6 sq ft per bird?

    - ain't so good at math ---- but---- total run area equals 600 sq ft divided 3 ways that equals 200 sq ft divided by 10 chickens equals 20 sq ft per chicken. Or----- 600 sq ft divided by 10 chickens equal 60 sq ft per chicken for a figure on total area.

    Depending on which figure you use, it's right in there with your figures.

    I still say in my opinion to effectively graze chickens on planted forage 100 sq ft or more would be required --- that is per bird.
     

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