Free-Range vs Tractored

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by protodon, Nov 22, 2009.

  1. protodon

    protodon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2009
    Okay ,I have yet to raise any meat variety of anything. Right now i have been culling extra roosters but I was thinking about getting some pekins and some colored rangers. Originally I was just going to let them free-range with the rest of my flock. But I got to thinking about building a chicken ark or tractor because my culled roosters are very lean and have little breast meat. They are mostly buff orp crosses and about 20 weeks old when culled. So I wouldn't expect much meat from them anyway since they seem to take at least 6 months to get any reasonable amount of breast meat. I feed my entire flock about once a day and they eat it all up real quick then forage and run around my 1 acre the rest of the day. They also get cracked corn and things like that. As I go in and out of the shed, I toss some out for them. Now I was wondering if keeping birds in closer quarters would make them bigger/meatier? Perhaps it's common sense since they are getting less exercise but then wouldn't they have more fat rather than more muscle? Anyone have any thoughts on this?
  2. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    Salatin explains it like this. If you completely free range your birds, they will eat all the good tasty stuff and that is all they will eat. In other words, the ice cream. They need to eat their broccoli and spinach, too.

    You can get away with that with layers, but not so much with the meaties. Even if you are using electric poultry netting, you are still restricting their area for a period to force them to eat a little of everything before you move it.

    Mind you I don't really know one way or the other, but that is his theory behind tractoring at any rate.

    I think turkeys are different, since they get a lot more of their food from foraging than chickens do. Maybe that forces them to eat a variety.
  3. TarzantheChickenMan

    TarzantheChickenMan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2009
    Guthrie, MN
    I tractor my meat birds just because they are white and they seem to get pick off by the owls if they are out at dusk. In the tractor I have not a chicken loss to a predictor yet. The turkeys i have not been so lucky, neighbor dogs. But i feed my meat birds in the morning and about noon then leave them to eat down the area in the pen the rest of the day then move them again in the morning. Once every few days when young to twice just before butcher. The birds grow well i butcher the CX at 8-10 weeks and have huge birds, gotta feed the family. But the cornish/EE mixes i leave until they hit the 5ish lbs range then butcher them same strategy just longer time 16 weeks rings a bell.

    Turkeys i tractor until they hit 5+ lbs then they get the tractor opened up and they get to range during the day and closed up at night back in the tractor.
  4. willheveland

    willheveland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    I like my Cornish-X tractored. Never raised Freedom Rangers and gave up on Dual-purpose long ago.I like the faster growing chickens for personal reasons. Where beef should be slow grown for the meat to be marbled for quality meat.I like chicken grown faster. Some people like a little fat for it adds to the flavor. JMHO Will
  5. protodon

    protodon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 3, 2009
    Well I may need a tractor anyway for my young birds due to new predator (hawk) problems. i guess I could try a few meat birds in the tractor and a few free-range to see if there is any difference. Not sure why I didn't consider that before. I was just thinking all free-range or all tractor. Oh well, I guess talking it out helps!
  6. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    I am going to tractor my meaties! I just dont want to get to attached to them!
  7. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    Tractors work great. Iwouldn't raise my meaties any other way!
  8. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
  9. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Quote:Salatin has some great info, and he's good at what he does, but here and there, I have to question what he says, due to my own experience. My dual-purp flock free-ranges every day, but they eat feed too, all by themselves. It's in the feeders in the coop, they wander in and out all day, eat greens, weed seeds, and bugs outside, wander inside and eat feed, go back out and forage. I have yet to see any poultry of any kind turn up their beaks at feed, just because forage is available.

    Maybe I misunderstood that though, did you (or Salatin) mean they'll only eat the best of the greens, if given the option, plus the feed?

    Broilers will generally spend all day at the feeder if you let them, to the point they will eat themselves to death if you don't take it away for a period every day. (after the first 2 or 3 weeks, that is, once they don't need lights to stay warm at night)
  10. the simple life

    the simple life Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have the same experience, my flock is let out to free range first thing in the morning and they go back in at night.
    While they are in the coop they eat their layer food, when they are out roaming around the yard they eat grass, bugs etc.
    I have seen them go in and out of the coop during the day, to lay eggs or whatever reason and they stop and eat out of the feeder.

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