Grass Feeding Meat Chickens, info needed

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by leasmom, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. leasmom

    leasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I got my meat chickens on Wednesday so they will be a week old tomorrow. I get various info on how to raise them. I need some good info. At what age/day/week do I start taking their feed away for a day. Can I feed them grass and at what age? If I am feeing them grass, do I feed them their feed too?

    I've only raised egg layers so I am very new to meat birds. I also have 7 white rocks that are 2 wks old also. I appreciate the info.
     
  2. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:Read "Pastured Poultry Profits" if you can. You never take their feed away for a day, other than the day you butcher them. You should give them feed for 12 hours on/12 hours off after about week 2, that is, take their food away at night. You can pasture them on the grass, but don't count on them eating much of it, if any. Iraise mine in a floorless tractor over grass, and even when I withhold food on the day before butchering, I've never found grass in a crop. They need broiler feed, and lots of it.
     
  3. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A chicken can not get any nutrients from grasses. Maybe more from legumes but not grass. They can not digest it to get anything from it. You'll need to feed them a broiler feed to get them to any size. When they are in the grass they are more eating bugs grubs etc and getting grit.
     
  4. leasmom

    leasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay. I was given bad info. So I take it away at night instead of during the day. I was told you give them one day and then take away the next etc. So they won't eat much grass...okay so that's out.
     
  5. leasmom

    leasmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have my hens in a chicken tractor and they're eating the grass along with their feed and they're eggs are richer and a deep orange color.

    I don't know anything about meat chickens. This is my first time but I'll be ordering them from now on. I just need to learn what to do.
     
  6. Harp Turkey Ranch

    Harp Turkey Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have my hens in a chicken tractor and they're eating the grass along with their feed and they're eggs are richer and a deep orange color.

    Yup the older birds will eat grass and the hens eggs will be a dark color yolk, but they are not getting much if any nutrients from the grasses. Their system is not equipped to digest and process grass like a cow or goats or horses. But they will eat it​
     
  7. barnyardmom

    barnyardmom Out Of The Brooder

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    I feed my meat birds high protein chick starter with boiled eggs for a little extra protein, twice a day. When they are old enough to free range I put them out so they get exercise to build muscle. (between feedings) Of course they peck at the grass and eat a little of it but mostly they are getting the bugs we don't see. (as stated by an earlier reply) We switch to finisher when the chicks get older.
    dk
     
  8. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've heard of grass-fed beef, but not grass-fed chickens. Maybe you misunderstood?

    Chickens can forage a lot, but they're not just eating grass. They eat all manner of plants, seeds, bugs, small reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, (anything small enough to eat and slow enough to catch) but they need feed, too. Some breeds forage a lot better than others. Broilers such as Cornish X aren't much for foraging. Rangers are much better at it. Dual-purp breeds are usually pretty good foragers.
     
  9. walls0stone

    walls0stone Out Of The Brooder

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    Here in rural PA we see turkey polts in the field running all over. They are chaseing black crickets and will put on 15% of there body weaght in just those black crickeets. I have often thought that if a person lived in a place were those critters were common, and you could keep the birds in a large tractor, they could eat as many of those bugs as the turkeys. However I do not think it would work so well wich Cor X's as they are only 6 weeks when you kill them. With slower birds it would work.
     
  10. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

    I think that chickens eating grass will get some nutrients from the grass but not as much as a ruminant will. Ruminants have a different digestive system that digests the cellulose more efficiently.

    Back to the original post. If you have Cornish Cross they will probably not forage very well but it doesn't hurt to try.

    If you keep food in front of them all the time they will eat all the time. Many people restrict the food during the first few weeks when thebirds are growing rapidly. This helps lessen the possibility of rapid growth related problems such as the weight of the bird exceeding the ability of the legs to support the weight and the mass of the bird exceeding the heart's ability to keep blood flowing.

    If you restrict their food too much it will slow down their growth which extends the time until you process them thus losing some efficiency.

    It depends on what your goals are and what works best for you.
     

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