Heritage Roos in a Chicken Tractor

travifive

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
70
10
33
Abita Springs, LA
Ok, so I have been raising CCs for a few years now and decided to try the whole pastured poultry thing to see if I could get my broilers more efficient on feed. I started this year with a batch of 50 CCs and 50 Heritage Roos(Plymouth Rocks, Barred Rock, Buff Orps, and RIRs). The heritage birds were mixed in with a batch of future layers that I also received at the same time in the brooder. The CCs were in a tractor that I built for them. All was well until we got a freak rain storm followed by 40deg temps (very odd for south Louisiana) that got all my CCs wet and cold while I was at work and subsequently killed 38. That tragedy coupled with the chicks losses from when they were in the brooder left me with 6!!!!
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I enjoy raising CCs because I do like a challenge, but I think it will be a while before I do another. I have put an order in with S and G Poultry for some Red Rangers to replace them but since I have this pen in my yard I might as well use it. So this is what I did.

My brooder house is broken up into two 10x10 sections. One side was empty and the other had the heritage roos and the asst layers. I took the 6 CCs out of their pen and moved them into the empty side of the brooder. Then I separated the roos out of the other side and put them into the pen in the pasture where the CCs were. After selling some of my roos to a friend I am left with 24 roos. My question is this. Has anyone had experience with raising heritage birds in a pastured pen? The whole idea of a pastured pen, as I understand it, is to keep the chickens from burning too many calories and losing weight while at the same time controlling grazing and predator loses. Using this logic, wouldn't my roos gain more weight by keeping them confined?

Please help! I want as many opinions on this as possible so I can figure out what the right combination is for this. Losses have already been too high so I need to make sure I don't make anymore mistakes this season. It's been one of the character building years. ;)
 

CC Lefty

In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 15, 2009
41
1
34
San Joaquin Valley, CA
You ever consider pastured pens for a few weeks prior to slaughter (say weeks 17-20)? As I understand it, this is an acceptable way to finish heritage roos. See the final few weeks as a "fattening" period. Also, restricted movement should keep the tougher parts, like thighs and legs, from growing too tough. I am currently working on a FCM x Deleware meat project as well as a rhodebar roo meat project. This is my plan. Concerning your growing roos losing weight, as long as you have your heritage roos on an adequate starter/grower ration, they shouldn't loose any weight during their growth period. Good luck!
 

travifive

In the Brooder
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
70
10
33
Abita Springs, LA
They are 6 weeks right now. I have them on a game bird crumble 26% that I can cut with starter/grower if I see them start developing leg problems. I'm thinking of keeping them in the pasture pen until slaughter. I curious to see if I can reach a 4-5lb carcass weight before 14 weeks. If I have to wait until after it's not a huge deal but it would definitely save on feed costs.

Do you have a thread where you track your meat projects? I'd be interested in seeing the progress and final results.
 

CC Lefty

In the Brooder
10 Years
Aug 15, 2009
41
1
34
San Joaquin Valley, CA
Travifive -

If you reach 4-5 lb. carcass weight by 14 weeks with heritage roos, you'll be sitting on a gold mine. I ran a heritage meat project last year with a group of Delawares from Whitmore Farms and butchered the roos right around 17 weeks. Carcass weights were right on 4 lbs. with necks. Legs and thighs were full, dark, tender, and succulent. Breast were slender, but acceptable (puny compared to the Cross). From what I've come to understand, my results were a little north of average for a heritage meat bird project. Their ration was 22% and they were free pastured, but I'd be shocked if those variables added three weeks to my project.

Still, I admire your efforts and look forward to hearing your results. It's nice to see people working with heritage breeds for meat, they are so much more flavorful and interesting. Full disclosure on my part, the Cross is far too efficient, and I have far too many mouths to feed to excluded them from a regular visit to freezer camp, but I hope to find a heritage project that allows me to one day.

As for a thread that tracks my results on this year's projects, we're still in the embryo stage. If I do post up results, I'll likely post them on my brother's thread "Pastoral Poultry ....." in the Managing Your Flock section. You should check it out. There are a bunch of like minded individuals there who would be of great assistance.

Cheers,

Seth
 

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