How to keep meaties going

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by dmclucker, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. dmclucker

    dmclucker Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 18, 2013
    I have a 8x16 run and about a 8x12 coop. We keep 5 layers. I'm looking at how to keep up a supply of meaties with the assumption that we eat 1/week.
    Is starting a new batch of 4-5 every month a good idea?
    Also what are some options for keeping new chicks coming in 4-5/month at a time?
    What chicken math would you go with having these coop/run sizes?
    Would it be better to use a larger batch and cull evey other month?

    I'd love to hear about experiences with this type of thing-

    Thanks in advance
  2. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Meaties like Cornish cross should be butchered at about 8 weeks for a tender bird.
    Harvesting 1 a week for whole or half year is really not a great idea, IMO.
    Better to have freezer capacity to do 2 batches of 25 or so twice a year.

    Have you perused the meat bird section for research?
  3. dmclucker

    dmclucker Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 18, 2013
    Totally agree, harvesting 1/week would be a huge pain. The idea would be to harvest whatever the oldest batch is.
    I don't have enough room at freezer camp for 25. I might for 10. So every other month I'd harvest the 10 that were started 2 months ago and start another 10. So we'd spend 2 months consuming the 10 while another 10 were growing out.

    I'm looking through the meat birds section too but thought this might be more of a management issue so I posted here.

    I'd consider 10 a "small run" so I'm curious of people that have done it at this scale and how they've sourced "small runs".

  4. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Dec 25, 2012
    The growth rate on cross bred Cornish birds is so swift that if you don't process them up fast (all at once, more or less) you may lose some of your birds to natural mortality. Either that or a pen full of over grown Cornish X chickens will have the effect of causing you to never hatch or raise another meat bird.
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I am not selling these, but the drill bit pluckers will make doing 10 all at once doable, and not break the bank. But maybe you have a plucker. I just got this in time to process my bunch of 5 roosters, and it made it so much better.

    I am thinking about doing true meat birds. I have processed extra roosters and a couple old hens, now I think I am ready for meat birds.
  6. DreamsInPink

    DreamsInPink Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm interested in some input here too. We have 6 Cornish X that are 2 weeks old... We are new to chickens and new to culling. But, we eat a LOT of chicken. We are in the middle of building our coop which is 10 x 20 and we are going to have a run of about 25 x 50, at least. I've not measured the area yet, but it's pretty big. We would also like to be able to keep a running supply on hand. Freezer space is no issue. We have 2 large deep chest freezers. And if it did become a problem I know my daughter and sister would take some off our hands.

    All that being said, what is a drill bit plucker?
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
  8. DreamsInPink

    DreamsInPink Chillin' With My Peeps

  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Pluckers do look like they'd bruise the crap out of your meat, until you understand the butchering process. First you kill and bleed the bird out, draining all the blood. Since the blood is drained, there's nothing to cause a bruise when those rubber fingers hit the carcass.

    If you've not seen a drum plucker in action, go to you tube and do a search. It's hilarious and somewhat disturbing at the same time [​IMG]. Just remember, the bird is already quite dead.

    In the past I've done basically what the OP is wanting to do, although I had more freezer capacity and didn't raise the meaties in the winter. We also wound up buying some chicken from the store because I didn't have a quite large enough space for the live birds. I just ordered chicks from the hatchery or local feed store in season.
  10. modernsettlers

    modernsettlers Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 28, 2015
    Petaluma, CA
    We've been trying to do the sustainable meat thing. Building a plucker was the best idea we've used since getting chickens! Seriously, processing day is pretty laborious, so every other month sounds like the best option. It's taxing in more ways than one, so NOT having to pluck by hand is a HUGE plus. We built a "whizbang" style plucker and now de-feather each bird in 15 seconds or so. End costs were around $400. That's a lot of money (even though you only pay it once)... so if you're only looking for short-term cost savings, buying chicken from the store might still be the best option, BUT if you plan on regularly processing chickens there is no better time/effort saver. Plus, $$ can be saved if you already have materials, which we did not.

    When we were planning, I made a YouTube playlist of other pluckers or inspiration here: there are lots of different modifications people have made that are just great and make the plucker even better.

    Oh! Also, I wouldn't mix CX with your current flock, as they will be coming from "factory" conditions and who knows what they may be carrying at first. I've also had zero luck mixing chickens of different age groups, so a divider may be necessary if you raise them in your current run (which sounds big enough for 10 additional birds, for sure).

    If you want exact numbers (exactly 10 birds for instance), I would recommend getting a few extra CX to account for potential losses. CX can sometimes croak for no apparent reason. If you end up with too many at week 8, you can always gift/sell the extras to friends and family (we did, it was a hit!). Good luck!

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