I wanna hatch meaties for the freezer, what when and how?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Chicken Fruit, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Chicken Fruit

    Chicken Fruit Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2009
    Echo Homestead
    What breed is the fastest to mature?

    When should I bucher

    how should I care for them, any differently than my other chickens?

    Any tips would be appreciated!
     
  2. Nemo

    Nemo Chillin' With My Peeps

    477
    5
    131
    Jul 22, 2008
    N'rn Wisconsin
    We received our order of Cornish X Rocks (I call them "Corks" or "piggies"). This is only our second class, so I'm not that experienced, but I'll answer your questions as best I can.

    The Corks are bred to grow fast. All they do is eat, poop, and sleep. There are other breeds people grow for meat, but they are generally slower to mature. (Though many say they taste better.)

    We butchered our first class last year at eight weeks old. They ranged from just under six pounds to seven-and-a-half. You can do them early or late, depending on what size you want. Most other meat breeds take about 12 weeks, from what I've read.

    Do not have food constantly available for them. Feed them twice a day. If they have free access to the feed, they will eat-eat-eat until it is gone. If not watched, they can grow so fast that they have all kinds of health problems... They won't even be able to stand.

    Otherwise, they are pretty easy to care for. They don't roost. They don't even leave the ground. They barely move around the pen... Only to get from the feed to the water and back.

    Since they are eating machines, they poop a lot, and can get quite stinky if you clean the pen often.

    If you plan on having more than a few, find somebody nearby with a plucker. That sure saved us. Five unexperienced people processed 25 birds in a little over three hours. If we had to pluck by hand, I'm sure it would have taken all day.

    I recently heard you're s'posed to let the carcass "rest" a day in the 'fridge before freezing it. We didn't do that last year, but the meat was fine.

    Be sure to at least quarter a few before freezing. We froze all of ours whole, and it would have been nice to pull out a package with just some parts rather than having to prepare a whole bird every time.

    [EDIT]

    Two things I forgot...

    You can raise three birds eight weeks on the equivalent of 50 pounds of feed.

    Don't feed them 24 hours before butchering time... That way, their digestive tract will be empty, and it's easier to keep the meat clean when you are cleaning out the bird.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  3. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    Get Cornish X's. They are ready in 6-8 weeks, and will leave you with meat like you'd find in stores. As for how to raise, you'll have to read a lot more than I can tell you in one post, but the big things are-

    1) Raise them in a moveable tractor, and move it A LOT.

    2) Feed them Broiler Feed (at least 20% protein.)

    3) DON'T brood them in your house.

    4) Give them food for only 12 hours/day.
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

    34,028
    453
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Cornish X's are the standard "grocery store" chicken. They are a hybrid and will not breed true. They are not ordinarily kept til breeding age, are prone to problems that kill them before then, and are intended to be butchered around 8-10 weeks. They must be raised carefully to keep them alive til butchering age, never mind breeding age; some do this, but you would have to research it to learn how. As far as I know, Cornish X eggs are not available for sale.

    There are other breeds that can be raised for meat, but also kept til they can reproduce, such as Dark Cornish and Plymouth Rocks. Years ago, before Cornish X were available, people raised "dual purpose" birds for both meat and eggs. This includes breeds like RIR and NHR.

    There are also colored rangers, available from JM Hatchery. Again, they will not breed true, but can be raised to reproducing age.

    You have some research ahead of you, to raise birds from eggs for meat.

    I know very little about quail, but do know you can hatch them and that many raise them for meat, also. Supposed to be much easier to dress than a chicken, too.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 30, 2009

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by