I want to be prepared before I jump into meaties. My Questions...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by goldfinches, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. goldfinches

    goldfinches Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2011
    Hi, I never thought I would do meaties, but now think I'm going to try. I want to have my whole process in place before I start. I have come up with a few questions and can't find the answers through searching here. Can you help?

    1. I only have freezer room for a few, no more than 20 or so. What size tractor should I use for this many birds? Something small, like 4x8 or so? I plan to either use a pallet I have or PVC, form the frame, and wrap it with hardware cloth. Do I have to wrap the bottom too? I plan to make a covered portion with plywood on one side for their sleeping time.

    2. I think I'll let them grow to 8 weeks or so. I don't have a large yard, and my children play in the grassy area, so I wanted to take them to my relative's house to live. Their house is about 5 minutes from me, so I can go over a couple of times a day. The problem is, no one lives in the house. If I fully enclose the tractor in hardware wire, do you think they will be protected from predators okay? They won't have any trouble foraging for grass through it, will they?

    3. I don't have the confidence, or time, (3 small kids), to process them myself. How should I find someone to do this? Craigslist? Do deer processors usually process chickens too?

    That's most of my big ones.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    4 x 8 will only fit about 8 birds. They need 4 sq ft per bird. The bottom doesn't need to be wrap as long as predators cannot get under it. [​IMG]
  3. PulletPalace

    PulletPalace Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2008
    If you use 4 x 4 posts for the frame, then you don't have to worry about wrapping the hardware cloth under the frame, because the heavy frame will keep out predators (unless you have diggers.) You can drill holes in the posts, insert the PVC, and screw thru the frame and PVC to hold it in place. This site has the plan I used for mine:


    One thing to be aware of: as you pull the tractor around any lawn, meaties produce a tremendous amount of manure, and it will mash down the grass and ruin it pretty fast.
  4. itsy

    itsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Quote:4x8=32 square feet. Why do meat chickens in a tractor need 4 square feet per bird? 1.5 square feet is adequate, IMO. We aren't talking about egg layers here. I keep 13 red broilers in a 4x8 tractor. You can see photos of it in post #9 here . The birds are almost full grown and I could easily put more in. I'm thinking I'd cap out with another 5 birds, but could probably fit more. I move the tractor daily, sometimes twice daily. I have no issues with aggressive birds or canibalism.

    So I can speak from experience and tell you that a 4x8 tractor will comfortably hold at least 13 broilers - if not more. [​IMG]

    I also wanted to add a response to this quote:

    Quote:My grass has been recovering pretty quickly. As the birds have gotten older they are producing more poo, yes...but what helps is some raking. As soon as I move the tractor over, I rake up their last spot before the poo gets matted and hard. Fluffing up the grass and breaking up some of the poo wads helps the plot recover faster. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011
  5. AlbionWood

    AlbionWood Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 24, 2010
    Albion, California
    Quote:Good idea! These require a lot more management than other birds and you probably won't have time to catch up on things once they start growing.

    1. 4x8 is big enough for 20 if you move it every day. When they get bigger you may need to move it twice a day. You won't believe how much they poop, and how stinky it is. You could make it 8x8 but you'll still have to move it daily. You don't want to wrap the bottom, it causes problems (their feet can get caught in the mesh when you move the tractor and injure them).

    2. I think this is a recipe for disaster, but it depends on how bad the predators are where you live. One dog gets in, spends an hour digging under the tractor, and there go all your chickens. Can you enclose an area with electric fencing to keep out dogs, raccooons, skunks, opossums, etc?

    3. Can't help you there, it all depends on where you live. Just make sure you get that all set up and arranged ahead of time, because when the birds are ready, you don't want to delay getting them processed.

    CX take more care to raise than most other chickens, you might want to start with a small batch to see if they are right for you. 20 birds will make 100+ pounds of meat in 8 weeks, even after you lose a couple along the way.
  6. WVDan44

    WVDan44 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    I am also thinking of starting with meat birds. I'll do a traditional chicken tractor or pasture pen and maybe use electrified wire mesh in a protective circle around it. But I'm going to respond to your question about processors. If you are in Western Maryland or around Frederick, Hagerstown, you can find several processors in the area. My sources tell me they take their birds to the processor in the morning, and pick them up the next day in plastic wrappers and ready for the freezer. I'm not sure, but the processor might cut them up for an extra fee. I'm sorry but I don't know the charge for processing birds.
  7. goldfinches

    goldfinches Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 6, 2011
    Thank you all for your replies. I have read them, but haven't had a chance to comment yet - in the middle of a major kitchen remodel...

    You have given me some great ideas. Some things to think about as I build cabinets.[​IMG]
  8. WVDan44

    WVDan44 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    I talked to a processor yesterday near Hagerstown MD. They charge $2.00 a bird, do not cut them up, put them in a bag and pack in ice. You call ahead by at least 2 days and they process every Tuesday. There is no limit on howfew yhou need to take. You can pick up yhour birds in the afternoon of the same day. If you are in this area and want the name email me.
  9. Two Creeks Farm

    Two Creeks Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 23, 2011
    Hedgesville, WV
    Message me or post the processor near hagerstown.....Berry Blossom in PA was the closest I knew of.....

    Go for a small batch.....you will do fine and do alot of learning along the way!
  10. pinkwindsong

    pinkwindsong Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2011
    Laurens SC
    We're doing our meaties thru 4-h.. its a great project. were getting 40 chicks on the 1st of Sept. then we have till Oct 19th to get them up to weight, for processing. ( they do it thru the Clemson university processing plant) I too am getting everything ready for them I have two runs that Im gonna split them up into I am going to take nights down there even thought the weather is warm even at nights its still int he 80s, but I want them eating all night long.. we dont have long for them to get up to weight and the first year we did it.. I didn't know about he light and eating all night and they went as heavy as i would have liked. we get 40 becaseu we share with family and friends and at the holidays when our group helps a family in need, we send them meat as well as caned goods etc.

    good luck with your meaties.. hope they get big and juicy.. and dont forget.. NO NAMEs hahah.. there nothing worse than sitting down to dinner to eat; Helen and dumplins.. just kind of ruins the meal..


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