Large breeds vs smaller ones - Feed

DontKnow-Lost

In the Brooder
Mar 7, 2018
14
6
26
Hi guys,
I have a few questions, I hope you can help me with:

Do larger breeds eat, say 2-3 times more than smaller breeds (in relation to their weight?) Or are they more efficient, forage more etc.

I have the resources, cheap corn, wheat and place to forage. At what age does their tastes the best, keeping in mind taste, not expense ?

Thanks again.
 

cavemanrich

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7 Years
Apr 6, 2014
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Larger chicken will eat more than a small chicken. Same can be said about people. Larger body needs more.
White leghorns are the top egg producers. Their conversion ratio is at the top. They are also somewhat smaller in body mass than many other chickens.
Cornish X are top meat producers. They eat like pigs, but the conversion of feed to meat is at the top.
Your feed is not exactly the ideal feed for complete nutrition. I see a shortage of protein right off hand. The corn is the main ingredient in scratch. Chickens just luv wolfing that stuff down. Its like donuts for us.:gig
Your chickens will live but may not lay as well as should. Eggs are protein, If chickens do not get enough protein, how can they produce eggs with protein,, :idunno They may get fat and live shorter lives than otherwise. Compare that to people that have bad eating habits. You know that they are not as athletic as those eating balanced nutrition.
Not sure what you need to add to supplement the low protein and other vitamins that balanced feed contains. Some peeps do offer meal worms as protein in their treats. Free range chickens do get some of the needed minerals, protein and vitamins from forage. All depends what is available and how much. Maybe others can chime in on what you should add to the feed you have readily on hand.
WISHING YOU BEST,,,,,,,,, and :welcome
 

DontKnow-Lost

In the Brooder
Mar 7, 2018
14
6
26
Thanks. So what I was really asking is the conversion ratio.

As for the corn+wheat diet, it's good enough :) . It's not economical to buy the mixed feed, costs at least twice and I want to eat about 100 of them a year. I am willing to live with less eggs and less growth. Too fast of the growth is horrible anyway, IMO, tastewise. I aim to let them grow for at least 6 months, more for not-so-meaty birds.
 

cavemanrich

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Apr 6, 2014
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Sounds like your plan will work for you. Have some suggestions. If you are going to raise the chicks from day old or hatch your own, it would be good to start them on Chick Starter. Medicated also, so they don't develop Cocci. When they are small, chick's feed will go a long way. Well worth them getting a good start and Cocci under control. Cocci can do some undesirable things to your whole effort. If you do get hatchery stock, it is also worthwhile to have them vaccinated against Mareks. Once you get Mareks on your grounds, it is a pistol to get rid of. If you don't want to go the Chick Starter route, then grind the feed you have and offer sufficient amount of grit. Use meds to prevent Cocci.
You will probably stagger the chick acquisition, since you do want to process about 100 per year. Good to take whatever precautions so that you don't loose your flock to disease.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,503
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Southeast Louisiana
Sorry but the Marek's vaccine does not work that way. In the US the Marek's vaccine for chickens is actually turkey Marek's. I think some places in Europe are trying an alternative vaccine but I don't keep up with that. Turkey Marek's prevents the tumors that cause the damage from forming. The chicken can still get Marek's and can still spread Marek's. The Marek's vaccination will not keep Marek's out of your flock. It will stop the chickens that are vaccinated from showing the damage if they happen to get infected.

DKL, it is hard to say when they will taste best to you. We all have different tastes, what I like may not be what you like. While diet or some other things can play a minor part in taste and maybe texture, I'm not sure all of us can detect that subtle difference, especially depending on how it is cooked. The main difference in taste is the age the chicken is butchered. The meat from the store is going to be the Cornish X broilers which are butchered somewhere around 6 to 8 weeks of age. Those are going to be really tender, some might say mushy, and fairly bland tasting. If that is all you have ever known that may be what you expect chicken to taste like.

When chickens hit puberty, especially the males, the hormones cause the meat to gain a stronger flavor. Just from age the meat can gain texture, again males more so than females but age does affect pullets too. How you cook them makes a big difference too. I personally prefer the males to be around 4 to 5 months old when I butcher, the pullets can go a couple of months longer so I can see how they lay before I select which ones to eat, but you cannot fry or grill them at that age. They will turn to leather and pretty much be inedible. I generally roast mine in a pan that keeps the moisture in at 250 degrees for a few hours. To me that meat is really tender and tastes great. Others may not feel that way.

I don't have a strong opinion on size. There are only two of us and I can get two meals out of a relatively small pullet. A larger chicken just means I will have chicken for lunch. If I had a choice I'd go with a larger chicken but I don't obsess over size. Smaller breeds of chickens tend to have a higher ratio of bones to meat, but you may be OK with that. My suggestion is to do some trial and error. Get different chickens and try it, see what works best for you. If you are going to breed them yourself, eat the ones you don't want to eat and breed the ones you do. In a generation or two you will get a flock that is becoming tailored to your goals and the way you manage them.
 

cavemanrich

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Apr 6, 2014
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Sorry but the Marek's vaccine does not work that way. In the US the Marek's vaccine for chickens is actually turkey Marek's. I think some places in Europe are trying an alternative vaccine but I don't keep up with that. Turkey Marek's prevents the tumors that cause the damage from forming. The chicken can still get Marek's and can still spread Marek's. The Marek's vaccination will not keep Marek's out of your flock. It will stop the chickens that are vaccinated from showing the damage if they happen to get infected.
I'm not an expert at this. Are you saying that vaccinated chickens still get Mareks?? That would possibly mean that my flock may have Mareks. Now lets say I get a new chick from an Individual breeder, that has not been vaccinated. (something that may be occurring very soon) . That little chick will soon have HAD IT. :idunno
What are my options at this point. My understanding is that Mareks vaccine is administered ether into egg or right after hatching.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,503
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Southeast Louisiana
I'm not saying that a vaccinated chicken will absolutely without a shadow of a doubt get Marek's and become a carrier. I'm saying that a vaccinated chicken can catch Marek's if it is exposed to Marek's. If is is not exposed to the virus it will not catch it.

In spite of what you sometimes read on here, not every unvaccinated chicken in the whole wide world has Marek's. Yes it is a horrible disease when it hits. Yes it is easily spread. So is the flu this year. I don't want to get into the argument abut how effective this year's flu vaccine was but not everybody, vaccinated or not, got the flu.

When i first moved here I talked with a chicken disease expert at the extension office about how I was going to manage my flock. This guy is part of the group that investigates chicken diseases and outbreaks in this area. He said there had been one reported Marek's case in this county in the past two years. Not every case is going to be reported but one case in two years in the entire county? I did not consider that an epidemic that I needed to stay up nights worrying about.

You are right, the vaccine needs to be given before the chick or chicken is exposed to the flock. It needs a couple of weeks before the chick is exposed to chicken Marek's so it can build up it's effect. If you get vaccinated chicks you need to do a real good job of quarantine before exposing them to the flock, just in case the flock does have Marek's.

Even if an unvaccinated flock is exposed to Marek's it normally does not wipe out the entire flock. Some chickens seem to have a resistance to it. You never know how many will be affected, it could be none or all but is usually just some, often less than half. It's still horrible for the ones that are affected, don't let me downplay that.

So what can you do with that chick. Keep in mind that Marek's is not the only disease at risk. It is possible that any flock, yours or the one that chick is coming from, can have a disease or parasite that it has developed flock immunity against. Coccidiosis is a common one but there can be others. I don't know how exposed that chick will be to the breeder's flock before you get it.

Option 1: Freak out! Panic! They are all going to die, they are all going to die. Accept that doom is inevitable and give up without trying. I generally do not recommend that as an approach to life but in all seriousness, if it is going to cause you that much worry don't get the chick. It's not worth it.

Option 2: Get the chick just like you were going to anyway, as all kinds of people do all the time. If it is not exposed to the breeder's flock before you get it the risk of it bringing in a disease to your flock is really low, Marek's or anything else. A single chick does not do well by itself but quarantine the chick if you wish.

Option 3: Vaccinate the chick when you get it and keep it isolated for a few weeks. That obviously does not help with a chick hatched by a broody hen but some people do vaccinate their chicks when they hatch in an incubator. I don't but some do The vaccine comes in a massive number of doses that do not stay viable for long but you can get it and administer it yourself.

Any time you bring in an outside chicken to your flock you have a risk of bringing in disease or parasites to your flock or your flock may infect the new chickens. Some people take their chickens to shows or bring in chickens from chicken actions or swaps and just don't have that many problems. Some get wiped out. I take biosecurity seriously enough that I don't do that. The only way I bring in new blood is either get eggs and hatch them myself or get chicks from a hatchery. I did get some chicks from a feed store once. I'm not trying to say that there is no risk but lots of people bring in chicks from various sources all the time. If it is too stressful fro you don't do it. or take what you consider reasonable precautions and go for it.
 

cavemanrich

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Apr 6, 2014
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:goodpost: Good post and a KIND THANK YOU.
BTW I do not shake in my boots from fear. I always do like to learn things.. I also do add chickens in pairs or more. When I said chick, I really meant more than one. :)
Again thanks for your post. It has good information.:thumbsup
 

lazy gardener

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Nov 7, 2012
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To OP: While corn and wheat may be "good enough" to feed the birds, it may not be "good enough" to maintain the birds and achieve the best economy, growth rate, and egg production. If your birds lack the proper nutrients, you may see cannibalism or disease which will surely affect your profit margin.

I think that Leghorns have the best feed to egg conversion rate, but they have very poor feed to meat conversion rate. You might also check out the production hybrids and sex links. It depends on whether you intend to be raising your own replacement birds. If that be the case, you might prefer to choose a good meaty DP like White Rock.

CXR have the best feed to meat conversion rate. They dress out at 6 - 8 weeks. There are also Dixie Rainbows (aka Pioneers) and Freedom Rangers that are better at foraging, dress out to a reasonable carcass at 10 - 13 weeks.

If you have plenty of corn and wheat available at a good price, it wouldn't take much more to improve upon that to actually produce a feed which will provide good economy of growth and egg production. Fertrell Nutri Balancer, and an added source of animal protein should get you there. Check with @rjohns39 . He makes his own feed.
 

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