meat and eggs

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by jcschild, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. jcschild

    jcschild New Egg

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    Oct 18, 2015
    HI,
    I have read so many posts, looked at designs until my head spins.

    what I want to do is have both egg and meat birds. I want the meat birds hatched from my flock and not buy separate meat birds.
    in other words totally self sufficient.
    several birds are good for both.

    the question is with design of coop. is it best to keep them separate?
    keep the rooster from the layers?
    do chicks have to be separated from main flock.
    if so I guess that means 2 runs?

    ready to build!

    thanks
    Scott
     
  2. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    Scott, if you get the better meat breeds----they are usually crossed so reproducing them does not get the same. What I would do is choose a breed or two of the bigger standard chickens-----if you are going to free-range then you are going to have a lot of crossed up chickens----unless you do keep the roosters in separate cages. It might be simpler to go with just one breed----unless you got a way to keep 2 or more breeds separated??? Keeping them penned up kinda goes against being self sufficient.

    I personally think there is more than one way to be self sufficient-----I can raise pure bred chickens and sell $1000 a year and buy a lot of steak----you understand what I am saying. I do not just have to eat chicken.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Scott, the problem with this is that there are so many different things that can work you have way too many options. It’s not a case of there only being one way to do any of this but that you can do it many ways. I don’t know how many birds you plan to raise, how much room you have, how you plan to feed and manage them, just so many questions. My main suggestion is to try something and when it doesn’t work, it usually doesn’t the first time, be flexible and try something else.

    I’ll try to go through how I do it and see if you can pick up anything that might help you.

    I hatch about 45 chicks a year. About half are male, half are female, so half of what I eat are female. Some people only eat males and do something else with the females. I eat one chicken a week, but with visiting grandkids and other things 45 is about the right number of chickens a year for me. My main laying/breeding flock is usually one rooster and 6 to 8 hens but with all the juveniles growing up to butcher age I regularly have over 40 chickens in the summer, many pretty young. I have 39 right now.

    I have a flock where the hens often go broody but I also use an incubator. My freezer space is limited, especially during garden harvest season, so I don’t butcher huge amounts of chickens at any one time. Since I typically don’t have broody hens early in spring, I normally do one or two early incubator hatches, the first usually in January or February, so I’ll have chickens the right size to butcher when I get low in the freezer. After that I use broody hens to get up to the right number of chicks for the year.

    My brooder is in the main coop so the chicks get raised with the flock from the start. My broody hens raise their chicks with the flock. I have lots of room. Integration is a breeze.

    I usually let the chicks grow up with the flock until butcher age, usually somewhere between 18 and 23 weeks for the cockerels. I generally wait until the pullets are laying so I can evaluate them as replacement layers before I decide which of those to butcher so they can go to seven months or longer.

    I have a main coop, a 12x32 main run, a grow-out coop at the far end of that run, and an area enclosed in electric netting maybe 45’ x 60’. I also have another pen inside that electric netting. A portion of my main run can be partitioned off so it is part of the grow-out coop area. In this shot the main coop is to the left, the grow-out coop to the right, and that little pen is in the netting area.

    [​IMG]

    If the main coop is pretty crowded I may move some chicks to the grow-out coop/run area until they learn to put themselves to bed over there, then turn them loose to run with the main flock. If the main coop is pretty crowded I’ll sometimes lock a broody hen and her chicks in that pen in the netting area for two or three nights right after hatch. After that she takes them to bed in there and I can lock it up at night as protection against owls and other predators. Usually having a bunch of cockerels maturing in the flock isn’t that disruptive but I have filled that grow-out area with cockerels and kept them separated from the flock when I get an unusually rowdy bunch. I don’t always do things exactly the same way, each group is different each year with their own dynamics. Flexibility is a must.

    Mine all eat the same thing. If you plan to feed your cockerels a special diet to get them bigger faster you might want to house them separately so you can feed them differently.

    I don’t know how you plan to manage them but you are probably going to need a lot of room. I’d suggest you start with a main coop, larger than you think you need it, and a main run where you can isolate your flock if you need to. That adds to your flexibility when you are managing them. Then have a second coop, similar to my grow-out coop, with its own run but where all the chickens can see each other. Whether or not you need a third area depends on how big the other areas are and how many chickens of what age at any one time.

    I do not raise the Cornish X or Rangers broilers. My flock is mixed breed dual purpose birds. I usually don’t have any serious issues with raising all the chickens together, cockerels and pullets, with the adults. I’m convinced having lots of room makes a lot of difference. If space is tight you are much more likely to have problems with that. I don’t know how it will work out for you but people don’t complain about their facilities being too big, though I know it can get expensive. The more flexibility you can build into it the better.

    Good luck!
     
  4. rebrascora

    rebrascora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you get dual purpose chickens, then you can either incubate their eggs and brood them under heat or if you get a broody hen, let her hatch and raise them within the flock and then just butcher the excess cockerels, but be aware that they will take longer to get up to weight than "meat" birds and there will be significantly less breast meat on them. Also because they are older at butchering, the meat will not be as tender as "shop" bought chicken and the flavour is stronger. Typical butchering age for dual purpose is anywhere from 16 weeks to 6 months.
    I haven't been doing this long and I'm quite soft hearted, so I've been leaving them longer but to be honest, if you don't have a bachelor pad for them, once they hit adolescence, they are a total nuisance and harass the hens and pullets. They also don't grow significantly between 16 weeks and 6 months, mostly because they are burning off their feed chasing hens to mate them, so if you are prepared to butcher excess cockerels at 16 weeks, that is probably best, but there isn't much meat on them compared to a "meat" bird, so if you like breast meat you may be disappointed.
    If you don't become attached to your hens and butcher them at 2.5-3years old, you will get more meat off them, but it needs to be slow cooked....My hens have a retirement plan, so I don't get to enjoy their meat, but flavour wise I find old hen preferable to cockerel. In the olden days, they used to caponise the cockerels to increase their size for the table. Even in a bachelor pad, I find it hard to feed cockerels up to make them fat, because their hormones burn it off.

    Good luck with your project.

    Regards

    Barbara

    PS. I have a mixed flock, layers and DP and don't see any problem in keeping them all together. The DP hens are more likely to go broody and you would be best to include some cochins and light or speckled sussex to increase your chances of getting a broody if that is your goal. My experience is that the light sussex cross makes a reasonably large and quick growing table bird compared to other crosses I have tried.
     
  5. bob869007

    bob869007 Out Of The Brooder

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    I am doing something similar to what you are talking of. I have Production hatchery RIR, and am moving towards some heritage bloodlines to hatch eggs all within the same flock and breed. Right now, I currently use a small flock of Old English Standard Games as broody hens. The OEGs lay smaller sized white eggs. They are games so they are akin to wild birds. The are exceptionally broody and one of the best mother hens on the planet from all of my research. I currently have 2 hens sitting. 1 is on a clutch of RIR eggs and the other on a clutch of OEG eggs. I have 11 acres, half of it is timber, the other half grassy, brushy and somewhat treed. I am building coops for the purpose of perching the grow out birds at night. Each one will have a wire floor and they will be stationary. Emptied upon harvest. I keep my 2 main flocks separated. Once the eggs hatch momma will get turned loose with the flock and raise her chicks. I have my egg boxes set up to where they hang outside of the coop but still contained in the building. The boxes are made of storage containers and can slide in and out. When my hen goes broody I slide the her box out turn it 180 so she can't get in with the rest of the birds and they with her. I give her her own food and water. After they hatch and shes about ready to leave the nest the box gets spun back around and into the main coop she goes. Its a pretty good system, it makes egg harvest a breeze, it gives my broodies protection from the rest of the flock and makes good use of the "dead space" a lot of people wall off for storage inside the building of the coop. I am using a converted woodshed. This is my first spring hatching eggs. We raise rabbits for meat and soon we will be off of store bought chicken products. We feed our dogs the prey model so they eat the same meat we do and want to grow it all. Good luck
     
  6. bob869007

    bob869007 Out Of The Brooder

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    Oh, I am also going to start a flock of buckeyes and see if they are as advertised. :)
     
  7. jcschild

    jcschild New Egg

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    Oct 18, 2015
    thank you so far!
    good to know I don't have to separate chicks from flock.
    I do have decent amount of land but I don't see them free ranging too much already have hawks circling due to neighbors chickens.


    I should have been a tad clearer.

    when I say self sufficient I should have said "lets say I don't have power period"

    I intended to have only 1 breed. one that is both a good layer and decent meat.

    I guess the other question is eating eggs that have been fertilized?
    that was the purpose of separation.


    thanks
    scott
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Don’t worry about eating fertilized eggs. As long as you gather the eggs daily you won’t find any surprises in them due to them being fertilized, even if they are under a broody hen. There is no difference in either appearance or nutrition if the egg is fertilized or not. Anybody that was raised on a farm with a flock of chickens that contained a rooster was eating fertilized eggs.
     
  9. jcschild

    jcschild New Egg

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    Oct 18, 2015
    awesome thanks, what I though but wasn't sure
     

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