Meat bird newbie

GldnValleyHens

Crowing
Apr 21, 2017
978
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Galena, Illinois
I found out we are getting a bunch of meat chicks after Easter, and while I know all about raising layers, I am new to meat birds, never done it before. We will be putting them in a chicken tractor in our fields once old enough. They will be raised organically and preferrably mostly grass-fed.
Any tips for raising and keeping them in the pasture until butchering age? All advice is appreciated. I don't know if we will be butchering them ourselves, at least I won't. I can't kill a chicken no matter how ugly it may be.
 

GldnValleyHens

Crowing
Apr 21, 2017
978
2,128
262
Galena, Illinois
What breed of meat birds will they be? Grass fed for fast growing birds won't work.
Cornish cross. Not my preference, but our church has no where for these chicks after Easter and they know we are the CHICKEN PEOPLE, so we are getting them. What about pasture raised and supplemented with feed? Will they still grow plump, and thrive?
 

MrsMistyReal

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6 Years
Aug 6, 2014
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Welcome aboard to BYC family gr8 people tons of information loads of fun enjoy shake your tail feathers
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ChickenCanoe

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Nov 23, 2010
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Cornish X are the most efficient animal in converting feed to meat - but they are eating machines and will need lots of feed in the range of 18-22% protein.

A tractor, even if on pristine pasture of tender forbs, will not be able to provide the nutritional balance meaties will need to grow apace. They prefer to sit by the feeder, eat and defecate. If they do become accustomed to foraging, there still won't be enough vegetation, seeds and bugs to do the job.
One doesn't get the poultry bang for the buck by limiting feed.
 
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Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
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western South Dakota
I am going to expand this year to this aspect of chickens, so I was glad to see this post. I have had layers for years, and butchered a couple of birds a year. While they are fine for chicken casseroles, soup, dumplings, I want some better birds for just frying or baking.

I have read enough to realize this is a whole new game. I think what you (the original poster) are preposing, will result in a lot of deaths before harvest time. They should be ready to harvest in 8 weeks.

My question is: do they need light 24/7? And feed 24/7? I know they eat and drink a lot of food and water. Can you keep them without 24 hours of light? Where I want to set them up, they would not have electricity, and so would have a real night.

Mrs K
 

ChickenCanoe

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
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Nov 23, 2010
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They shouldn't have 24 hour light. They need a dark period and if they are kept on say 20% protein and allowed to eat around the clock, there will be several issues such as the weight can't be supported by the skeletal structure and heart attack, especially in hot weather.
I raise most of my chicks on 8 hours of darkness but a longer dark period can help as well.
 

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