Meat Bird Noob Here!!!!

ChiknGordonBlu

Chirping
Mar 31, 2020
84
85
53
Ramona, CA
Howdy all,
So I am thinking maybe next year to begin raising meat birds along with my layers. From what I have read it is best to keep the meat birds in a tractor, my land is uneven and on a mountain side. We also have vast amounts of predators in the area. So I guess my question would be, on uneven surfaces what would be the best option for meat birds? Do I try and build a tractor and hope there are no gapes then it is moved to a different location? Is there any suggestions as far a predator proofing? TIA
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
593
1,063
231
Maine
Tractors can be difficult on uneven terrain. It kind of depends on how uneven it is and what style tractor you use. Our pasture is sloped and rocky in alot of places, but we utilize whatever flat ground we can to run our pasture pens over. You really only need about 3/4 of an acre of land to raise 30-40 birds on pasture for 5 weeks (assuming 3 weeks in the brooder and 8 weeks to butcher).

We use a salatin style low pen made with 2x2's and it conforms to a limited amount of unevenness. We also store some wood blocks of various sizes on top of the the pens to shove in any gaps. I always check around each pen after moving it to ensure that it has made decent ground contact and to shore up any places with the blocks where it doesn't hit the ground. More rigid pens will probably not be your friend with uneven terrain.

I don't know much about west coast predator issues, but Justin Rhodes has an interesting version of growing meaties on pasture that uses a movable roof shelter with no sides and surrounds their paddock with electric poultry netting. He moves the netting along with the shelter to a new area when they've used up their old area. I've tried this method and it's alot more work than simply using a pasture pen, but it may be a good option for you if a pasture pen will not work and I think it might even be better for protecting the birds from 4 legged predators. Aerial predators might be a problem though if you have alot of raptors or ravens.
 
Last edited:

Morrigan

Free Ranging
7 Years
Apr 9, 2014
3,044
12,142
692
N. California
I have rocky uneven ground and a very high predator load. I couldn't think of any way to do a tractor or portable coop, so I've raised mine in a yard, with an electric fence and a fixed, secure shed to sleep in at night. There are a few things you need to think about.

First, is predator resistance. Weasels can fit through very small spaces. If there is a 1/2 gap anywhere along your tractor's bottom, a weasel can fit through it. A lot thing will also dig - coyotes, foxes, dogs. Some will overturn a tractor (bears). Stringing electric netting around the whole tractor, might work. I don't know how much trouble moving the entire tractor and electric net would be.

Second, space, including deeply shaded areas and/or things like mister fans, as you live in a hot climate. Meat birds are big and heavy and don't do well in hot weather.

Finally, poop management. I think most people who tractor, move there tractors every single day as their birds get older. If you can't do that, make sure wherever they sleep is someplace you can easily clean out with a pitchfork and some clean straw every day. Otherwise, you will have some serious odors going on, and dirty birds.
 

ChiknGordonBlu

Chirping
Mar 31, 2020
84
85
53
Ramona, CA
I have rocky uneven ground and a very high predator load. I couldn't think of any way to do a tractor or portable coop, so I've raised mine in a yard, with an electric fence and a fixed, secure shed to sleep in at night. There are a few things you need to think about.

First, is predator resistance. Weasels can fit through very small spaces. If there is a 1/2 gap anywhere along your tractor's bottom, a weasel can fit through it. A lot thing will also dig - coyotes, foxes, dogs. Some will overturn a tractor (bears). Stringing electric netting around the whole tractor, might work. I don't know how much trouble moving the entire tractor and electric net would be.

Second, space, including deeply shaded areas and/or things like mister fans, as you live in a hot climate. Meat birds are big and heavy and don't do well in hot weather.

Finally, poop management. I think most people who tractor, move there tractors every single day as their birds get older. If you can't do that, make sure wherever they sleep is someplace you can easily clean out with a pitchfork and some clean straw every day. Otherwise, you will have some serious odors going on, and dirty birds.
Yeah, that is pretty much the system I have for our layers and bantams. I converted and old shed into a coop and have attached large predator proof runs to it and lock them up every night. So far so good, no real aggressive traces of predators or deaths yet. OK, so that will a possible plan for it. I guess either way I was building a tractor or a shed lol :woot
 

ChiknGordonBlu

Chirping
Mar 31, 2020
84
85
53
Ramona, CA
Tractors can be difficult on uneven terrain. It kind of depends on how uneven it is and what style tractor you use. Our pasture is sloped and rocky in alot of places, but we utilize whatever flat ground we can to run our pasture pens over. You really only need about 3/4 of an acre of land to raise 30-40 birds on pasture for 5 weeks (assuming 3 weeks in the brooder and 8 weeks to butcher).

We use a salatin style low pen made with 2x2's and it conforms to a limited amount of unevenness. We also store some wood blocks of various sizes on top of the the pens to shove in any gaps. I always check around each pen after moving it to ensure that it has made decent ground contact and to shore up any places with the blocks where it doesn't hit the ground. More rigid pens will probably not be your friend with uneven terrain.

I don't know much about west coast predator issues, but Justin Rhodes has an interesting version of growing meaties on pasture that uses a movable roof shelter with no sides and surrounds their paddock with electric poultry netting. He moves the netting along with the shelter to a new area when they've used up their old area. I've tried this method and it's alot more work than simply using a pasture pen, but it may be a good option for you if a pasture pen will not work and I think it might even be better for protecting the birds from 4 legged predators. Aerial predators might be a problem though if you have alot of raptors or ravens.
Thank you very much for the info, I will look up some of those videos. I will have to see what I can get to work or worst case have to build a shed to keep them in.
 

iwltfum

Songster
Sep 10, 2018
593
1,063
231
Maine
Thank you very much for the info, I will look up some of those videos. I will have to see what I can get to work or worst case have to build a shed to keep them in.

You could also use electric netting with a shed to allow them to range if you want to. But you have to make it very easy for them to get back into the shelter or else they may not find their way back to protection for the night. I have rotated my laying hens in a circle around their coop in the past with netting and it works pretty well. I'm a big believer that meat birds that have access to bugs, grass, and outside time are healthier birds and more nutritious to eat.
 

ChiknGordonBlu

Chirping
Mar 31, 2020
84
85
53
Ramona, CA
You could also use electric netting with a shed to allow them to range if you want to. But you have to make it very easy for them to get back into the shelter or else they may not find their way back to protection for the night. I have rotated my laying hens in a circle around their coop in the past with netting and it works pretty well. I'm a big believer that meat birds that have access to bugs, grass, and outside time are healthier birds and more nutritious to eat.
I will have to look into the electric netting. I still have some time before this kicks into effect, looking to do this next year. Only thing with the netting and moving it around I could see is the aerial preds out here. So many things to think about, see I too want them to be able to get as much organic feed and critter as they can. So still have to figure out the how, but that is why I turn to all of the knowledge here lol.
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
7 Years
Apr 9, 2014
3,044
12,142
692
N. California
I put avian netting over both my layer and meat bird yards. We have nesting red tail hawks on our property, so it was necessary. They carried off one juvenile meat bird before we closed off all the gaps in the netting.

As far as getting in the shed at night, I worked out a system where I fed them twice a day. First thing in the morning, I put their trough of fermented feed out in their yard. After all the meaties had rushed out, I cleaned out the shed and closed it off. Right before bedtime, I would put their evening trough of feed inside the shed and open back up the doors. After a couple of times they figured it out fast and would stampede back in. After the first year, we put a back door in the shed, so I could get in with the food and set it down, and not be swarmed by incoming chickens. I was lucky to have a large enough shed that we were able to create good light and ventilation in, so that had a decent area to eat supper in.
 
Last edited:

ChiknGordonBlu

Chirping
Mar 31, 2020
84
85
53
Ramona, CA
I put avian netting over both my layer and meat bird yards. We have nesting red tail hawks on our property, so it was necessary. They carried off one juvenile meat bird before we closed off all the gaps in the netting.

As far as getting in the shed at night, I worked out a system where I fed them twice a day. First thing in the morning, I put their trough of fermented feed out in their yard. After all the meaties had rushed out, I cleaned out the shed and closed it off. Right before bedtime, I would put their evening trough of feed inside the shed and open back up the doors. After a couple of times they figured it out fast and would stampede back in. After the year, we put a back door in the shed, so I could get in with the food and set it down, and not be swarmed by incoming chickens. I was lucky to have a large enough shed that we were able to create good light and ventilation in, so that had a decent area to eat supper in.
That sounds like a good plan given the terrain of my land. Yeah, definitely would need something for the aerial preds, we have some flying around here as big as VWs. My layers have that system down where they are out to feed them in the morning they they hang out all day and are all nestled in by themselves around 7:30pm. I think that system will work for the meaties too, now I will have to decide on what kind of shed or coop I will need to make. Thank you very much for the advice, everything else I saw it seemed like everybody only had meat birds on flat land lol
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
7 Years
Apr 9, 2014
3,044
12,142
692
N. California
everything else I saw it seemed like everybody only had meat birds on flat land lol
I remember feeling the same way, when I first started researching how to raise them. I still would love a big, flat grassy pasture and a tractor to raise them in. However, yarding them and giving them a clean, safe place to sleep in at night worked just fine. In some ways, I think they did better and got more exercise having run of a big yard, rather than being confined to a tractor.

The only downside is shoveling and disposing of dirty straw every morning. Luckily we have a big garden, so we were able to work all the manure into our compost piles.

Good luck with your endeavors. Having a freezer full of home raised chickens is extremely rewarding.
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom