Meat Bird Tractor and Processing Plan

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Kabouter, Apr 25, 2017.

  1. Kabouter

    Kabouter Just Hatched

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    High everyone,

    I am going to grow meat birds for the first time this year and wanted to run my plan past the group.

    I am building a hoop coop based on these plans (http://www.plamondon.com/hoophouse.pdf) from Robert Plamondon. I have altered the dimensions a bit to provide 100 square feet of paddock space. It will be built with 12' 2x6 for runners and 8' wide. Three cattle panels make the roof. All told, according to my math, it should weight about 350# and be easily moved every couple days by our tractor.

    [​IMG]

    The coop cost $387 to build in total ( provided I haven't forgotten anything, I will actually build it this weekend).

    For predator protection, I purchased this solar electric fence unit (https://www.premier1supplies.com/p/intellishock-30-solar-fence-energizer) for $216. A single hot wire will go around the bottom of the coop.

    For our processing, I purchased the Starplucker SP-1 from CCONLY for $578 shipped. I also purchased a folding fish fillet table which I will use for my evisceration station.

    We are going to start by raising 30 muscovy ducks. This should give them 3 square feet per duck, and we hope it will be enough space if we move the tractor every couple days.

    The plan is to use the hoop coop as a greenhouse in early spring and fall to extend our growing season a bit as well.

    I am still figuring out feeders and waterers for the ducks.

    Interested in comments and suggestions, thanks!
     
  2. Fat Daddy

    Fat Daddy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ks
    Hello, It looks like you have done some solid research here! I have zero experience raising ducks, so good luck with that.... I have a good friend that builds the hoop houses for use with all kinds of critters. He likes them alot. Im not sure he moves them much but it sounds like it should work. I think you'll really enjoy plucker. While I have never used that machine, I have butchered a lot of wild ducks and geese. I cant imagine dressing 30 without a plucker. Post up how your electric fence works as a stand alone defense against predators. I have thought about it but never actually set one up. I used them for years working with cattle, but never as a defensive measure. Good luck with your birds.... Bill
     
  3. Kabouter

    Kabouter Just Hatched

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    Thanks Bill, I also grew up a bird hunter, so I have dressed hundreds of wild ducks and geese. That experience definitely played into the investment decision. Ha.

    I am hoping to build the hoop coop this weekend, so I will snap some pics of how I set up the electric fence. However, it is supposed to be cold and raining this weekend, so that might get postponed. We will see. Thanks for the thoughts.
     
  4. Fat Daddy

    Fat Daddy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I look forward to see'n it! I see the same forecast in my future as well.... Looks like a long weekend. I'v thought about building a simple hoop coop for a grow out pen situation.... Using it as a shelter inside a dog kennel for the young birds. I raise a lot of LF cornish in the spring and summer months, and need to hold them till they are old enough to be evaluated. Often thought one of these may work well....
     
  5. Kabouter

    Kabouter Just Hatched

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    Hi everyone, well I did a poor job of taking the time to document while I was building, but here is the duck tractor.
    20170527_130611.jpg

    So like I said above, it is 8'x12'. Three cattle panels are covered with poultry netting, and the cover is made from a 12'x16' tarp folded in half. On hot wire runs around the bottom for predator protection.
    20170527_130641.jpg

    Here's the back side. I just screwed on some scrap plywood as a windbreak. In this picture you can see the electric fence charger. I am really happy with this unit so far. It packs a whollop (ask me how I know) and is crazy easy to move around. The bucket is for the watering system, and the extension cord is running some heat lamps while the ducks are still smallish.

    The design of the hoop coop is pretty standard, I think the only change is how I did the joints at the two ends. I cut my 2x6 runners at a 45 degree angle, then screwed a 2x4 the the top side of the angle cut. Then I ripped another 2x4 at a 45 degree angle, and screwed that in place flush with the top of the runner. This way I had a flat surface for the vertical supports/door.

    20170527_130626.jpg

    I think my 350# weight guess is pretty close. I can move it by hand, but it is difficult. I rigged up a tow strap using old tie-downs that hook onto the eye hooks you can see in the above photo. The strap hooks into my tractor and it pulls very easily that way.

    The waterer is a design I found here and works really well. The five gallon bucket hanging outside feeds the float valve, and the water in the bucket stays really clean because the ducks can't get in there to muddy it up.
    20170527_141810.jpg

    Feeder design is also from here and works well. I put three 4" elbows in this five gallon bucket.
    20170527_141818.jpg

    Happy ducks are tasty ducks!
     
    RUNuts and Maeschak like this.
  6. FenwayFieldFarm

    FenwayFieldFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Hello Kabouter - I really like your hoop house design and need to consider it when I build another pasture pen. Right now, I have two 10x12 portable pens that are low to the ground (see pic). Getting in/out to feed, water the chickens can get tiring.

    I also bought the 30 Solar Powered Energizer from Premier1 Supply. After losing 12+ chickens in one night to a fox, I needed to do something. Great investment and that fox hasn't been around since. That thing packs a bunch - ouch!

    Good luck with your meat birds.

    File_000.jpeg
     
  7. NewLibertyHmstd

    NewLibertyHmstd Tater Salad

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    My Coop
    You really can't beat the electric fences when it comes to protecting the flock.
     
  8. Kabouter

    Kabouter Just Hatched

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    So just a midway update. The ducks are doing really well and growing quickly. I have not been weighing them, but it appears they will be pretty good size by our 8 week butchering target.

    The hoop coop performs great! It is very easy to move with the tractor, the watering system is easy to use and stays relatively clean. The ducks go through about 5 gallons of water a day at least! So I just dump out the bucket once a day, refill, then fill the reservoir and they are good.

    The electric fence appears to be working great as well. We have all manner of predators, and just this week I lost 4 hens to racoons (I think) when they stayed out a bit late free ranging. Ducks are sitting out there perfectly safe.

    I just ordered my shrink wrap bags, and we are planning to process these birds at 8 weeks old on July 3.
     
    Maeschak likes this.
  9. Kabouter

    Kabouter Just Hatched

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    Processing went really well. I am happy with all the supplies and tools I purchased. My only issue was bird weight. My muscovies weighed in between 55oz (3.4#) and 28oz (1.8#). That is much smaller than I had hoped for. Does anyone else have experience processing at 8 weeks? That just seems really small to me.

    All told, on the first run we learned a lot and got a good setup built. We lost 3 ducks out of the 20 we received. 17 processed birds. Total investment came out to $100 per processed duck, and about $38/lb packaged weight.
     
  10. jofanx

    jofanx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think 8 weeks old is a little too young for muscovies. They're tiny at that point (can't even imagine eating them then). They mature slower than your mallard varieties (since they're a different species. I find with my muscovies, at 13-14 weeks old is when the males have approached almost adult duck hen size but haven't gotten any hits of testosterone yet. Females are a little smaller. You might want to only get males as they have bigger breasts (even as young ducklings.)
     

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