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Meat Birds (Chickens, Turkeys, Ducks)

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by anthonyjames, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. anthonyjames

    anthonyjames Songster

    Apr 22, 2009
    Port Washington, WI
    I currently am raising chickens for eggs. I am interested in starting to raise chickens and turkey for meat.

    What is the age to process chicken and turkeys?
    Do people let their meat birds free range or just leave them in their runs?

    I as also thinking about ducks. Any type better than others and again age for these?

  2. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    Get yourself some of these:

    You process from 6 to 12 weeks depending on the size you want. You can range them or tractor them.

    After that you can try some Cornish Cross meaties. They are messy, stinky but grow fast and taste good. (6 to 8 weeks to process).

    JM also has Muscovy meat ducks. I raised some of those last year and they were incredible.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2009
  3. anthonyjames

    anthonyjames Songster

    Apr 22, 2009
    Port Washington, WI

    That was going to be my next question.

    Are there preferred types of chickens for meat?

    And it is the standard 6 - 8 weeks for any bird or longer? Seeing as the meat birds are new to me and I just started raising layers in june the whole process is new. I am trying to get all of my info set and figure out what more I need to help feed our family good quality meat and products.

    Self Sustain as much as possible.
  4. Bossroo

    Bossroo Songster

    Jun 15, 2008
    The Cornixh X is the Gold Standard for the meat chickens. Butcher at 42 days for 1-2 lb game hens... at 6 weeks for 4-5 lb friers... at 8 weeks for 6-8 lb friers... or 12 weeks for 8-13 lb roasters. These are carcass weights, not live weights. Those birds from JM hatchery will take at least 2+ weeks/ or more and they may/ or may not reach those weights. Today's dual purpose breeds will take 18-20 weeks to slaughter, however one would harvest a carcass that will be 3 1/2 - 5 pounds. Keeping them any longer and one will have a tough old bird with still a small amount of meat to eat. Spent egg layers are best used for chicken soup. One would want to educate oneself as to the protocol to raise them successfully... limit the Cornish X 's food after 3 weeks of age to 12 daylight hours full fed and without food for 12 hours at night as otherwise they will grow so fast that some chicks will develop leg or heart problems and may die. One may want to raise them in a tractor ( rather than a chicken house ) and move it daily as with great amount of consumed food will yield a great amount of excrement and odors associated with it. Some say that the dual purpose chickens have more flavor. Flavor comes with age due to additional time to deposit FAT. I found that by adding top dressed with cracked corn to their normal feed for the last 2 weeks will add the extra fat needed for that flavor. Then too, One will find from experience that it is much less expensive to purchase a day old Cornish X chick than raising one's own dual purpose breeder flock, incubate the eggs and then raising those chicks to slaughter. I raised Rhode Island reds, New Hampshire Reds, Barred Rocks, and Leghorns and various crosses thereof for decades untill 3 years ago when I discovered the cornish X. Now I order my Cornish X chicks , raise them for 6-8 weeks and then invite them to freezer camp, I can enjoy the rest of the year care and worry free. The dual purpose or Heritage breeds are just too labor, feed, power, housing and time intensive for 365 day venture for their yield.
  5. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

    Apr 6, 2007
    Quote:Bossroo covered it pretty well, as he usually does.

    Cornish are the most efficient meat producers hands down.

    Rangers, my preference, take up to 50% longer to hit their target weight but range better, are generally healthier, and in my opinion have much better texture because they are a little older and a lot more active. If you showed up at my door right now with 12 rangers or 12 cornish I'd be equally happy.

    I've raised over 100 standard breeds and mixes that I hatched from my own eggs or bought for $.30 a bird on hatchery specials. It takes 16 weeks for a standard breed to be worth anything and even then they are well under 5 pounds. The feed per pound of meat (conversion rate) is lousy. If self sustainability is that important to you than it is possible to use standards just not very economical, especially if you are buying feed for them.
  6. anthonyjames

    anthonyjames Songster

    Apr 22, 2009
    Port Washington, WI
    PurpleChicken and Bossoro,

    Thanks. I guess the thing I am looking for more is to be more self sustainable and not rely on stores, mass farms and so on. We have been trying little by little on our little 1 acre to do as much as we possibly can. From 6, 4 x 8 square foot gardens, 11 hens this year. Hopefully meat birds next year and then from there I am trying to pine away for a 5 - 10 acre lot with a nice place to possibly add a cow, goat or sheep.

    Again thanks and I will take everything you guys listed and do my homework.
  7. Buster52

    Buster52 Songster

    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    Quote:Pretty much my goal, which is why I have gone with standard Dark Cornish for my meat chickens and Bourbon Reds for my meat turkey. I have also heard good things about Buckeyes. They and the Cornish both have decent breast meat for the size of chicken they are, which is the main thing lacking in most stardard breed chickens.

    Mixing raising turkeys along with chickens more than makes up for the lack in super growth on the part of standard breed chickens, if your point is to feed your family without resorting to shipping in birds every year or buying your meat from the supermarket.

  8. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Songster

    Apr 29, 2007
    Butcher at 42 days for 1-2 lb game hens... at 6 weeks for 4-5 lb friers... at 8 weeks for 6-8 lb friers... or 12 weeks for 8-13 lb roasters

    35 days for the game hens (5 weeks)

    42 days = 6 weeks.... [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  9. jaku

    jaku Songster

    I butcher my Cornish X's at 8 weeks, and I strongly believe that a movable tractor is the way to go.
  10. houndit

    houndit There is no H or F in Orpington!

    Jul 13, 2008
    Braymer Missouri
    Quote:We started Broad Breasted Turkeys in June or July and butchered them in October. Our heritage turkeys, which is all we do now, are started usually in April or May. And butchered in October. If you do the Commercial Broilers, they are butchered at 6 to 8 weeks. I have free ranged them. They do not really range at all. However, it protects them from the heat if they can go to trees. Under tin roofs they literally cook alive.

    If you do Ducks I recommend Muscovies! They say Pekins are faster. we do Muscovies. I hatch them whenever the mothers start setting. Then butcher them in the fall. Some people say that you should wait till it freezes, to do ducks.
    I love raising Turkeys and ducks! Turkeys are more difficult than chickens. Ducks are 10 times easier than chickens.
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2009

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