Meat Chickens in the Garden

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by shicken2014, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. shicken2014

    shicken2014 New Egg

    Aug 13, 2014
    I would like to raise a small flock of meat chickens, but do not have the resources or construction skills to make a coop. I recently thought of penning the birds into the garden toward the end of the growing season when much of the veggies are done producing. Then the chickens can eat up the old vegetation, aerate the soil with their scratching and foraging, and fertilize the plot for next year's planting season. I think it's a good plan but I don't know much about raising chickens yet. Here's some of my questions:
    1) If I get pullets, which I plan to, how long should it be til processing time?
    2) What is the best breed for meat chickens?
    3) If they can feed off the old vegetation and bugs, do I need to provide feed for them as well?
    4) Any ideas for an easy shelter (what size?) since these birds will only need it for a short time and I will want to remove it from the garden when they are gone.
    Thanks for any help you can give this novice!
  2. rc4u

    rc4u Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 3, 2014
    well 8-9 weeks till butcher and mine were 5 #'s dressed and some more....corish x's are the fastest meat bird to butcher...they can forage in your garden but should at least have a refrigerator box to go in at nite then you can burn it when done...and just stake it down...yes they will need feed as they cant forage enough for food but do take it away every 12 hours...
  3. shicken2014

    shicken2014 New Egg

    Aug 13, 2014
    Thanks for the info! When you say 8-9 wks til butcher, is that from the time I receive them as pullets or from chicks? Also, when I take the feed away every 12 hours, how long til I give the feed again? Thanks for the easy shelter idea, sounds very doable. I want to time their arrival (and departure) so they are processed before the frost so I don't need to worry about more permanent housing.
  4. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 2, 2009
    North Texas
    ...what are your plans to protect them from predators...those little butterballs couldn't even run away...
  5. ChaoSS

    ChaoSS Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 24, 2014
    You don't really buy Cornish x as anything but day old chicks. Butcher time can be anywhere from 6 weeks to 12 weeks depending on how big you want them, females grow a little slower but most people go around 8 weeks. They do need feed, they may supplement from the vegetation but you need to provide most of their feed.

    As for shelter when mine came out of the brooder box they went in a little run I built against the side of my house, the shelter was a piece of plywood leaned against the wall. Ymmv, I didn't have to worry about freezing cod or wind. The tin itself was built of 28 inch high wire fencing, sold at Lowes to keep rabbits out of your garden. I also put electric wire around that to keep my dogs at bay. My dogs keep everything else at bay.

    My experience with Cornish was that even given access to green plans and bugs they ate very little and mostly only ate the crumbles I gave them. Others have a very different experience. If you want birds that forage better there are other breeds but you may not get a decent sized carcass for the better part of half a year.

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