Meat chickens

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by andrewto, Jan 22, 2017.

  1. andrewto

    andrewto New Egg

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    Jan 22, 2017
    On our farm we have an old hog barn that we don't use anymore it was just sitting empty until last year when I put 25 chickens in it to be raised for meat. It worked ok and now we are thinking of getting more to put in there this summer. The barn has heat and a few fans to control temperature it has a slotted floor for the waste to fall through. There are 10 pens each is about 5x10 feet and last year the chickens stayed it the pens and didn't fly out. I am new to raising chickens so my friend helped me out this year I will do it myself. Here are some questions I have.
    What feed should I use?
    What breeds would be the best for me? Last year I had Cornish crosses. I think
    Ways to reduce costs?
    Do I need some sort of bedding?
    Do I need to let them out to roam around?
     
  2. seanengler

    seanengler Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feed-It depends on the breed. If you do some reading you will find most people doing 20-24% starter and stepping it down a few percent every couple weeks from there. For example I am doing Freedom Rangers and from the information I gathered in the meat bird forums, I've got them on 24% starter for 3 weeks, after which I plan on bumping them to 19-20% grower feed and eventually to 16-18% grower feed. Once you decide on a breed, then decide on feed.

    Breeds-it depends on your personal preference. A LOT of people raise cornish crosses on here and have great experiences. I however do Freedom Rangers because they're a little slower growing and are less prone to leg problems and I have a slight slope in the pasture I raise them on, so I figured the less leg issues the better.

    Reducing costs-shop everything. If you're shopping online, check multiple websites and check differences in shipping. If you're shopping locally, for feed especially, the feed stores near me that make their own feed are about 5 bucks cheaper per 50 pound bag. That adds up with meat birds. Check out craigslist for used equipment and see if there are MPPU in your area. (Mobile Poultry Processing Units) If you can find one of these and are able to use it as part of a COOP or something, you can save considerable money there.

    Bedding and letting them out to roam around-As far as bedding goes.....in the brooder sure if you have a solid bottom brooder. Letting them roam around, if you have the room I absolutely would. I find that if you try and incorporate as much of the chicken's chickeness, or natural behaviors into their raising, the better off they'll be and the better off you'll be. If you have the room to move them around in a pen on pasture/grass, they'll be happier and you'll be happier. No shavings and manure to clean up and free fertilizer. Google "salatin broiler pen" and check it out on youtube also and see what you think. They work pretty good.
     
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  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Brooding: heating pad brooding is more natural and will save your electricity. I don't know what your slatted floor looks like, so don't know if that is setting your chicks up for foot or other injuries compared to giving them a solid floor with bedding.

    My preference is to let chickens out to free range as much as possible. If free range is not possible, I would want them to have access to an outdoor deep litter covered run.

    Cost savings: Use dry leaves for bedding in coop. Add grass clippings and other yard debris to coop litter as it becomes available. In the run, build up a deep composting bedding with leaves, grass clippings, wood chips, garden debris, kitchen debris, and any other compostable materials. Fermented feed, starting at first week.
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    What breed is pretty subjective and depends on your goals. As far as straight cost, you can’t beat the Cornish Cross, especially if you buy most of what they eat. Their feed to meat conversion is by far the best. That leads to a certain condition though, you have to butcher them when they are ready. They grow so fast they can have heart or skeleton problems if you wait too long to butcher them, usually 6 to 8 weeks. So you are on a schedule and need a certain amount of freezer space.

    Rangers grow pretty fast but aren’t as “delicate” as the Cornish Cross. Their feed to meat conversion isn’t as good. What they were bred for was to be really good meat birds where they forage for much of their feed. Dual propose certainly are not considered good at feed to meat conversion and you have to wait quite a bit for them to grow enough to have much meat, so they can be not as tender and kind of flavorful.

    Which you get will determine how you feed them. Here is an article on how to feed Cornish Cross.

    Feeding Broilers
    http://escambia.ifas.ufl.edu/small_farms_livestock/poultry/Home_Broiler_Chicken_Flock.pdf

    I raise my dual purpose on ½” hardware cloth with no bedding so the pop falls through. I don’t have foot or leg problems. I don’t know how wide apart those slats are. If you raised them in there last year and did not have problems you will probably be OK again.

    Do Cornish Cross need to roam around? They don’t NEED to, a lot of people set it up so they don’t have to. They tend to not want to anyway, some people separate the feeders and waterers to force them to move back and forth so they get some exercise. Some people do raise them on pasture and get them to forage, especially by limiting their feed. Cornish cross are not bred to be foragers, they are bred to eat, poop, eat, poop, then do it again. Exercise might slow down the weight gain rate.

    Rangers are bred to be raised on pasture. You don’t NEED to pasture them, they will be OK confined, but a good way to save money is to let the chickens forage for part of what they eat. That’s especially true for dual purpose they grow so slow.

    Feed is probably going to be your biggest expense. Any way you can cut your feed bill the better off you are. I may repeat what some of the others said. If you can grow your own food and consider your labor free, you may be better off. If you can let them forage for some of their feed, so much the better.

    Use stuff you already have as much as you can. That can be for about anything. A common recommendation on here is to put marbles in a chick waterer to keep them from climbing in and drowning. I use free rocks I have all over the place. Instead of buying special waterers I use shallow pet bowls I already have.

    They can waste a lot of feed. Raising feeders up to the level of their backs can help with that. They often scratch in feeders or swipe their beaks sideways, removing a lot of feed. If you use something like wire mesh with openings big enough they can get the heads in to eat but can’t spoon it out with their beaks or get feet into it to scratch you can help yourself. They will stand on the feeder and poop in it if they can. Putting something over the feeder so they can’t stand on the feeder can help, often something really steep so they can’t perch up there. Putting your feeders in pans might stop a lot of the feed from going down between those slats.

    Good luck!
     

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