Meat flock size

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by hobgoodacres, Feb 5, 2016.

  1. hobgoodacres

    hobgoodacres New Egg

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    I was wondering what the recommendations are for the number of hens and roosters I should purchase to supply plenty of meat for a family of six?
     
  2. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is going to depend on how often you eat chicken and how much you eat per meal, then decide if you want to raise them all at once or in a couple different batches. If you eat chicken once or twice a week with 6 people eating per meal it will be a substantial amount of birds, splitting into multiple batches will save you freezer space
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2016
  3. hobgoodacres

    hobgoodacres New Egg

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    With 3 of the kids being younger; we eat chicken several times a week 5-10 times per week. The other kid is a teenage boy, so we eat a fair amount each meal. I'm looking a few batches a year. I'm wanting to get a self-sustaining flock going; so I'm also not sure how many batches I can get each year.
     
  4. hobgoodacres

    hobgoodacres New Egg

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    I guess I should say, I need a lot of guidance in how many to purchase, how often to have them hatch, when and how to select replacement roosters and hens to breed more, etc.
     
  5. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Have you raised chickens in the past and are you aware of the difference in flavor, texture, carcass size and proportion between modern grocery store chicken and a dual purpose or slower growing meat bird?
    I only ask because there is a substantial difference between the 2 and if you think you want the proportion, size, flavor of the modern grocery store chicken it will be next to impossible to get a self sustaining flock going. If you are ok with a slower growth rate, more flavor, chewier texture due to the older age to butcher and less breast meat then being self sustaining is achievable.
     
  6. hobgoodacres

    hobgoodacres New Egg

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    Although it has been a long time since I've eating a farm raised bird, I'm aware there is a difference in the two. As the cost of everything is ridiculous now, we will have to learn to like it. We're just not sure how large of a flock to start with.
     
  7. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well first you will need to decide what kind of chicken to raise, since meat is your goal I would suggest using one of the slower meat hybrids like the rainbow or red ranger. It will give a bird with a faster growth rate than the regular laying birds. The rainbows lay a decent amount of eggs too. They're hybrids so they won't breed true you will have to select your breeding birds of the best meat bird traits and eat the rest and after a few generations you should have a decent meat line.
    The old time dual purpose breeds aren't the same as they used to be when dealing with hatcheries, the modern versions are smaller and will lay well but have went down hill as far as meat goes, you could use them but it would take a while to breed them back to a decent carcass size, if you go that route you would be better off to get some decent breeding stock from a breeder who has already worked towards improving their line.
    As for numbers you can get as many as you feel comfortable with or have room for, by the sound of it you won't have any problem using the meat. The slow meat birds will take around 12 weeks to grow out so factor that in, then you will want to keep a couple of the best fastest growth roosters and some hens for your breeding and eat the rest. Your first few batches will likely come from the hatchery since it will obviously take a awhile for your breeding stock to mature. You will likely need an incubator too.
     
  8. hellbender

    hellbender Overrun With Chickens

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    I'm a great proponent of caponization which allows one to keep a heavy amount of tender flesh 'on the hoof', thus allowing them to continue gaining delicious tender meat for up to and even over 2 years and keeps the freezer open for other things. A good all-'rounder is the White Rock. Hens are grand layers and good stew birds after they are spent and the cockerels flesh out nicely for early fryers but as I say earlier in the post, make for delicious capons when castrated at about 6 weeks or so. We can caponize at three to 3 weeks but just a bit later is fine and easier for beginners to learn.
     
  9. birds4kids

    birds4kids Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just to spell it out a bit more plainly and expand on what has already been said. Hybrid commercial roasters are going to dress out probably 5-6lbs in like 8 weeks bigger if you let them go to 10 weeks and will begin to suffer health issues by 12 weeks, chicks are readily available at say $1.35 apiece and $20 shipping.
    They are purely meant for meat, they eat and poop and do little else.
    Freedom Rangers(sold by many names) while sometimes quoted as slaughter size by 12 weeks I think most reports say that is early, still a hybrid will not breed true but also more of a traditional chicken that will move around and forage and such.
    After that you get into true breeds that can sustain but often looking at 22 weeks for slaughter size, by then males if not caponized have long since been acting like roosters, fighting, crowing, meat getting tough all that fun stuff.

    If anyone sees a flaw in that please post. I am NOT experienced in all this yet this is just what I have come up with in my research.
     
  10. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you are trying to raise your own birds to save money, forget it. If you are trying to raise your own birds because you want better tasting meat that you know was raised well, then go right ahead.
     
    1 person likes this.

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