meaties on the "cheap" and easy

roo-many

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 2, 2012
43
2
89
We have been keeping layers for 3 years now, but we just hatched 11 Cornish x chicks via an educational program, and hubby wants to try raising them. Feed cost projections are staggering, and we have no shelter for them yet. What are the best tips you veterans have for keeping it simple?
 
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wvhomesteader

In the Brooder
May 5, 2015
78
8
43
Our Cornish X are about 2:1 right now. (2lb of feed to yield 1lb meat)
We raise them to about 7lb on the average so that means they will eat about 14lb of food in their lifetime.

Most CX are in the 2:1 range so figure how many birds x 12-14lb of feed in their short life.

It's $12 for 50lb of feed at my local TSC.
 
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roo-many

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 2, 2012
43
2
89
Our Cornish X are about 2:1 right now. (2lb of feed to yield 1lb meat)
We raise them to about 7lb on the average so that means they will eat about 14lb of food in their lifetime.

Most CX are in the 2:1 range so figure how many birds x 12-14lb of feed in their short life.

It's $12 for 50lb of feed at my local TSC.
Really? That is great news. I had read 500 lbs for 25 birds, 600 lbs for 30 birds on here, so I was thinking these would $12 chickens.
 
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SoFFarm

Hatching
5 Years
Jan 23, 2015
6
0
7
Even at 3:1 (What I budgeted for on our first run of 50, accounting for waste and what not) and processing at average 7 lbs it's about one 50 lb bag of feed to 3 birds. At $12 (average rate locally for standard starter and feed, we pay $2 more per bag for non-gmo ) its $4 per bird or so, not accounting for all the other expenses ;) Make sure you have a feeder that can accommodate all at once as they'll end up fighting over it of not. I also pour feed on the ground in several locations so they can all eat, though I have 42 currently.

I just processed the first of our meaties (we have raised layers for 1.5 yrs and have processed some of the roosters) at 7 weeks and I am very impressed. The largest of the flock is easily 8 lbs and I did one fryer size about 4 pounds since she had a busted leg and the meat development on her totally surpasses any heritage breed rooster by far.

Shelter wise they need something secure, that was the hardest part for me as I got behind but was going to build a new shelter for them with a large open run but I ended up fencing off half of one of our layer coops and gave them a run behind it. It wouldnt be nearly enough space for layers, as ours forage quite a bit (twice as many get half as much feed as the meaties) but it is perfect for them as they are very lazy except when eating. They wont need to roost so any shelter you build can have a low height if necessary.

I did this batch all on feed, as it is my first and somewhat large (to me) amount of chickens at one time so these didnt free range at all, which could significantly lower your feed bill, though I think it is reasonable already. I did feed a non gmo ration which we also give to our layers and it is comprised of whole grains and looks like you could add water and make a soup from it, vs the layer crumbles from TSC or SS or whatever.
 

SoFFarm

Hatching
5 Years
Jan 23, 2015
6
0
7
Even at 600 lbs for 30 birds, which is probably a realistic number for a first time backyarder would be 12 bags x $12 = $144 / 30 = close to $5 / bird which is still under $1/lb in feed cost, so not bad at all.
 

roo-many

Chirping
7 Years
Jun 2, 2012
43
2
89
Even at 600 lbs for 30 birds, which is probably a realistic number for a first time backyarder would be 12 bags x $12 = $144 / 30 = close to $5 / bird which is still under $1/lb in feed cost, so not bad at all.
hmmm! Well, a.) It's possible that I forgot to carry a one or something; b.), I didn't realize people were raising 7lb birds for the 20 lbs of feed; I thought they would be 4-5lbs. Thank you! I did the math again and it all pencils out. Also, we only have 11, since we did not end up receiving any extras form the program after all, so I won't have to buy 500 lbs of anything :)
 

Nupe

Songster
5 Years
Jun 13, 2014
593
213
156
Georgia
Just to throw it out there for future reference if cheaper than the grocery store is the ultimate goal...

Do you have any commercial broiler farms near you? If so, those farmers have to deal with rejects about every 8 weeks and a lot of them just give them away or kill/compost them because until they are gone, the chicken company will not bring any new birds. My brother has an 8 house farm and that's where I get mine.

Also, the commercial farms use 2 different kinds of feeds, a medicated grower and non-medicated finisher. Once the finished birds are out, the feed lines have to be purged to switch back to the grower. I just bring as many 5 gallon buckets as I can find to fill up. Last time I filled 12 buckets from one line feeding 2 houses. The rest is dumped and cleaned out with the litter. I don't feed this stuff to my layers but the meaties do fine on it for as long as I keep them.

Going into these houses are not for the feint of heart. My family has been doing commercial chicken longer than I've been alive. Over the years the smell has improved but it still stinks. I choose the small rejects rather than injured for obvious reasons. I like to get them at various sizes so I won't need to process them all at once. I usually grab between 40-50 birds a couple of times a year.

I might be considered mean for how I keep them but I don't have anything with a floor that can withstand the mess they make so they get to re-acclimate themselves to the "jungle." I have a shed attached to a run which they never figure out how to get into. The shed is where the culls get separated in to "purge" before we process. The run has a huge oak tree, an over grown pear tree, an over grown tulip tree and various other saplings that they can get under to protect themselves from the elements. We've had several rainy days with a few heavy downpours and I didn't lose any, so they're fine.

I process about a dozen a week as they plump up. They smell much better than the day I picked them up. The fresh air does them wonders and I believe they still taste better than the grocery store chicken.

My cost for chicken is $0 + elbow grease.
 

SoFFarm

Hatching
5 Years
Jan 23, 2015
6
0
7
Depends on your area really...I live outside a small metro area with a large agricultural population. TSC is about the same on feed here though. There are at least 2 local mills though, its 12 a bag direct from them for regular crumbles and 14 for non gmo.

All things are relative though, its hard for us to get 3.50-4$ a dozen for eggs BC so many people have chickens. In fact, I saw a coop for sale at Sam's club here..
 

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