Need advice on starting a meat flock

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jfarm, Apr 30, 2008.

  1. jfarm

    jfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 2, 2007
    I have resisted the idea of raising chickens for meat for a long time (I love my layers and they are truly pets). But, have now decided to raise some in the barn (where I cannot become friends with them). So, where should I start? I know the basics for raising chicks etc., but I'm not familiar with meat birds. Any suggestions on reading material? Also, I want to try to raise them completly organic, any advice on feeding?

    Thanks in advance!!
     
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:It's identical to raising your laying flock, except:

    a) Broilers just require one kind of food their entire life. It's typically called "Broiler Starter/Finisher" or sometimes "Fryer Starter/Finisher".

    b) They will spend nearly half their life in the brooder. Meat birds are generally ready at 8 weeks of age. And don't put it off for even a week, or you will have small turkeys on your hands.

    c) Instead of a stationary coop, most people use chicken tractors which can be moved daily (or twice daily). This helps you keep the birds out of their own droppings and onto fresh grass which can reduce the feed bill and help prevent disease. It also concentrates their droppings for fertilization.

    Quote:Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens:

    http://www.amazon.com/Storeys-Guide...bs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209602977&sr=8-1

    Joe Salatin's book "Pastured Poultry for Profits" is generally considered the bible, although I take extreme exception to some of his 'claims' in the book.


    Quote:There are lines of organic feed available, but do cost $20+ per 50 lb bag even when buying in bulk. You could make your own feed, which all the resources to do so are on the internet.

    In the end, for me, I feed mine a natural vegetarian complete ration rather than organic.

    Quote:The industry standard for breeds are the Cornish Cross or Jumbo Cornish Cross. Some people have exreme difficulty raising these (I always did) others raise them with no problem. You should raise a crop of them and see if it works for you. If it doesn't, there are some alternatives out there for different kinds of broilers who don't grow quite as fast, but have better disease resistance consequently.

    You CAN and should do it.
     
  3. jfarm

    jfarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for your info!! I think we are going to give it a try.
     
  4. Redfeathers

    Redfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2007
    Gervais OR
    Dont forget to go to the meat bird section here and read, read,read and read some more. It's interesting the different things you learn here. I'm on day 8 with my Cornish X and just put them in a bigger pen, they are getting big and needed more room, now they have to get up and walk to the feeder and then walk a few more feet to the waterer. Otherwise I think they would just lay around all day except for the occasion burst of energy. As soon as possible they are going outside. They are in my small barn now and it stinks even with fresh pine shavings. Be prepared to clean the brooder more often then with regular chicks. Personality wise, these little "nuggets" are docile and sweet, I pick them up easily with little protest from them. It's a learning experiance. I think I bought enough so I can't bond with any of them. I bought 20.

    Good luck, I think you will enjoy it.
     
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    You would have to be severely disabled for a Cornish X to be able to escape you! [​IMG]

    I have a neighbor here on the island who has tractors with 50 broilers in each. A racoon got in one night and apparently bit the head off each one individually. I mean wow, talk about lack of survival instincts!

    Now, I'm picking on Cornish X's a little bit, but it surely would happen to hens, too.... except they're at least smart enough to roost in rafters or trees. [​IMG]
     
  6. mmajw

    mmajw Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 31, 2008
    Maine
    They are great to raise and even better to eat. I have raised them for a few years now and it is wonderful having all that fresh chicken. When they are growing they need to be kept cooler then your layers. They generate alot of their own heat and they will overheat themselves. Make sure they have a shady spot if outside and more water than you would normally for your layers.

    Broilers are known for heart attacks as they grow at such a fast rate.

    I feed mine Grower Cal Pellets and treats like watermelon, grapes and corn.

    I slaughter mine at 8 weeks. They only stay in the brooder for about 2 weeks then I put them in a large outdoor covered pen, where they can also go in and out of the barn.

    Good luck and keep us posted. I can't wait for my 50 in June. [​IMG]
     
  7. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Nearly all those conditons can be avoided or minimized by raising alternative broilers to the Jumbo Cornish Cross. [​IMG]
     
  8. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens

    Pastured Poultry for Profits


    Both of these, together, are GREAT.
     

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