Need solutions for raising meat birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Charlene, Nov 19, 2013.

  1. Charlene

    Charlene Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2008
    I've raise three groups of meat birds so far. The first were Cornish crosses that I fed 12 hours a day. I let them live with the laying hens. They grew fast, I lost about 10% and they were kind stink and dirty, but otherwise I was satisfied. They would have been 6-7 lbs at 10 weeks but my neighbors dogs killed them 2 days before slaughter.

    The second set of cornishes I did in a tractor. I rationed their food by weight per day. They took forever to grow (colder? food? I don't know). I processed at about 12 weeks and they were 5-6 lbs.

    The third set was unintentional Australops that came free with the cornishes. I let them live with the layers. They were a good size at 6 months, about 5-6 lbs. BUT they were a nightmare at the end, they were all roos, crowing all the time, fighting, raping my layers. It was really traumatic. At 5 moths I culled half of them (and they were small 3-4lbs), and still with 5 roos and 5 layers, it was mayhem.

    So.... I'm curious what other people do. I would like for the meaties to free range which basically means they have to be with my layers. I cannot have my ladies stressed like that again. Even my soft hearted husband was ready to kill the roos at the end. Should I try heritage hens? How big will they get? Or perhaps freedom rangers? I could just do the cornishes again, as I recall they were too lazy to try to rape anyone, but they were a little sad to see, and they clearly couldn't escape the dogs (thought most of the others were killed too). I didn't love the tractor experience. I don't think they really got much in "pasture", they might as well have been in a coop, despite the fact that I moved it twice a day. Ideas?
  2. Gryphon

    Gryphon Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2012
    Would you be able to invest in electric poultry netting? With that, you could try out the cornish x again in a "free range" style but with more protection, and more space than a tractor. Plus you could rotate pastures by moving the fencing, letting the land rest and giving them fresh grazing.
  3. pipemum

    pipemum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 8, 2013
    Can you try the tractor combined with letting them out a couple of times a day? I have meaties in a pen, and they are let out with my layers for a few hours a day. If you combine their feeding time with their free-ranging time, it is really easy to get them back in the tractor!
  4. Charlene

    Charlene Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2008
    Hmmm, I guess I should have put a door on my tractor. It's currently just a large rectangle, I lift it up and the top opens. But maybe I could figure out some way to get them and in out. That's an idea.

    As far as I remember the Cornish roos aren't interested in mating. Was that the case for you?
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    The Cornish cross are butchered before they reach sexual maturity, so no, they're not interested in mating. If they live long enough, yeah, they'll be interested, but if you butcher at 8 or even 12 weeks, not so much.

    I think your first batch sounds like the way to go. Have you seen Aoxa's threads on free ranging Cornish? he has good info. No reason these birds can't free range with layer hens, I've done it on a small scale and had good results.

    Oh yeah---SSS that dog.
  6. Angelicisi

    Angelicisi Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 26, 2013
    Baton Rouge area
    My Coop
    I agree, CX would be the way to go to keep the tension of aggressive roos away.
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Have you checked out the thread on this section about fermented feeds? It might help you with the stink, the mortality rate and expense of raising CX.

    I'll tell you what did recently and am doing again this weekend....peruse the ads for people giving away batches of free roosters of processing age. There are many out there who use their Easy Bake Ovens(incubators) quite often but have no intention of ever killing a chicken and also cannot keep roosters where they live. They foot the feed bill on these roosters to get them to killing age and then advertise them for free. I bring them home and feed them for a couple of weeks on fermented feeds to get the meat healthier and better tasting and then I process them. Then I can them to improve the tenderness and render stock for soup.

    I can stand the crowing for 2 wks as they are penned a good ways from the house and I didn't have the expense of raising them to the proper age, so I'm eating very cheap meats for the cost of a few weeks worth of feed. The rest of my flock continue to free range as per usual without being bothered by the cheap meat roosters and everyone is happy.

    This weekend I am bringing home 12 large fowl of various breeds of 7 mo. or older. That will make approximately 20-22 jars of canned meat and stock. The fermented feed makes the meat such a mild, flavorful tasting meat that I've never tasted better in all my life...and I've been eating home grown chickens since I was a little girl.

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