New Farmer

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by BackyardAR, Jun 19, 2010.

  1. BackyardAR

    BackyardAR In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2010
    Not sure how I got here, but here I am.

    Like any project I undertake I read and read to learn as much as I can before getting going. I see too many catastrophes from people that jump in without looking.

    So I've been reading numerous websites, forums, faqs, etc, making my plan to fit my needs. While I appreciate being pointed to a particular post when I ask a question, I don't welcome those posts where someone says, "why don't you try reading the forums." Believe me, I've had enough of these sustaining projects and visited many sites where the people were very much less than helpful. So far, your site here looks very helpful and supportive and I appreciate that.

    So here's my plan. I want enough eggs for my family(4.5 people... can explain that later), and I want to raise meat chickens quarterly. I have breeds in mind, but still need further information about them to see if they really are the right choice. Some of the questions I still have may very well modify my initial choices.

    For my laying hens I was going to get 3 or 4 Pearl-white leghorns. The literature I read indicated that I could get 900+ eggs from just three of them. The eggs I don't need will go to my parents and in-laws.

    For my meat birds I was planning on Cornish X Rock hybrids. The reason I posted this introduction here is most of my concerns and questions about about these birds.

    The general information I found about raising chicks indicated that they would be in a brooding box for the first 60 days of their lives.... 8 weeks. However, Cornish Xs are generally harvested starting at about this time. In going over all the posts here it seems like these chicks can leave the brooder box WAY before 60 days. Many of the chicks I see already in a tractor don't even seem to have complete plumage so I was wondering what exact criteria you use to determine when these chicks are ready to go outside.

    The second question I had about these chickens is temperature. One day old chicks should be held at 95-100 or so it seems, and the temp lowered 5 degrees every week until you hit 70. There's no way here in Arkansas I 'm going to get a brooder box to 70 degrees without air conditioning it, so that information seems off somehow. Besides that, the comment above seems to preclude you keeping them in a brooder that long anyway. So, my question is, as long as you keep them from getting chilled, is the scaled temperature really necessary. It's 95+ here today with a heat index of over 105. I see that Cornish X birds are "hot" metabolically. What's TOO hot for them. I see posts where birds aren't eating because of the heat. I plan on tractoring my birds and do have some shady places I can do this, but I don't think I can easily supply them with any method to cool down(like a fan).

    On a similar note when I do get my chicks I plan on keeping them in a permanent brooding box I'm going to build and it will have a light and holes for ventilation as well as being able to be left open with a screened top. As hot as it is outside I worry more about them being too hot. It will get down into the upper 70s, lower 80s at night, so I know I'll have to have a light there, and maybe this can be worked out by keeping the light on a timer or themostat. Ideas? Warnings?

    Ok, sorry it's so long, and I imagine that's not all of it anyway. As far as suggestions go I guess the only thing to keep in mind is that at this point I'm not interested in what's cheapest, though I am a big DIYer. I'm not made of money, but it's just not one of my top concerns right now. My main concerns are keeping my chickens alive, healthy, and to get the most out of them for my effort.

    Thanks very much for your time.
  2. fargosmom

    fargosmom Songster

    Dec 27, 2008
    Pasadena, CA
    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]
    I don't raise meaties so I can't speak to that, but in general the lowering temps re: chicks is for areas/climates where the ambient temperature is lower - it's more important at the start that the chicks don't get chilled while they are working on growing their own feathers. Once they're feathered they're pretty sell self-insulated, although there are definitely breeds that do better in hot weather so you might want to keep that in mind during your research. But you probably don't have to worry about the temperature drop thing if you're going to be growing the chicks at this time of year, as long as they don't get chilled at night. Good luck and cheers!
  3. scubaforlife

    scubaforlife Songster

    Jul 13, 2009
    I raise both layers and meaties.

    You brood CXs for about 3 weeks, then you can move them to confinement raising or into a pasture/tractor setup. Its up to you and your style. I provide a light in a corner of my brooder, the chicks will come and go under the light as they need it. I don't do large batches so it works for me.

    CXs can be harvested around 7 weeks, so figure 3 weeks brooding and 4 weeks raising/finishing.

    As far as heat and CXs go, this is where IMO they aren't a great bird. They get too hot when the temp is over 85 and start keeling over. I have found that Freedom Rangers are better suited for the heat and seem to be happier in general. Remember, opinions are like belly-buttons, everyone has one.

    I like Joel Salatin and his setup at Polyface Farm. If you are so inclined, read Pastured Poultry Profit$, just head down to the library.
  4. BackyardAR

    BackyardAR In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2010
    What about winter months? What's too cold for adult CXs? If I'm planning on raising all year then am I going to have to plan a static coop as well for confinement raising?
  5. mboreham1

    mboreham1 Songster

    Dec 14, 2009
    Carmichael, CA
    I have never raised meaties so i will leave comment to the experienced ones!

    i will outlay my set up as you strike me as a detailed person, you can then determine how helpful my post is!

    I have 7 birds, 3 Rhode Island Reds (RIR's) 3 Plymouth Barred Rocks (BR) and one bantam belgian d'uccle (Mille Fleur coloring) They live in a 9x4 coop with a 6x16 run. I am in Northern CA, the temps in the summer range from 60's all the way up to 110. In the winter it gets down to 30 degrees, very rarely below that, never snow.

    Firstly, chickens are tough birds. Mostly if you get them through the first couple weeks you will be amazed at what they can deal with. If your temps dont drop much below high 70's at night, after a week or so, i would be inclined to get them outside, with a heat lamp for another week or so, the quicker they are outside the quicker they will feather out. As for your higher temps, if it is possible get a 5 gallon bucket, fill it with ice an put the lid on, put it in the coop, if they are hot, they will sit on it, if they are not they will steer clear. I really wouldnt worry about the lower temps, in general we worry FAR to much. There are a lot of wild chickens around where i live, they are still here after what was a cold winter and temps dropped to 25 or 24 degrees.

    I raised the 3 BR's from 1 day old back in late Feb. My chicks were in the brooder for 3 weeks, then outside thereafter with a heat lamp for another week, make sure they always have water and shade and you should be good to go, however i assume it is a little more humid with you, i dont have any experience with chickens and high temps. The 3 RIR and 1 D'uccle i have had since they were 9 weeks old, last summer, it was regularly over 100 degrees, they were fine, the drank a lot and panted but were fine.

    As for the amount of eggs, remember the numbers you have are averages and if they are all the same age, they will all quit laying at the same times at certain times of the year. Generally they lay less in the winter (shorter hours of light) they will also quit laying when they molt - generally around 1 year old. If you have 4.5 people to feed, obviously it depends on how many eggs you eat, but lets say you want to average 3 eggs a day, i suggest you get 5 laying birds, even in the summer months of good laying, they take days off. RIR's are seen as good layers, i get an average of 2.5 eggs per bird per week. I would spread the purchase of the 5 birds out probably 3 first and another 2, 3 to 4 months later.

    Good luck and welcome to sustainable farm living!
  6. BackyardAR

    BackyardAR In the Brooder

    Jun 19, 2010
    I know this is a meaty thread but the last post makes me ask...

    Can you keep your layers laying all year round by putting a light in the coop during the winter to keep the perceived photoperiod extended?

    If so, does that have any detrimental effects on your layers?
  7. PunkinPeep

    PunkinPeep Songster

    Mar 31, 2009
    SouthEast Texas
    Welcome to BYC, BackyardAR!

    On that last question you had, you will get about as many opinions on that as BYCers have belly buttons. Some people do keep a lamp on them to hike up sunlight hours. Others rage against the idea. I figure if chickens originated near the equator, then they can probably handle 14 hours of light all year round. But like i said (and scubaforlife said)....remember the belly buttons.

    A lot of breeds are described as winter hardy and will easily lay throughout the winter. Of course, this depends how harsh your winter is also.

    As to keeping chicks in a brooder box for 8 weeks....Lord have mercy! I would never keep chicks in my house for eight weeks! But that's my belly button. I live in Texas, and we built an outdoor brooder because, well, it's just nicer and because most of the year the temperatures are warm enough that the chicks will barely use the lamp. I don't raise Cornish X. I raise dual purpose breeds, but still.
  8. SteveH

    SteveH Songster

    Nov 10, 2009
    West/Central IL
    My CX , Easter Eggers and straight Cornish went into a tractor at 4 weeks and IMHO all of them could have been out earlier . The CX are hot birds even with poor feathering ; they served to keep the others warm at night LOL .

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