new to chickens

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by cheeze, Oct 6, 2008.

  1. cheeze

    cheeze Time Out

    Oct 6, 2008
    middle TN
    I went and bought 94 sex link/buff orp mixed chicks its about half and half . they are in a brooder box home built and am looking to free range more . they have been out 3 times on grass they scratch good already

    got them local which turned out to be harder than i thought in middle TN i paid 1.20 each and they were 2 weeks old with some wing feathers.

    so now im wondering if these are gonna turn out good for meat ,how long to get to the right size? do you just kill them all off and start over each time or is it worth it to keep hens and roosters to make more chicks later.

    im almost wondering if its not smarter to have like 20 broody hens around now so u always have staggered ages of chickens runin around ready to be killed.

    yeah lot of subjects in one post . i have been reading a lot of the forum then decided to join to get some more thoughts on starting out in meat birds. so i had like 20 things on my mind .
  2. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Keep your best hens and process the rest.
  3. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Sounds like you need to do a bit of breed research before you buy your next batch.

    You don't have any meat birds, you have a layer breed, (the sex links) and a dual-purpose breed (the Orpingtons). What you could do is keep some of the best layers for eggs, and sell the extras as laying hens, from both breeds. Production run hatchery Orpingtons may or may not brood eggs for you, the sex links are very unlikely to brood at all.

    Dual purpose breeds are not really meat birds, people just consider the roos big enough to be worth the bother when you inevitably end up with excess roos. By the time they get big enough to eat, they will tend to be tough, but turn out good in the crock pot.

    You can, of course, eat any breed, but those you have won't grow very fast, nor will they have much meat, even when mature. I eat my excess roos of whatever breed, rather than have them become a huge nuisance, (which they will) unless I get a chance to sell some.

    If you want meat birds, you need one of the many broiler breeds available, such as Cornish X or color rangers, or an old-fashioned breed better suited to meat production, such as a Delaware. Some say Buckeyes are really great, and others are sometimes recommended. Some reading up on various breeds helps a lot.

    If you want broody hens, you need a breed that tends to go broody easily. I've had the best luck with Light Brahma, black Australorp, and dark Cornish. Cochins are good, and many bantams make great moms. Some people keep a few bantam hens just to brood the eggs from other hens.

    Most hens won't brood in the winter, many only brood in the spring, nearly all are somewhat unpredictable. You can't really plan on hens raising meat birds for you though you could get a few clutches during the warm part of the year. If you have hens you want to hatch eggs from for meat birds, your best bet is an incubator. Use a standard Cornish roo over a Delaware or other breed of hen, (not another standard Cornish, the purebreds are slow growers) save up a couple dozen eggs. Hatch them out, raise them for 9-12 weeks and put them in the freezer.

    There are tons of thread about the pros and cons of various breeds for meat. Likewise with what's the best layer, everybody has a different opinion. It will take awhile for you to find out what breeds best suit what you want to do. Good luck, hang in there, you'll work it out.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2008
  4. Quote:Very well stated, and written....
  5. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    The sex link males make hoarable meat birds. we had 8 this year from a meat bird assortment. They dress out at barley 2 pounds after 15 weeks, when the rest were closer to 3 pounds and over. They were also very mean birds compared to the rest, even the Road Island Reds.
  6. cheeze

    cheeze Time Out

    Oct 6, 2008
    middle TN
    Quote:In my defense I did ask local people lol and the girl I bought them from goes "oh yeah they will make great meat birds" .

    I had a neighbor ask to buy all my pullets so I may go that route if i can figure out which ones are pullets lol.

    If i am understanding right the black sex link rooster will have white on him and the hen will feather out with some red ?

    If so i only have 2 birds with any white on them.

    All the buff orps look the same to me so i have no idea about them.
  7. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    I hope you didn't take my post as an attack, I didn't mean it that way.

    As for the color of your sex links, I don't know, there are a lot of different strains, I have no idea which one you have. There are Red Stars, Black Stars, Golden Comets, and many, many, more. I don't raise sex links, I've only read about them and looked at a lot of pics. This may help:

    When they get feathered out a bit, (may take 6 weeks, or more for gender-distinctive feathering to develop) look at the feathers on the neck, (the "cape") and on the back down toward the tail. The tips of the roo's feathers will be kind of pointy, the pullets will be rounded. Once in a while I see a pullet with sort-of-pointy neck feathers, but never down near the tail. Those are always rounded. The hens will also have usually have tail feathers that stick up, (a few hens tail feathers kind of droop a little, but they never get those long sickle feathers) roos will grow droopy, curved, "sickle" feathers in the tails.

    By "research", I mean either go to the library and find books about poultry breeds, or do web searches and read about the characteristics of different breeds. (or both) Poultry forums like this one are also good for getting feedback from people who have tried different breeds. But the best time to do this is before you buy 94 birds, not after! But of course, some people don't realize that they can find all this info on the web until they've already jumped in. Maybe that's what you did. I alway do web searches on the subject before I start any new project, so I don't get too many unpleasant surprises. You can't be totally prepared for anything involving poultry or other animals, but it helps a lot.

    I constantly see posts from people who buy the wrong breeds for what they want. People buy non-setters and try to "make" them brood, or buy broody breeds and try to "break them from brooding". Better to find out what breeds are best suited for your purposes to begin with, and go with those.

    This site has a ton of info, links, and good photos.
    You can look up scads of different breeds and read brief descriptions of them. They have links to clubs and breeders for most breeds. You can get more info from them. This is a good site to look at the feathering of roos and pullets to see the differences I was talking about above. They have some good pics of sex links, too, maybe you can find out what kind you have.

    This hatchery,
    good pictures and descriptions, except that for standard breeds they don't ell you how long it takes a bird to reach the weights they give. So if a white rock gets up to about 8 lbs, that sounds good for a meat bird, but they don't tell you it takes almost a year for them to get that big. (At 10-12 weeks a white rock will only dress out to about 2 1/2 lbs)

    They will, however, tell you which breeds make good setters and mothers. And which are good layers.

    Here's a chart that can be helpful, but don't take anything it says as a final word. Some inaccuracies have been mentioned by some of the members here, so it's only a rough guide.

    hatchery birds: for many folks, hatchery birds work out just fine. For serious breeding, you need better quality birds from a show breeder or preservation society. Behavior, eggs laying, broodiness, body conformation, etc., will often vary from the true breed in hatchery stock. For example, while a pure bred Orpington of good stock may get huge, be a great mom, and be sweet and gentle, you may get non-setter hens and evil tempered roos from a hatchery. Or not. Most hatchery birds will be fine, but there is some variation, and it's nice to be aware of that to begin with. Even from a breeder, as far far as behavior goes, there are no guarantees. There are strong tendencies, however, in most cases they'll follow type pretty well.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: