New to meat birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by cbascom, Dec 26, 2013.

  1. cbascom

    cbascom In the Brooder

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    Well, we are taking the plunge into meat production. Our first order of chicks will arrive Feb 3. I have probably a million questions, but only a couple that are pressing! We will be ordering 5 Cornish x (a small number, since I hear mixed things, also unsure how many we can process at once) and 15 "assorted heavies" to be processed a little older and not all at once. Filling out the required minimum with a few Easter Eggers to add to our hens. I am planning to place the brooder box (a Rubbermaid tub) in my shed as it has electric for the heat lamp and screened windows for safe ventilation. I guess I'll have to play it by ear about when to put them outside. I hear about 6-8 weeks, but also hear that I will be butchering the Cornish x then. Seems odd. My main question is the outdoor housing we are beginning construction on. The area is about 80 square feet. The meat birds will go there. (the pullets will go in a tractor near the current coop so they can get to know one another before being combined). Is that enough room for 20 birds? Of course,the cornish x will be processed early, then only 15 birds will be in there. Another question is do they need a place to roost, or just shelter? And how large does that area need to be?
    Any and all advice is welcome and much appreciated!
    Cindy
     

  2. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Songster

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    My Coop
    I put the Cornish X outside between 2 and 4 weeks, depending on the weather. In your case, I would wait until 4 weeks since it will be February. However, keep in mind that they will be HUGE at 4 weeks and will no longer be able to live in a Rubbermaid tub. I put mine in a fairly draft-free shed with plenty of straw and pine shavings and a heat lamp from the time they arrive. 1 sq ft per bird will do until 2-4 weeks depending on how often you add fresh bedding. Trust me, the 5 Cornish will outgrow the Rubbermaid tub after the first week or two.

    80 sq ft is okay for 20 birds as long as it is temporary, 15 sounds a little better. I think you should be find as long as you don't put the pullets into the mix. Cockerels have a tendency to start fighting each other if there are pullets around.

    I find that my Cornish do not roost--however, others have said provide a low roost so that they can climb onto it without hurting their legs but still fulfill their natural chicken behavior. How large their shelter is depends on the setup. If it is stable, I'd go with 3-4 sq ft per bird indoors.

    Good luck, I think that meat birds are a lot of fun [​IMG] though I know not everyone would agree.
     
  3. SIMZ

    SIMZ Crowing

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    I second everything above -- including that meat birds are a lot of fun!

    It's hard to imagine how quickly the cornish X grow, so always imagine 5 full grown chickens in any plan you have. Unless you're tub is shed-sized, it's probably not going to work for longer than a week. [​IMG] I'd also suggest adding extra feeders and waterers. I raised about 5-6 cornish X with some chicks of the same age, although I separated them at night into different shelters. The cornish always took over the feeders. The size difference made it difficult for the other chicks to get past them.
     
  4. annie82005

    annie82005 Chirping

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    We are planning on getting our first meaties in March. I have been reading everything that I possibly can to be more educated. I have been raising layers for almost a year and have had great success. Everyone is happy and healthy!
    My main question is the feed. I have read so much that it I am making it far worse than it has to be I'm sure. Do you just use the starter/grower the whole time or do you switch to the finisher? Any help would be greatly appreciated! :)
     
  5. SIMZ

    SIMZ Crowing

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    Hi there! You'll probably find as many ways to feed meaties as you will people who raise them. [​IMG] They aren't picky, and if you feed them they're going to grow!

    That said, I start them out with grower - or chick starter. Sometimes I feed them 24% the first 2 weeks and then switch to 20%. You can switch to finisher or feed them on grower until the end. I start adding scratch grains into the starter feed the last few weeks.

    You may want to keep it simple the first batch and then try different things from there. You may find a way that works better!

    Good luck!
     

  6. cstronks

    cstronks Songster

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    Be prepared for the smell...processing birds is not pretty, and the smell certainly reflects that! Good luck!
     
  7. annie82005

    annie82005 Chirping

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    Thank you! I just want to do the best that I can while they are with me. If the smell is anything like deer innards then I will be somewhat prepared for it! Lol!
     
  8. cstronks

    cstronks Songster

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    It isn't exactly like deer innards because deer digest much better than chickens. A lot of times the chickens innards will smell because they are eating right up to the point of slaughter, and their stomach contents are not pretty. Just be very careful when you butcher and try not to poke anything open!!
     
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Crowing

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    Jumping in here-- In case no one has mentioned it. Cornish and other breeds do not thrive well together. THe cornishX grow so fast that they are far bigger than ordinary chicks in no time. I found this created problems in the brooder for the non cornish x. I would definitely raise cornish X separately from all other birds.
     
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  10. annie82005

    annie82005 Chirping

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    That was my plan. To raise them separately. I have 14 egg layers, but will raise the meaties in their own tractor. I have read mixed reviews on them free ranging, but I am going to try that also.
     

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