new to meat chickens, help!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by brogerschwiler, Mar 26, 2015.

  1. brogerschwiler

    brogerschwiler New Egg

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    Hey everyone so I am really considering ordering some meat birds this year and raising them, last year I got some layers so I am still new to the chicken thing but love raising them. I have been doing lots of research trying to figure out what breed I want and if I want pullets or cockerels? My tsc has broilers and I thought that that's what I wanted since they would be quick to raise but they aren't good in the heat and can have quite the heart and leg problems so now I'm not sure, also some people say their meat doesn't taste as good as a heritage breed? so what are your opinions? Go with a broiler or a slower growing dual purpose bird? And pullet or cockerel or straight run?
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Your choice. There are pros and cons either way. Home raised meat will be delicious. You'll not save a lot of money, but that's not why we do what we do, is it? Broilers, or Cornish X Rocks will be done in 6 - 8 weeks. If you limit their feed, you'll avoid a lot of the leg/heart issues, unless you get a poorly bred batch. They don't do well in heat. An other option is Rangers or Dixie Rainbows which forage better, grow out slower (finish at around 12 weeks). Either way, start slow, and try one or the other, or some of each. It's a short term commitment, so you can change your plan next year if it doesn't work well for you.
     
  3. JulieNKC

    JulieNKC Overrun With Chickens

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    Both. :)
    I prefer the taste of broilers honestly. It doesn't have as strong a flavor or the same texture of a heritage bird, but that's fine with me. I did heritage (buckeyes)last year. They were great in soup and dumplings, much better flavor. Not enough meat to feed my family with one by itself though unless in soup or something similar. I couldnt just cook them any way i wanted and have them come out good,had to be something low and slow pretty much. They also took double the amount of time, space, feed, and work for less meat.
    Broilers get a bad rap, IMO, they don't entirely deserve. People tend to forget before they came along chicken was expensive, and most people preferred other meat which they felt more worth it for the price. Chicken was for Sunday dinner only, and only in season pretty much. Broilers have been developed because people wanted an efficient, fast growing, versatile meat, and that's what they are.
    Try a few broilers, and a few dual purpose too, see which you prefer. I find the broilers easier for the first time. Much easier to butcher when the time comes because they aren't meant to live long lives. They're fat, they don't do well in the heat, their bones and joints dont keep up well past a certain size,and even with special care will never thrive really once they get big, so justifying putting them in my freezer was easier for me. The pullets are a little smaller, but still provide plenty of meat, just an extra week or two of growing. Less feathers to pluck, and being younger they are easier to pluck. Although by the time the dual purpose boys were big enough their teenage hormones had kicked in and I was tired of the fighting, crowing, not being able too free range then and my layers at the same time, etc, so there's that.
     
  4. vsmenagerie

    vsmenagerie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I like broilers. They grow fast and if you are careful with them, you can have a really good experience. They are voracious eaters, so feeding time can be fun depending on how many you have and what your set up is. I put pvc pipe cut in half along the sides of my tractor, so its easier to feed them. Mine always forage and do well, Ive only had one batch where I had some leg issues and that was bad stock. otherwise, I tend to process around 8-10 weeks and get really nice finished birds for the freezer. I think if you get them foraging and feed them right, you will be pleased with them. I have done one batch of red rangers and I preferred the cornish to them personally.
     
  5. brogerschwiler

    brogerschwiler New Egg

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    our tsc starts deliveries in April so I don't know if I should try them in the spring so it's not as hot or go later on in the summer/ early fall, since they don't do good in heat lots of people seem to like them in the fall. What would you recommend for gender can you taste a difference in pullets and cockerels is one more tender and juicy or tougher than the other? or should I just go with the straight run so I get a mix?
     
  6. vsmenagerie

    vsmenagerie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ive raised a few batches over the summer, and they did ok. but it depends on how hot you get, we have milder summers here, 98 is the highest we see and its only a day or two. You can use a sprinkler to keep around their pen damp which can help keep them cooler and give them shade, and keep them with lots of water. they drink a ton!

    I think you will mainly find straight runs available on the broilers. I don't notice any difference in flavor, its mainly size, since the roosters grow bigger. Which I love since I love roasting whole birds and they make great roasters :)
     
  7. GREEN TOP HONEY

    GREEN TOP HONEY New Egg

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    Im going to start with the Cornish X. Do i do just like Heritage breeds and start them off on grower feed then switch to ? Ive raised layers for the past 2 years and have had no problems, except for the darn dogs killing a few. Do the meaties have to be locked up at nite like the layers? I want to free range so im not relying on commercial feed as much. Thanks
     
  8. WildfireSmitty

    WildfireSmitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would lock them up at night, it doesn't take much to scare them and send them all scattering into the corner, where you will end up finding pancake birds the next morning.
    They are a bit tough to get them to free range when they get a bit bigger in size (they are a lazy breed) For the first little bit you may have to manually push them out and restrict feed to get them outside.They will eventually get the hang of going out to find food.

    Your looking at about 3 weeks of starter then on to grower.
     
  9. GREEN TOP HONEY

    GREEN TOP HONEY New Egg

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    Apr 20, 2014
    thank you
     
  10. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've raised CX broiler types, one set from a hatchery and one from TSC. I've raised 3 different orders of Freedom Rangers from Freedom Ranger Hatchery as well as "Red Rangers" and a batch of Dual Purpose Heritage roosters. My favorites and the ones I'm doing again this year are the Freedom Rangers. Both sets of CX had a really high mortality rate. I think that might be because I live at 8,000ft of altitude and the issues they have with their hearts is just amplified at our altitude. They did have a very nice looking and tasting finished product with a higher percentage of white meat to dark meat than the other breeds, but I lost almost a third of them between getting them and butchering day. Both the Freedom Rangers and the Red Rangers have been very healthy and have nice 3.5 - 6lb processed weights that are flavorful and good for roasting, sausages, grilling...whatever, although the Red Rangers seemed to take a week or more longer to reach the size the Freedom Rangers do so I was butchering at 11-13 weeks instead of 10 - 12. The DP Roosters took FOREVER to get big and even at 18 weeks were pretty scrawny and no more than 4 lb. Even the very low initial cost did not make up for all the food I had to put into them and ended up being the most expensive per pound of finished bird.

    I know that most folks swear by the CX broilers, and I"m not saying that they are wrong, only that they have been frustrating for me to raise. I hate walking out to feed them in the morning and finding dead birds lying around after everyone looking great the night before. I've never had that experience with any of the other meat birds I've raised (after the first 24 hours anyway) or with any of the heritage layers I've purchased for my egg coop.
     

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