New to meat chicks. I have questions!!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by ssledoux, Feb 25, 2009.

  1. ssledoux

    ssledoux Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 14, 2007
    I've raised chickens (layers) for the last 10 years. We have never done meat birds. We purchase free-range meat from a large co-op. I am, however, interested in doing my own this year. Few questions:

    1 - Will they free-range at all, or eat only feed? We have pasture and would love to free-range them if they will.

    2 - Any particular time of year better to raise them? I'm in Louisiana. I'm assuming I don't want to do this in mid-summer.

    3 - What age do you butcher them?

    4 - Can you just skin them out, and, if so, is it practical, easier, etc?

    5 - What type of grain do you have to feed? And how costly is it to go organic?
     
  2. miss_thenorth

    miss_thenorth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 28, 2007
    SW Ont, Canada
    1 - Will they free-range at all, or eat only feed? We have pasture and would love to free-range them if they will.

    yes, and no. They will free range, as in peck at grass and bugs, but they are not active, and tend to stay in the same general ares--clost to the feeder. Also, it is probably best to have them enclosed somewhat--to protect from predators, as they are easy targets b.c the are big and slow, and couldn't possibly fly

    2 - Any particular time of year better to raise them? I'm in Louisiana. I'm assuming I don't want to do this in mid-summer.

    .

    In the summer, where temps get to about 90F, and winters are snowy and cold., I raise from april to october. If it is too cold, you will need to provide heat. In the hot summer months, I just provide shade, sometimes a fan, and misting with water. Frozen pop bottles filled with water can be placed around for them to sit next to-to cool down.

    3 - What age do you butcher them?

    8-10 weeks, depending on how big of a bird you want for dinner. Watch out for the size though--the bigger they are, the more prone to heart attacks etc.

    4 - Can you just skin them out, and, if so, is it practical, easier, etc?

    skinning iis easier, but then you would have to part up your chicken which is not easier. Plucking them gives you a nice roaster.

    5 - What type of grain do you have to feed? And how costly is it to go organic?

    I start them out on medicated chick starter, then switch to meat builder. I feed purina. Never looked into organic.​
     
  3. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    1) They'll peck at the ground, but even when I withhold food before processing day, I never find that they've eaten much, if any grass, so plan on feeding them a lot still. With Cornish X, I don't think you gain anything by free ranging them- they don't need much space to move anyway, and they're sitting "ducks" for predators. They do great in an open bottom tractor.

    2) I'm not sure about your weather, but I live in Michigan, and I won't do any in the summer anymore. They don't do well in the heat. They can handle cold pretty well, so I'd say for your area, the colder the better.

    3) I do mine at 8 weeks.

    4) I skin some of mine- it goes pretty quick if you don't mind losing a bit of meat. It takes longer if you want to end up with a whole carcass. (When I do it, I just tear the skin away and cut off the breasts and legs, leaving the wings and some of the less meaty areas.)

    5) I feed broiler mix, 20% protein. Organic feed is going to be more expensive. Unless you're looking to sell "certified organic" birds, I wouldn't bother with the expense. Just get non-medicated feed and raise them in tractors, and you'll be worlds ahead of the commercial birds in terms of healthy eating, if that's your goal.
     

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