New to meat, What think you of this idea?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by sodamancer, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. sodamancer

    sodamancer Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 2, 2012
    I have a very small 1/3 acre lot and currently home to 12 layer chickens. I really want to eat chicken again and am tired of waiting until pheasant season for more bird. I thought i might try my hand at some cornish x. Because i am limited on space and time with which to slaughter birds i am thinking a five in five out method may work. 6 in the brooder, then 4 weeks later 6 in the tractor. When the brooder lot moves to the tractor i could put 6 more in the brooder. We very little meat and one 4lb pheasant is roughly 3 meals (pot pie, soup, fried rice) for my family of 5. So I am thinking a total of 30 chickens for a year. I was thinking i would do a cycle in spring and if it went well a cycle in the fall.

    Now my questions are......

    My brooder is a large rubbermaid........will 6 meat chickens at 4 weeks still fit in this or shall i need to aquire something larger?

    Do they need a heat lamp at night after being moved outside?

    How much space should i allow in my PVC tractor. Predators are not a problem as i have a large dog and have yet to see a coon, opossum, or anything.

    Will only doing 5-6 birds at a time be worth the upkeep?
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Good questions and sounds like a reasonable plan to me. I'll give your questions a shot.

    I use rubber maid 100 gallon tanks as brooders as well. With that size I think 6 birds is just fine - even at 4 weeks.

    Will their tractor also be their coop? I think most chickens are fully feathered by 6-8 weeks but it seems like everything is faster with Cornish X. That being said, while their bodies grow quickly, sometimes their feathers are more sparse - from having to cover that huge frame. So, I think being moved to the tractor at 4 weeks (if I read that right) may depend quite a bit on the time of year you put them out there, as to whether they need heat. The deeper we get into the year and it warms up, the less need for heat. Plus, is the tractor covered? Do you have the ability to keep it out of the wind? It would be a shame to raise them in the brooder for a month, only to lose them to the cold. Can part of the tractor become an enclosed coop?

    As for room in the tractor...Cornish, while getting larger faster than other breeds, don't move around as much. But it seems that 10 sq ft. per bird is recommended in the tractor.

    The last question is the tough one and totally up to you. I love the taste of Cornish X but to me they are not a very pleasant bird. I process about 25 a year - all as roasters so I let them grow a little more. I usually butcher twice. I personally wouldn't want to raise them as chicks in the brooder to the tractor to slaughter repeatedly throughout the year. I butcher in two batches only because 25 would be too much to do in a day - doing half that is tough enough! But the seemingly constant cleaning of the brooder isn't something I want to do with subsequent batches.

    Good luck to you and your plans - sounds like you have put a lot of thought into it. Hope it all turns out well.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2013
    2 people like this.
  3. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    The message above seems full of very good advice. As for the "is it worth it" question. When I slaughtered my first meet birds (30 Freedom Rangers) I started in batches of 6. I was hand plucking them, having no commercial style plucker, so with the help of my mom, who lives next door we got a system going where I would kill the first bird, and after it had bled out, I'd hand it to my mom, who would scald it and begin the plucking. I'd kill the second bird and then do the third. By the time I had done the third, the first would be plucked and ready to butcher. I'd take bird one to the kitchen to do the butchering, and by the time I was done, Mom had bird 2 ready to go, and by the time I was done with #2, #3 was ready to butcher.

    While I was butchering #3, Mom would take a rest and then we'd start on the next three. While I did get quicker with time, we were generally ready to be done after 6. While I was butchering #6, Mom would start the clean up. Frankly, 6 good sized roasters pretty well fill a standard cooler, and when are a pretty snug fit in the sink to drain and then take up a good amount of the refridgerator to "rest" for a few days before I bagged them and stuck them in the freezer.

    So, sure, I'd say that 5 or 6 chickens would be worth it. We eat probably 2 chickens every 3 weeks, so you'd have to be raising and processing them year round, which would be a problem where I live due to the harsh winters, but you might be able to raise enough to last you to phesant season.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    I have raised both FR and CX. They are equally as messy, overall. Using fermented feed helped minimize the 'ick' factor quite a bit. However, that smell isn't something I'd like in my lot year-round (nor my neighbors, we all have 2 acres or more, so we're not on top of each other - but mercy, that smell travels!).

    I have a 4'x4' square brooder box that's 2' high covered with a large piece of left-over 1/2" mesh fencing. With just 6 birds, that size space should be fine. I had 25 in there, and it was tight after just 2 weeks. These birds GROW, and fast! Literally overnight!

    The FR's didn't need supplemental heat, they were well feathered by 4wks. The CX would likely have benefitted from a heat lamp even near butchering, as the weather turned to a wet, cold fall. They weren't chilled or cold, as we know it. Their metabolism is phenomenal - they put out a lot of body-heat! However, they definately enjoyed having an enclosed space to sleep in. They did sleep on the ground, where the FR used the roost bars.

    I have a 8'x8' PVC tractor with a re-purposed rubbermaid type storage shed (it's 4'longx2'widex3'high) as their 'coop-ette'. I put a roost bar in where the shelf should be. Then added some 1/4" mesh panel sections for ventilation when the doors are closed. Put wood shavings in the bottom to help minimize the ick - needed to be changed at least every 4 days towards the end of their lives. But again, I had 25 birds in a small space. With 6, you'd likely need to count on changing bedding every week.

    The coop-ette is in the background behind this FR cockeral. That's my PVC tractor too. Added the plastic gutter feeder for 25 birds - but for 6 birds, it wouldn't have to be that big. For just 6 birds, this would be plenty big. However, you'll need a good shovel and wheelbarrow (and compost heap) to clean it out at the end! The grass in this photo was burned by all the poo and died shortly afterwards.

    The bigger question would be where do you order just a few CX birds at a time? I'm not having much luck finding anything less than 25. I'm hoping to find a source for just 12 birds at a time. Am planning on doing 3 sets throughout the nice weather. But first, got to find the birds!

    Hope this helps you.
  5. sodamancer

    sodamancer Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 2, 2012
    I can get small lots of meat chicks from a local feed store. The owner orders LOTS and then sells them at a 2.99 ea. This allows the backyard farmer (like me) to give it okay. Honestly we would likely eat 2 birds a month at most. maybe a bit less. The farm store actually keeps pullets in stock year round and will have meaties for about 4 months starting march first and then again in fall around mid august till october.

    we visited a local pig farm today and they had 25 meaties per tractor and moved them daily for by a tractor length. no smell at all.
  6. sodamancer

    sodamancer Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 2, 2012
    the tractor would be 4x8 and moved daily about my front yard. Enclosed.....well it would have a tarp over 1/2 of it completely wrapped around the frame....then a low roost maybe 6in off the ground.
  7. sodamancer

    sodamancer Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 2, 2012
    my layers only have a 4x8 coop and there is 8 ladies in there plus a 10x10 run
  8. jdywntr

    jdywntr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2009
    Somerville, AL
    I raised 17 cornish in about a 10X10' pen. I only kept them inside for a few days but I was in FL at the time. I started processing them at 4 weeks. So depending on the size of your container, picture 6 cornish rock hens lumbering around. ;)

    They get big fast. If you really only think you'll eat 2 a month then your plan will work. I let mine go to 10 weeks, processed most at 8 weeks though. It is just my husband and I and of the larger birds, we could get 4 meals out of 1 bird.

    I used pine shavings and pine pellets (for horse stalls) in my pen. Mine were close to fully feathered at 10 weeks but still had bare patches. Depending on your temps, you may need a heat source. I did a makeshift hover brooder for mine and as soon as they weren't sleeping under it, I removed it.

    Mine wanted NOTHING to do with anything green or any other type of vegetable.
  9. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 12, 2009
    Your front yard is going to look horrible, even with 6. I do 11 at a time, live down the road from Meyer hatchery, 11 is another price break at 1.67 a bird. I don't think I would pay 2.99 a bird that is a lot of money and with the feed you will have an expensive dinner. The most I've paid is 2$ for freedom rangers
  10. erinchelsea

    erinchelsea Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2010
    Webster City, IA
    I think it would be worth a try. If it's too much work/stink, etc. you can always stop! 6 is a very manageble number. CX are super stinky but with that few you can keep up with it. The taste is so much better than store bought chicken. [​IMG]

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