New to the meat business

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by TherryChicken, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. TherryChicken

    TherryChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    No not business as selling lol..
    Anyway I've raised birds but never for meat. At this time we are thinking we might. We already bought 8 Cornish Rocks. Is there any tips yall could give me on how to raise and care for a bird for meat, not just the specific breed? I read that you have to feed a certain way for Cornish birds, but in general how can we care for them? Parasites, health, what can they have and can't they? Ect.. Thank you! !
     
  2. jaj121159

    jaj121159 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would suggest keeping your birds once over three or four weeks of age outdoors, or be prepared to change litter almost daily.

    As far as feeding them I would recommend feeding them a feed with between 18% to 24% protein, I feed mine 20% or 21% protein. Most people like to feed broilers (cornish X) 12 hours on, 12 hours off after the first or second week.The easiest way to do this is to feed them in the morning then remove the feeder at night. I have found that outside birds usually will not eat in the dark unless they are starved, so I don't remove the feed at night once my birds are outside on pasture. With 8 Cornish Xs, I would start them like you would any chicks. Then keep increasing the amount of feed given each day. by the eighth week you will be giving them about 4 to 5 lbs. per day. I do not give medicated feed to my broilers. They will be done and ready to process in six to eights weeks. Also don't be surprised if you lose one or two along the way. They may have leg problems or "flip" like a turtle and suffocate because they can't flip back on their feet.

    If you are feeding Rangers or dual purpose birds for meat, they won't eat as much as Cornish Xs and will be ready in 12 (rangers) to 16 weeks (dual purpose). I still feed them non-medicated 20 to 21% feed for their whole life.

    If you feed birds outside they will eat bugs, grass, worms, etc, in addition to their own food. You can supplement their diet with anything you would feed to layers, tomatoes, squash,greens, mealworms, etc. I have even fed my broilers duckweed from my pond.
     
  3. TherryChicken

    TherryChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Thank you! What if they were to get parasites, how can I safely treat them and us still beale to eat them? What if we butcher and find intestinal parasites, are they still safe to eat? How do we be sure we got all our including eggs? What if they get uri of some sort?
     
  4. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wouldn't restrict feed until around 3 weeks old. I wouldn't worry about parasites either. I won't treat meat birds with any drugs they aren't around long anyways and I don't want any crap in my meat. If you were really worried about worms you could feed them a bunch of pumpkin seeds or something like that but I'd probably grind them somehow. I've never heard of anyone treating a meat bird for parasites or anything else
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2016
  5. TherryChicken

    TherryChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Thank you!
     
  6. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't treat meat birds with anything ever. How you feed them depends on your goals... Do you want the healthiest meat, the fastest growing or most economical meat? Etcetc.

    I feed my meat birds wet feed (mash, fermented feed etc) and I free feed until 3 weeks. After that it's two meals a day. They get as much as they can eat in 20 minutes in the morning and then again at night. They free range or tractor the rest of the time. Never had a bird too big, never ha a leg problem, never had an unhealthy animal. In fact, they've always been some of the most robust birds, ever. I even have a cx hen I kept on for funsies that is turning 2 years old in a couple of months. This makes the chickens grow a bit "slower".... But by that, I mean when I processed the birds (boys at 10 weeks girls at 12) I didn't have a bird carcass that was under 5lbs. :p

    Most people feed 12 hours, then no feed 12 hours and process at 8-9 weeks with only slightly smaller birds (and nearly a month less time keeping the birds around).

    Some people free feed 24/7 and process at 6-8 weeks. This is pretty economical but has small birds and more health problems. They faster they eat and grow, the worse their health will be.

    It's really up to you.
     
  7. TherryChicken

    TherryChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    Healthy would be nice!
     
  8. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do you notice much more in the way of chewiness and flavor raising them 12 weeks as opposed to the flavor of regular store chicken or butchering at 8 weeks on straight feed? Or are they still quite tender and taste close to a younger bird
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2016
  9. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are still quite tender and I didn't have a problem... I suppose thinking back it was probably a little firmer texture but I didn't notice much and probably liked it more. Slightly stronger flavor, I would say. The rule is, the older the bird the more flavorful but also the tougher the bird and the slower the cooking... Especially for males past puberty (around 14 weeks). Cornish game hens are just CXs raised until they are 4-6 weeks old instead of fryers or roasters, and that's it. They're much more tender, milder flavor, gives you an idea on what a change in age does. The tastiest birds IMO have a strong flavor and are old hens and roosters cooked low and slow. But anything under 16 weeks is still going to be easy to eat and not rubbery, especially if you wanna roast or bake the bird rather than fry it.I don't do a lot of fried chicken so it was pretty much irrelevant to me.

    The healthiest meat bird is going to be one fed more sparingly (20 min 2xs a day from 3 weeks on), wet feed (especially fermented), and who is required or encouraged to walk a round a lot and then butchered a little later. Put the food and water on opposite sides of the pen, let them interact with your egg hens and learn to forage, give them grass and bugs, etc. I have always felt that a healthy bird means healthier meat and eggs. :)
     
  10. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ya I know how chicken meat matures I just never had a CX that was raised much longer than the normal 8 week time. I like to have chicken that's still able to be fried or grilled rather than slow cooked. My last batch of isa brown roosters were butchered between 14 and 16 weeks, it was still tender enough to fry and the dark meat especially had quite a bit stronger flavor, so did the breast but it wasn't as noticeable
     

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