Newbie Meat Bird Questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Hankdog1, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Hankdog1

    Hankdog1 New Egg

    Nov 27, 2009
    Cedar Bluff, VA
    I am new to the whole chicken idea but i've done other types of farming from managing cows to being a beekeeper. My want is to know where that chicken on my plate comes from. So the questions are as follows:

    1. Can you manage a flock that will produce year after year? Curious about this because i get the feeling most of you raise them up until time to for processing.

    2. What kind of housing do these birds need? I have seen everything from chicken coops to tractors whatever they are.

    3. Whatever else you might think of that is important. I'm kinda just stabbing in the dark here as i really have no practial knowledge of chickens.

    Thanks in advance for your input.

    EGGTASKTIC Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 16, 2009
    I will not speak for everyone but I raise mine from chicks I get from a hatchery. Cornish x are the breed I stick to most of the time.
    I do not have the time or resources to breed these myself. So my answer to the first part of you question is no and yes.
    If you want the nice big fast developing meat birds you will not be able to have a good breeding flock. If you want to go more of a traditional route you can raise a duel purpose bird and have some decent meat birds and a sustainable flock.

    As far as housing goes you can go different ways. I prefer a simple made tractor ( a light movable shelter). I use what ever wood and fencing I can find and make an a-frame. The key is to leave the bottom open and build it light so you can move the thing around. Most of mine are about 100 sq ft. pvc is a good way to go. The goal is to grow these guys up as fast as possible - in an economical way.

    pvc tractor link


    this is a deluxe one for laying hens

    You will want to test things a bit, start small and build your way up. These critters eat and drink a bunch. I am a bit of a cheap skate so I fabricate and recycle as much as I can for feeders and waterers and shelter.
    Also the Cornish x is not you typical barnyard chicken the do have their issues. But once you get a beautiful 8 -10 lb rooster on the table you will forget about all that. Of course fried is good or bbq and etc....

    good luck and give em a try
  3. the simple life

    the simple life Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hank, I know you from the beekeeping forum. Most of the people here (not all) but the majority raise the cornish x chickens that I told you about.

    If you do meatbirds then alot of people suggest putting them in those movable tractors, where you drag the tractor a few feet each day so they are on new ground.
    I keep mine in a large pen on shavings because its cool here this time of year and I don't have any problem with smell.
    As the previous poster said you cannot maintain a breeding flock with this type of breed, you purchase chicks from the hatchery for each batch you want to do.
    If you want a dual purpose breed then you can maintain a breeding flock but it may be more involved and I know that it will take longer to grow them out and you usually do not get the kind of meat that you do on the cornish, the breasts are huge on these.
    The dual purpose will forage more though, as will the rangers.
    Rangers need a longer time to finish but they will forage.
    If you don't mind a longer time frame to grow out the rangers or the duals then that is not a problem.
    I don't like to have our food hanging around the yard that long, I do not want the younger kids to get attached, the cornish x can be processed at 6 weeks.
    I also like the fact that I can raise a batch and get them in the freezer for my family in just a few weeks if I feel the need to stock up for lean times.

    I suggest you use the search feature in the meat bird section and just read all the past threads.
    I went through all the pages and just read and read and it answered alot of my questions and that is how I decided on doing the cornish x rather than any other type of bird.
    Everything from housing to feed questions are in there. There is also a good bit of info on processing and packaging the chickens after.
    Ask questions, someone will always answer.
  4. NotAFarm

    NotAFarm Embracing the New! Premium Member

    Nov 5, 2009
    Hank [​IMG]
    1. I think a year around flock isn't alot of people's first choice because it costs so much to feed them through winter and then alot to get the chicks to a good size for butchering. I second the recommendation to search for sustainable flock threads. There are alot of BYCers
    trying to find the best dual purpose breed or crossing breeds to create their own unique meat bird. The Cornish Xs are protected by the company that owns them. If you go with them, you will have to buy chicks from a hatchery that is contracted with them. They are a hybrid so will not breed true and they aren't bred for longevity although some people have managed to keep them alive a few years.

    2. Housing depends on where you live. I'm in Illinois so I have to plan for cold weather and not having a place for my flock to be outside much for four months or so. It also depends on which kind of meat birds you have. Cornish X feather out early and eat alot and poop alot. I think they are more easily handled by being put out in a tractor upon feathering and moved around to disperse the "fertilizer", but then I raised mine in late spring and early fall, others might have indoor facilities that can handle them inside at other times of the year. If you went with a "ranger" or dual purpose, they will be happier with more room and free range, but the time commitment is longer.

    3. Reading BYC will help you learn. I also found having a couple of books on hand that I could highlight/bookmark helped. Don't be afraid to ask questions!!!

    WARNING: Chickens and BYC are addictive-Mary
  5. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    You can't sustain a flock of meaties- they're hybrids and won't breed true. A tractor is the only way to go. It keeps your smell and cleanup at nearly zero. Fresh ground twice a day simply by moving a few feet beats cleaning out a coop that will fill with poo in a few hours! My tractors are sometimes quite close to my house, and I never smell them at all.

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