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Newbie Questions About Meat Birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by new2chickens2011, Oct 4, 2011.

  1. new2chickens2011

    new2chickens2011 Songster

    Jun 11, 2011
    Hello all, I am relatively new to chickens and have a small flock of laying hens. However, I know absolutely NOTHING about meat birds, but would like to raise a few. If there is any patient person who would like to answer my dumb questions......

    1. What is your favorite place/hatchery to buy meat chickens?
    2. Which breeds are for what? ie, I know Cornish X are the big meat chickens, but what other kinds do you like? What are Cornish Game Hens like?
    3. What do you feed them?
    4. How do you house them?

    Thanks in advance!!! There will probably be more to come haha:D

  2. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    Lot's of good information in the "sticky" thread at the top of this forum [​IMG]

    1. What is your favorite place/hatchery to buy meat chickens? I like Schlecht Hatchery in Iowa, but they're also close enough to ship chicks to me overnight.

    2. Which breeds are for what? ie, I know Cornish X are the big meat chickens, but what other kinds do you like? What are Cornish Game Hens like? Cornish X are the main ones that are ready to process at 8 weeks or so. Cornish Game Hens are merely Cornish X that are about 4 weeks old or so. Other popular breeds are Freedom Rangers, which I believe get processed around 12-16 weeks or so, and other heavy breeds.

    3. What do you feed them? Folks feed how they wish, with what their favorite brand or type of feed is. Many withhold feed for 12 hours, so the birds have feed with them for 12 hours during the day, then no feed available for 12 hours at night. Some feed higher percentage protein feed, some lower percentage. Organic feed is another option. I personally feed my local mill's 21% nonmedicated chick grower, and do not withhold feed. Cornish X eat a lot - about 15lbs or so per bird from beginning to end, in just 7-8 weeks.

    4. How do you house them? They don't roost, so they don't need an elaborate coop with roost poles and nest boxes. They DO poop a lot, so good ventilation is needed. Many people put them in a "tractor" - a movable, covered run - that allows them to move the birds around the yard or field so they don't spend lots of time in their own poo. I just have a section of my shed fenced off with 3' fencing. I add some fresh shavings daily so they don't lay in poo. They don't require as much room as layers (the 4sqft per bird), as they don't really get around too much. About the most activity they get is to walk to the feeder and waterer, so it's good to space those apart so they at least HAVE to move.
  3. LilyD

    LilyD Songster

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    Quote:I like welp hatchery but now doing DP birds instead
    Cornish X are ready to process in 8 weeks freedom rangers about 12 weeks.
    For DP birds Delaware grow fast brahmas a bit more slowly but still decent size by 18 to 24 weeks. It depends on what you want.
    I feed them starter for the first week then switch to broiler crumbles after that and finisher for the last few weeks.
    I house them in a large coop with attached run.

    Hope this helps
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  4. SIMZ

    SIMZ Crowing

    Apr 29, 2011
    Northwest Indiana
    Great questions!

    We're currently raising our second batch of meat chicks. I started out with 8 that I bought from the feed store last spring. It worked great for us to start with a small amount of chicks and see how it went. This last batch we bought from Central Hatchery in Nebraska for $.75 each and they've been very healthy! They sell by 100, though, although you may be able to get less. We split the order with friends and are only raising 20 this time.

    We also butchered some Buff Orpington roosters at 16 weeks to try some dual-purpose meat chickens. They simply weren't the same at all. I really prefer the Cornish X because I'm used to the grocery store "look". That's just my very limited experience.

    We feed them 24% starter for the first few weeks. Then we switch to a grower feed (20%) and I start letting their feed run out at night. About that time they're not under the brooder light, so they won't really eat all night anyway. This time I'm trying something I read in Storey's about mixing scratch grains in their feed. Again, it's an experiment, so I'm not sure how it will work out.

    Housing: They do poop ALOT. I had my last 7 (one died as a chick) in the coop in a 8X3 enclosure. I opened up more coop as they got bigger, but they were IMPOSSIBLE to keep dry without constantly changing shavings. They basically refused to go out in the run unless carried. lol This time I simply feed them outside and it's no problem at all getting them out then! They're in the run all day and can go in the coop at night. Next time I will try the tractor and simply keep moving them to new ground. For me, it's mostly a matter of the cost of shavings. Otherwise it wouldn't be a problem to keep them in the coop.

    They're actually pretty simple (besides the mess) and it's great to have a freezer full of chicken after 7-8 weeks. They're very sweet and docile, too. For that reason it's a good thing to get enough that you can't get to know any of them since their entire purpose is dinner. LOL
  5. new2chickens2011

    new2chickens2011 Songster

    Jun 11, 2011
    Thank you all so much for your valuable advice!! [​IMG]
  6. I'm raising my second small batch of Cornish X right now, 3 weeks old, with a week old batch of 5 sent as replacements for some I lost shortly after shipping. I also have a bunch of red broilers and red " packing peanuts". I really like the looks of the red broilers. Some of them are nearly as big or as big as the Cornish X, although I have one monster Cornish X who just the last couple of days has really started to grow like crazy. I've been experimenting with mixing my own grains on the older batch, the younger is getting straight flock raiser so I can see the difference.
    Mine came from Ideal. My first came from Mcmurray's in May, a mistake shipment that was supposed to be a mixture of Mediterranean layers. That was fine, I was planning on starting to raise meaties, I was just planning on waiting until we moved next year to the country, this just moved the process ahead a little and I'm happy with that, although the poor Cornish X had a miserable summer being raised in record heat in AZ.
    I really like Ideal Hatchery. Nothing wrong with Mcmurray's and it could simply be the feed mixture I'm giving the 3 week olds this time that is making the difference. If the red broilers continue to do well, I may switch entirely to them as there are issues with Cornish X that I don't like, mainly the leg and hearts but also the the breast sores and laying in their poop, despite giving them lots of bedding and moving the tractor often.

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