Oh, the shame of it all . . . my meaties were so small

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by chicknjane, Oct 27, 2009.

  1. chicknjane

    chicknjane Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm am such a novice.

    I really thought it would be a great idea to get a bunch of meat birds, raise them up and have them processed for the freezer. I ordered some black broilers that were supposed to reach 6 lbs in 7 weeks or less. I fed them grower rations for the first 6 weeks then a finisher to fatten them up. At 12 weeks old, I estimate the biggest never got to be more than 5 lbs. [​IMG]

    When I took them to the processor tonight I hung my head in shame when I saw all the big beautiful birds all lined up to be processed. [​IMG]

    They had all the food they could eat, plus they got to roam around in a hugh 2000' enclosure. Where did I go wrong? [​IMG]

    I want to do this again, but I want to get it right. So here are my questions.

    Should I let them have all the exercise and running room they want or should I limit their exercise?

    Should I have feed them something other than the standard grower crumbles for the first six weeks? The ag center said grower first 6 weeiks then a finisher for last 2 - 6 weeks until slaughter.

    What is the best bird for meat? Should I try another cross/broiler or should I go with a large breed like leghorns.

    When I dropped off my birds I saw these beautiful birds that looked like Barred Rocks, but only bigger, any quess what they could have been?

    Finally, please tell me I'm not the only one to have gone through the embarassment of dropping of puny little birds for processing.
     
  2. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What breed?
     
  3. chicknjane

    chicknjane Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They were Black Broilers from Ideal Poultry
     
  4. BirdBrain

    BirdBrain Prefers Frozen Tail Feathers

    May 7, 2007
    Alaska
    Next time get game bird feed. It is 30% protein and unmedicated. I think you just had too low a protein level. I always keep their feed bins full and give them light all night. It helps them pack it on sooner--if they can't see they can't eat.

    I have always ordered the white Cornish crosses from Ideal but if you increase their protein and over all intake it shouldn't matter which of their broilers you grow out.
     
  5. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Did the processors have any comment? Did they think your birds were on the small side for their age? Have you contacted the hatchery to discuss your results?
     
  6. goosemama

    goosemama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was just reading the other day in one of my books that the Black Broilers take longer to reach weight than the Cornish Crosses do - so that could be one factor. I had never heard of black broilers until reading this.

    The second question I would have is why the Ag center would tell you to start them on "grower" instead of "chick starter" which is usually higher protein & fed to day old chicks until they are established for a few weeks when they are switched to grower. I've also read that because of the stress put on their skeletal structure, the protein level should be kept in the 20-22% level when layer chicks would normally be reduced to l6% etc. to finish.

    I have 24 two week old Cornish Crosses I'm brooding right now and I always start them on medicated feed because they have a tendency as chicks to just lay down and die! I will switch them to an unmedicated feed after another 2 weeks when this current bag of medicated starter feed is gone. I really wish I'd gotten them earlier in the summer so I could have pastured them as well. I think the extra room and range system along with high protein feed is healthier for them, but maybe all that extra exercise works against them? I really don't know about this aspect? Will keep you posted to let you know how mine weigh out - they are supposed to be 4 to 5lbs in 8 weeks - we'll see!
     
  7. chicknjane

    chicknjane Chillin' With My Peeps

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    30% protein, WOW. I think the finisher mash I got from the ag center was only 19% protein. Also, I figured, since they weren't laying, they didn't need the extra daylight hours, so I didn't give them any artificial lighting. They always had food. I kept their food troughs filled, plus they got tons of scraps -n- scratch.

    Thanks BirdBrain, I'll definitely up the protein and give more lighting for longer feeding time.

    Sunny_side, I wouldn't bother the hatchery with this for the sole fact that I know this was "operator error." This being my first attempt and all, I figured it wouldn't be perfect, I just didn't expect it to be pathetic. LOL I do think the sweet dear who took the birds for processing took pity on me as she merely suggested the other (bigger, meatier, more succulent) birds were probably a bit older. When I told her they were 12 weeks she indicated they were a different breed than the others.
     
  8. goosemama

    goosemama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just read your follow up post where you mentioned you also fed scraps and scratch to your broilers along with the l9% protein feed. This is great for laying hens as they like the variety to their diet, especially if they can't free range, but the scratch and scraps as fed to growing meat birds would not even in combination add up to l9% so their protein level was actually being reduced by adding the scratch and scraps to their grain diet. You could add these as variety and greens etc. as long as your basic commercial feed was in the mid twenties (or higher) protein-wise.
     
  9. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    Just a couple of things- if you want birds like you get from the supermarket, you need to get Cornish X's. Period. There are plenty of reasons that many people go with other breeds, but for big meaty birds in 8 weeks, you need Cornish X's. Whatever you do, don't buy a breed just because it is large. Many of the larger, nonbroiler breeds get big, but take awhile to do so, and still have disappointing meat yields. Leghorns will give you the boniest chicken you ever ate, and will take about 20 weeks to do so! Also, I'm not sure if it would contribute much to smaller birds, but you do NOT need 2000 sq. ft of enclosure. You can't think of broilers like layers. Right now, I have 75 Cornish X's in a 100 sq. ft. movable tractor. That being said, while they don't need much space, they need fresh ground. So, I move the tractor as much as practical. Every day MINIMUM, usually 2-3 times/day. Next, grower/crumble is a poor choice- again, they aren't layers. They NEED to be on broiler feed of at least 20% protein. I respectfully disagree with birdbrain in a couple of areas. I don't think they need 30% protein- I don't think it will hurt them, but it's a waste of money. Don't worry about changing feeds from a grower to a finisher, etc. With only an 8 week life span, simple nonmedicated broiler feed will do them fine from day one til butchering. I feed 20-22% and I get some 10 pounders (live) in 8 weeks. Also, they need to be restricted in their feed. Most people raising broilers keep either dark at night, or red lights (to supplement heat, but not give much light,) and take away food for 12 nighttime hours.
     
  10. PurpleChicken

    PurpleChicken Tolerated.....Mostly

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    Quote:I second everything that Jaku said here, especially about the breed and feed.

    I've raised both Cornish and Freedom Rangers on 26% protein feed I buy at our local mill. The smallest Cornish after 8 weeks were 5 pounds. The Rangers take 2 to 3 more weeks than that.

    Next time I raise meat birds I'm gonna feed them a ton of scratch for the last week or two. One of my friends(my boss actually) has great luck with scratch putting on that layer of fat. Scratch is half the price of finisher.
     

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