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Plan ahead

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Jesusfreak101, Dec 2, 2015.

  1. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    There a feed store near me who said they could get what ever breed i wanted for meat birds. They get theirs from ideal poultry. And well i want to know what breed to get. They be going with our curtian flock of 21 hens so they need to be able to be identified easly which i think leg bands would help there. But what going to be the healthiest breed to raise. I dont want corish as i keep reading they have all sorelts of health issues so what do yall think.
     
  2. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop

    Typically I would recommend "Freedom Rangers/Red Rangers/Red Broilers", but the strains of colored broilers Ideal seems to market are described as having a growth rate similar to Cornish Cross. Which makes me think they are basically just a colored Cornish Cross.

    I would suggest purchasing Standard Cornish. They are the (long ago) progenitors of the Cornish Cross. Hatchery birds do not have the meatiest bodies but they will much better than most other hatchery breeds, e.g. Rocks or Orpingtons. They take about 6-8 months to reach butchering weight. They do not experience any of the health problems one might expect from Cornish Cross. Choose Buff or White Laced Red varieties for the cleanest looking carcass. Since they are going to be kept with backyard hens, I would avoid ordering too many roosters. They attain a larger weight but because they take 6 months to grow out, they will be displaying mating behavior by the time they are ready to butcher, and Cornish roosters tend to be rough on hens.

    You will not have a problem identifying them. You can pick one up and easily feel the difference in body weight.
     
  3. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have two buff hens for eggs. I didnt think about cooking those. So pretty much their boilers are cornish just colored well dang. If they free range with our hens would they grow slower and be healthy still? I give ours a scoop of feed mixed with scratch(its a large scoop used for horse), scraps, the rest they find their own food they barely finish what i give them between 21 hens by the end of the day.
     
  4. Loc20chick

    Loc20chick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you free range them with your hens they will grow slower and not have the health problems. Their meat will also be more tastier than if they lived infront of food 24/7, I raised a few last year together with my sex links, their meat was more flavorful but they still gained their weight much quicker than the sex links. I also fed them fermented feed.

    I would get them again but I'm now hatching and butchering my roosters so no need to purchase meaties for the time being.
     
  5. Jesusfreak101

    Jesusfreak101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mmm ok thanks alot, i probably end up just raising them with our hens then.
     
  6. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    The Buffs you have are likely Buff Orpingtons. True Orpingtons make great meat birds, but hatchery Orpingtons are very watered down and much smaller and skinnier than their SOP counterparts. I have eaten hatchery stock Buff Orps in the past, and was not impressed.

    Free ranging Cornish Cross is not generally the best idea. They cannot even run, and will be easily taken by predators. They may grow slightly slower but it's not likely to be a noticeable difference. They may or may not still experience health issues. Personally I believe the health issues experienced with Cornish Cross are often the fault of the keeper, not the birds. I've been raising them for several years and have yet to have one die for any reason besides butchering or predator attacks. Not one heart attack, keep over, or mysterious deaths. My CX have access to 4,000 square feet of run, 256 square feet of coop, and broiler-diet available to them for around 8-10 hours a day. I've had batches survive 90F. heat waves without breaking a sweat.

    Remember that you will want to switch the flock to a broiler diet when you are raising the meat birds. And you will probably want to set ip a second feeder so the broilers/meat birds don't jostle the hens or vice versa. If you choose broilers, you will want to use a feed around 20% protein. If you can find a non-medicated starter feed or a grower or broiler feed with similar protein content, that will be perfect. If you choose heritage meat birds, e.g. Standard Cornish, you will want to feed something with around 18% protein. Either way you will probably be feeding a starter, grower, or broiler feed, which will lack the calcium required by laying hens; this need is easily supplemented by throwing out a handful of oyster shell every few days. Alternately you can purchase a sma (1-3 pound) feeder and allow them free choice oyster shell from it; or, you can simply mix it into the feed if you wish.

    Also just to be sure you are not misunderstanding anything I am saying. The diffeence between Cornish Cross and Standard Cornish can sometimes be difficult to grasp for those new to meat birds. A Cornish Cross (aka Cornish Rock, aka CX, aka Broiler) is the industry-standard fast-growing broiler, the product of 60 years of innovation. They grow to butcher weight in 6-8 weeks and have the potential for many health issues. The Standard Cornish (also simply known as the Cornish) is the bird used to create the Cornish Cross all those decades ago; it has a similar body type but grows much slower, taking 20-24 weeks to reach market size, and does not have near so much potential for health issues as Cornish Cross do.
     
  7. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also not all standard Cornish is the same, as with all the heritage breeds produced at hatcheries they aren't the same as they once were due to indiscriminate breeding, hatcheries simply don't deal with breeding for best form and utility, they mass produce. You may end up with a bunch of skinny chickens that look like any other chicken rather than a heavy boned broad breasted bird like they are supposed to be. Again ice never dealt with ideal and every hatchery is different, just be aware you may be disappointed
     
  8. QueenMisha

    QueenMisha Queen of the Coop


    This is definitely true to an extent. No hatchery Cornish will ever be as large as a breeder Cornish (think "hefty body" versus "bowling ball with legs"), but more often than not, hatchery's poor breeding practices usually result in a longer bird rather than a smaller one. MMH Dark Cornish for example resemble closely the old "Indian Game" type Cornish one might have seen running around a century ago. They are very long in the leg but both males and females are significantly heavier than the average hatchery bird.
     
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted

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    I'd say look at the Dixie Rainbows or Pioneers. folks on the meat bird thread seem to have had good luck with them.

    I've not butchered any hatchery Dark Cornish, but I've done two DC x Ameraucana cockerels and was pretty disappointed in the carcass size. They were 5ish months, the usual age I butcher, and very skinny. I'd thought I'd get some breast meat from the Cornish parent, but no. I realize an Ameraucana isn't the ideal bird to cross to for meat, this was an unplanned hatch. Maybe if you crossed them with a Wyandotte or something meatier you'd get a decent carcass. Or, let the hatcheries do the work for you. Several are offering slow broilers that butcher out around 12-14 weeks, instead of 8 for the CX.

    Or, you might try a few CX and see how they do for you. I love them for meat birds. Nothing else packs on the meat like those little piggies. I've not had much in the way of leg or cardiac issues, but I do make them move around and forage.
     
  10. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Ideal's red or black broilers are not colored CX, they take longer to grow and are more active as per their advertisment of them. They say 6 weeks for CX and 7 weeks for red or black broilers, that's certainly hopeful thinking. Not many folks butcher as young as 6 weeks on the CX. The 6 lbs must be live weight.

    Red Broilers are efficient producers of broiler meat for those who do not wish to have white plumage broilers. When broiler rations are fed, producers can expect to have six pound broilers in seven weeks or less. Since Red Broilers are more active than Cornish Rocks and grow slightly slower, they rarely experience leg weakness or Ascite, which is fluid in the body cavity. Red Broiler hens are not a good choice for efficient production of brown eggs.
     

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