Planning for meaties is stressing my brain BIG TIME!!!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by ChickenSkool, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. ChickenSkool

    ChickenSkool Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 28, 2013
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    I'm just starting a new thread so really sorry if that isn't appropriate. I have read roughly 8 bazillion posts here, there, and everywhere and my head really hurts! [​IMG] There is SOOOO much info and GOOD info, but just so hard to get through all of it to find exactly what I want to learn about. I've got some basics figured out, but other things are freaking me out.

    I have 11 layers who are wonderful and have a nice big coop, converted from a shed. I got them at 9 weeks or more, adding them as I went along (original plan was to have 4 laying hens!) so I have not done chicks. I am going to get 22 Cornish Rock X (and 3 Columbian Wyandotte just because I want those! [​IMG]) chicks and am totally stressing out about where/how to house them. I have a 5' diameter circle for their "brooder" that I guess I will have to put in the garage although I have considered trying to put it in a blocked-off corner of the coop. Which would be best? How long will they last in there - a week? 2 weeks? Long enough to then go straight to a tractor? Or, if I happened to have a broody right when the chicks come, I would for sure at least give her the CW chicks - so they need a separate area, too, right? So that would mean the brooder for the meat chicks would have to be in the garage, because I can't fit 2 separate areas in the coop. If no broody, I will keep all the chicks together at least for awhile, I hope?

    Next part that is stressing me... The tractor/pastured/free-ranging situation. Soooo, I am not a builder. After my extensive (to put it mildly) reading, I am thinking of having an electric net fenced area (10x16 would be what the fence I am looking at will make) with a tractor inside. I could move the whole set-up every few days? (Sounds like a lot of trouble, though...) I could also let them truly "loose" for an hour or two before dark, once I see they'll go back. If they are "loose" from, say, the other side of my yard from my layers, do I need to worry about any conflict if they approach each other??? Or will they more likely just mind their own business & stick with their friends??

    My biggest concern is, do I still have to build a *secure* tractor/shelter? Or can it just be basic wind/weather shelter without secure door/sides/etc if the electric net is providing their security? And what about digging predators?? But if I put a floor on the tractor/coop thing, then what about the poop??? [​IMG] AND how big does the tractor have to be??? Is 4'x9' okay? Hoop? Solid? Tarp? Boxy? [​IMG]

    I'm just about going nuts trying to figure all this out in my head. Obsessed and stressed. Trying to do this right is going to do me in. [​IMG]
     
  2. SmokinChick

    SmokinChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My tractor is 7x14 and I can do 30 CX in, but usually only do 20. And they use all the space. A farm down the road uses electric fence and a small 3 sided lean to type shelter. They move it often. They raise for sale @ the farmer's market and it works great. Keep it simple and enjoy. I think a fence and tractor might be to much work.
     
  3. ChickenSkool

    ChickenSkool Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 28, 2013
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    Okay, thanks for that info! That tractor sounds nice and spacious. I am so torn between the "sturdy shelter" and the fresh pasture angles. Your tractor is pretty big - I think I would have trouble building and moving one that big, if it is secure enough to be the only predator-barrier. I like the electric fence, but worry that a simple lean-to thing isn't really enough shelter for the birds, but maybe it is. I know they aren't really in there that long. But, we can get some pretty high winds, so I wonder how much trouble I'll have keeping something light held down!!! Ugh, I'm really making myself crazy with all this, but I want that chicken-in-the-pot so much! :p
     
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Quote: You won't need the electric poultry netting AND a tractor situation, merely the fencing and range shelter for a meat flock. Moving the fence is as easy as leaving one side in place and swinging the sides around to a new square. The fencing has built in stakes that push in to the ground and a single person can do it by themselves, though it's much easier if two people do the job, but it's a matter of minutes to get it done.

    Inside that fence you can let them loose at all times...that electric isn't letting anything in to eat them and they cannot get out. The only problem is aerial attack and the range shelter is the cure for that. They will return to the range shelter each night to sleep. You won't get the benefit of raising them on pasture if you confine them to a tractor all the while you have range fencing to protect them while they range.

    There won't be any conflict between layer flocks and meaty flocks unless it's at feeding time and the layer birds will stand back and stare as the meaties swarm the feeders like piranha.....so it's best to feed the meaties separately and feed them first, so your layer flock will have any chance at eating. [​IMG]

    See pic.....

    [​IMG]


    Here's a setup that may give you some ideas on your range shelters....

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2013
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  5. ChickenSkool

    ChickenSkool Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 28, 2013
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    Okay, that video was SUPER helpful. I guess in my head I just feel sorry for the chickens if they have no real study "house" to get into in case of weather or whatnot. Like really enclosed and weather-proof. But I guess they don't in fact need that much protection from the elements. I'll still feel sorry for them if we have a rainy cold wind storm, though. [​IMG] But, in practice, if they will be okay, then I think my best course will be to do an electric fence enclosure with just a simple shelter and then move them as often as needed.

    I don't forsee (doesn't mean it couldn't happen of course - the story of my chicken-raising) any food conflicts with the meat and layer flocks if they are both out free-ranging, because their feeders won't really be part of the free-range area in that case. Unless they go that far into the other flock's actual living area. But it wouldn't happen more than once, cause if it did, I just wouldn't let them totally loose at the same time again!

    Sooo, I just still have to figure out what max size of spot I need for them before they are able to move outside, and exactly where to put that.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Meaties are a bit hot blooded, so rainy and cold doesn't phase them one bit. As long as they have a place to get out of the wet and the hot sun, they are golden. You'll learn real quick to not feel sorry for meaties...they are a self sufficient lot and very tough. You'll not be raising them in seasons of extreme temps and they are more susceptible to heat than they are to cold, so a lot of folks start them in the early spring when it's still pretty cold so they won't be finishing up when it's too hot, or they start them in the last part of August and finish up in the cooler parts of the fall. Not often folks are doing them in all rainy, cold temps all the way through in range shelters.

    Here's a brooder idea I've used for the last two sets of chicks, the first set was 54 meaties...easy, cheap and effective. It was topped out with a couple of pieces of plywood. This was used when the temps were still in the 30s at night and 40-50s in the day.

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    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
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  7. ChickenSkool

    ChickenSkool Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Dec 28, 2013
    Central Ohio
    This is SO helpful, thanks! Yes, I am starting my first batch in early March, to be done before any serious heat hits, then if all goes well I'll do a end-of-summer/fall batch as well.
    That brooder is fantastic, easy and cheap as you say! How long did they stay in that? Wait, that is in your shelter? So you just took the bales away as they got bigger? And one heat lamp kept that many warm enough from day one? Also, is that shelter inside an electric fence area?
     
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Yep, they were in the hoop coop and they stayed in the actual enclosed brooder for 2 wks and then I took down the sides and placed them around the perimeter to keep them from getting out of my plastic mesh on the coop. They were free ranging by 2.5 wks and only using a heat lamp in one corner of the brooder~just at night~ for a week after breaking down the brooder and then no more heat by 3 wks or so....these meaties are not as needy for that as a dual purpose or layer breed. Here's a pic of when the brooder was open and they had a Mr. Mom trying to brood them....

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    This is shade, water and shelter in the middle of the fenced area...with a dog for helping. That didn't last very long and neither did the fence..... I had gotten sheep fencing with a ground wire in the bottom strand so I wouldn't have to move a grounding rod, thinking it would still keep in the chooks...it didn't. They soon melted through that large mesh fencing like water and I just let them free range all over the 3 acre meadow at will after that. Jake was glad to be out in the open as well. Didn't lose a one to preds, though we are surrounded by thousands of acres of forest and preds of all kinds.

    [​IMG]

    Three weeks and no heat lamp...just a lonely rooster that thought he was their mama.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
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  9. crazyaboutchickens

    crazyaboutchickens Live Long And Prosper

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    You'd probably win if you entered that last pic in a caption contest. :lol:
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    [​IMG] I used it in the Dave Leghorn murder thread....Rudy was the director of the orphanage.
     

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