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Questions on Getting Started with Meat Birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by NeilV, Feb 9, 2013.

  1. NeilV

    NeilV Out Of The Brooder

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    I live in a city, but I have about 3 acres to work with. We've been keeping chickens for eggs for three years now. We would like to begin raising meat birds too, using a pastured poultry/chicken tractor method. I think I would like to do batches of 25, one in spring, one in fall, for 50 each year. I'll use either Cornish-X or a Freedom Ranger type bird. I have rasied several batches of chicks and understand the process, but I want to make sure I have enough room and am a little unsure how to set up a brooder for this many chicks. Here are my basic questions:

    1. How many square feet of brooder space do I need for 25 chicks?

    2. Does anybody know where there are plans/design suggestions for such a brooder or a good product to buy?

    3. Will a 8' x 8' tractor, moved at least daily (usually both morning and evening) provide enough room for up to 25 chicks?

    4. As I understand it, either the Cornish-X or Freedom Ranger cockerels will be big enough to slaughter before they start crowing. Is that right? (My neighbors won't care that I'm raising meat chickens, unless they start making a bunch of noise.)

    5. I may have some friends who will want to buy a few chickens (some already buy eggs). Ignoring the cost of chicks that die before harvest, approximately what would to know what I would probably need to charge per cleaned bird to recover just the costs?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    For brooding, I built 2 of these
    http://www.plamondon.com/brooder.shtml
    Mine are 2X4' and 2.5X4' and each will brood over 50 chicks till they go outside. I have them in an unheated building at all times of the year and never lose any. '
    The only drawback is it is difficult to check for pasty butt.
     
  3. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I raised 35 Freedom Rangers last summer. I started with a 2.5'X5' plastic puppy play-pen that I put on top of a sheet of vinyl flooring in the garage. I had lined the inside walls of the play pen to reduce drafts and had a single heat lamp suspended above one end. I have a dimmer-switch or rheostat that plugs in between the extention cord and lamp so that I can adjust the heat easily and accuratly. Before I was ready to move them outside, I had to move 20 of the 35 into a larger pen, a 3'X7' PVC pipe and plastic poultry netting pen that also sat in the garage, but by this time the chicks didn't need heat lamps.

    I moved them outside to my mini-van mobile coup which pulled a 6'X12' tractor type arrangement that I moved every day or two. Before the 35 were old enough to process, I had to create an additional temporary run for 15 of them because they seemed too crowded.

    The roosters started trying to crow around 7 weeks of age, but it wasn't very loud or very impressive...sort of like a kid trying to play a note on a trumpet with a mute. I started processing them at aroun 10 weeks of age, doing them about a quarter at a time, doing the largest ones first. By the 12th week, the crowing was pretty loud, but then again, since the roosters tended to be larger than the pullets, they were all gone by then except for the two I was considering keeping.

    I know Cornish X reach processing weight a week or two earlier than the Freedom Rangers, so if you do what I did, and take the roosters first, you probably won't have a problem...or much of one.
     
  4. hydroswiftrob

    hydroswiftrob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Here is a little thread I kept a year ago. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/635131/got-my-first-meat-birds-pic-heavy


    I lived in the city and had no problems. You could easily raise 100 birds. 25 in the brooder, when those 25 go to pasture, order 25 more. When the 25 in the brooder of the second batch are ready to go to tractor, the 25 in the tractor will be ready for the fridge. Do that once in the spring, one in the fall and you have raised 100 birds.

    I used a cheap walmart plastic swimming pool as a brooder in my garage. I used 3ft tall 2x4 fencing around it and cut out a little door. I put a broom stick through the fencing to hang the waterer and feeder off of. That is the only thing I don't have a picture of.

    I raised a total of 50 cornish with an average dressed weight of 5.5 lbs. I gave a few away to the person who helped me butcher, had a few people buy some, and I was left with the equivalent of 40ish birds. We ran out of chicken one month ago. It is my wife and I and three kids. My wife is chomping at the bit for me to do this years order already, because she had to buy fake (what my children call grocery store eggs and meat) chicken. I forgot what fake chicken tasted like, but I can tell you it ain't as good as home grown! This year we are raising 80 for us.

    To figure cost, estimate 15 lbs of feed (I did 20), cost of bird, pine shavings, and ACV (<--- Strongly recommend that stuff!) and add a few cents for your time. I averaged about $2.00 a pound processed whole bird. You can see pics of my processing station and the way I bagged it on my thread.

    Hope this helps!
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. NeilV

    NeilV Out Of The Brooder

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    Tulsa, OK
    Thanks for that feedback.

    I have another, specific question. There is a person selling two homemade brooders on craigslist where I live at a reasonable price. The total square footage (counting both) is just shy of 15 square feet. Would that be sufficient room to keep 25 Cornish-X chicks until they get feathered out and moved to tractors?

    Also, these brooders have wire floors. Anybody else use brooders with wire floors. I've never done that myself. The brooder I've used for laying breeds has a plywood floor. I suppose I could put a sheet of plastic in there, assuming they're big enough.

    Again, I really appreciate the help provided above.
     
  6. NeilV

    NeilV Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 15, 2010
    Tulsa, OK
    Also, what is ACV?
     
  7. bilder

    bilder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That would be Apple Cider Vinegar. Lots of folks use it to ferment the feed.

    There is a very long, yet highly informative thread on the subject here. Look for the thread about feeding fermented food to chickens.

    I have never tried it, but am going to do so when my new chicks arrive in March.
     
  8. hydroswiftrob

    hydroswiftrob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    15 sq ft is enough. I am not sure I would do the wire floor brooder, and I definitely wouldn't use plastic (just my opinion).

    I don't ferment the feed, I use ACV in the water. About a tablespoon per 2.5 gallons.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    St. Louis, MO
    ACV needs to be organic with the mother in the bottle. Regular apple cider vinegar has little use for chickens other than as an acidifier.
    The organic stuff has lots of healthy enzymes that are destroyed in the process of making the conventional type.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  10. hydroswiftrob

    hydroswiftrob Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What they said! I use this
    [​IMG]
     

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