1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Raising meat birds over the winter

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by lcotterman, Nov 24, 2010.

  1. lcotterman

    lcotterman New Egg

    Nov 24, 2010
    I am wondering if people raise meat birds in tractors in the winter? I live in Virginia and we had a terrible winter last year but most years we have winter grazing for our cows most of the time.

    Any thoughts on raising chickens in winter?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. card5640

    card5640 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2009
    Bangor area, Maine
    Given the cold I wouldnt and here is why, you will need to keep them inside for quite sometime under lights, and they can smell pretty bad and get big quick.. When they are of the age that they can go outside, their feather will not cover their bodies due to their fast growing, if you are going to heat the tractor it may be okay.
  3. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    First off,

    I think raising them in a tractor is out of the question unless you can enclose the whole thing and plan on giving them some heat. I did a batch inside during cold weather once, and it was a nightmare. I did them in the barn, but was faced with frozen waterers everyday and very unhappy birds. They just always seemed gloomy. It wasn't worth it IMHO. It can be done, though. I'm processing our last batch Saturday, and will glad to be done for the year. I have had birds on the farm since March 5th, and enough is enough for this guy.
  4. lcotterman

    lcotterman New Egg

    Nov 24, 2010
    Thanks for your replies. That was what I thought but wasn't sure.
  5. willheveland

    willheveland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    I think the birds would put more energy into keeping warm than they would in meat production. Will
  6. Sundown_Farmer

    Sundown_Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Non-Chicago, Illinois
    Beyond the birds, think of what you are doing to the soil. It's dormant and unable to absorb the nitrogen. You'll just burn off the grass where ever your tractor goes. Fill your freezer in the summer. Take the winter off. Better for the birds, better for the farmer, better for the grass.

    I might make an exception if you're going to leave your tractor in one place to make a garden bed. Put in carbon every day, maybe twice. Block out the wind and put on a solid top. Dry birds out of the wind with 6" of compost under them should be warm. They'll shiver off a lot of weight though.
  7. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    Just finishing up my batch of 48 (3 died, 3 butchered for Sunday dinner, so I have 42 left). Lost 2 to cold in the last two days, with lows in the 12-20 degree range. The biggest issue is moving the tractor in snow. You can't really do that. Birds get dirty, etc.

    I'm also raisng half inside and half out in the tractor. The ones inside are larger. Not sure by how much, but there are 20 inside and the rest are outside. I'll be glad to get them out of my shop.

    I'll stick to doing a batch in the early spring each year and then maybe a batch that would start September 1st at the latest.

    If you were in Florida, or other southern tier states that don't get freezing temps, it would certainly be doable.
  8. eKo_birdies

    eKo_birdies Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2010
    Northern Colorado
    Quote:a lot of farms apply fertilizer in the winter for this very reason... no risk of leaching (if you are in an area w/ frozen winters)

    and providing the grass can withstand the increased nitrogen input in the first place, there won't be any risk of permanent damage... it's grass, it's the first thing to grow back
  9. Lorije1

    Lorije1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2010
    I live in Florida but when I am done with this batch of 21 I am done until Spring. Even in just a frost I had to run 2 brooder lights in their shelter with deep litter. When they are fully feathered they do generate a lot of heat, but I would think that would dissipate pretty quickly in the colder north.
    If all goes well (this is my first go at this) I will order more in March for a late April / early May processing and then quit for the summer too (way too hot for these chunkers).
  10. Sundown_Farmer

    Sundown_Farmer Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 2, 2010
    Non-Chicago, Illinois
    Quote:We come out of a frozen February into a swampy March. There's an inch of mud and manure on top of a foot of ice in the ground. The rain tends to wash the manure downstream. Not only do we lose it to leaching, we pollute downstream.

    The farmers applying manure in the winter in Illinois do it because they're not busy doing other things. It's not the best time, just more convenient. The microorganisms in the soil are dormant. The worms are deep. The grass is dormant. Nothing is actively metabolizing the fertilizer as it was in the summer. If you burn the grass off in late fall or winter you may have 5 or 6 months of bare dirt staring up at you. The root system may persist but you're going to have some amount soil loss. At least in Illinois we would. Colorado may just be under snow pack the whole time. On our farm, winter is time to let the soil rest. Chickens are less efficient at converting feed in the cold lowering our profit margins. We celebrate seasons and natural cycles by taking some time off to read and play scrabble.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by