Raising meaties without a tractor...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jennyf, Feb 8, 2017.

  1. jennyf

    jennyf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm about to get my very first 12-14 Cornish X meat chicks to start! I can't accommodate a tractor--we are in the suburbs and the yard used by small kids (the part of the yard that doesn't already belong to the layers, that is...). I have a 100 ft sq area in the garage for them as well as a connected 100 sq ft pen outside. It's grass now but I'm sure it won't be for long! What's my best option? Try deep litter outside or will there just be too much poop? Sand and scoop it daily? Leave it dirt and rake poop daily? Straw? Inside the garage, I was planning on using shavings and picking out heavily soiled areas daily.
     
  2. cavemanrich

    cavemanrich Overrun With Chickens

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    If it was I,,, then I would go deep liter in the out door pen , and straw/hay/shavings in the garage. 100 square feet is a pretty good area. I don't think it would get overused or crowded with the number of broilers you will be having. Every so often, rake out the garage bedding into the outdoor Deep litter and mix up with a pitch fork, or rake, or such. In other words turn it over. You should have good results. If you do encounter too much odors from the deep litter, then sprinkle some PDZ over it. That should curb the odors.
    WISHING YOU BEST.... [​IMG]
     
  3. MasAhora

    MasAhora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't know your climate but mine is wet and humid so I've not tried deep litter, I use shavings inside the coop. I had a few meaties, not cornish X, but the biggest ones of the group didn't roam too far from the feed trough (ever hopeful I'd refill more than twice a day!!) so I had to keep these ones from sitting in poop and their favourite wet gross dirty spots constantly.
    They did love clean fresh grass in the shade so I let them out the pen for a couple of hours when there was afternoon shade and the layers area was locked off and fed I them outside so they'd sit and chill and even try to dust bathe afterwards in the clean grass (then they'd race back to their pen the instant they saw me return...hoping for more food but making them very easy to control).
    I also dumped short lawn cuttings from our smallest 'yard' mower in a few piles, raked a little out and let them do the rest. It was fairly easy a couple of days later to rake up the poopiest areas and replenish and they seemed to enjoy a little scratching and rearranging.

    I also put a chunky wonky tree branch across the pen floor, they seemed to enjoy 'roosting' on it in the shade even if some branch parts were not even an inch off the ground... at least they were not sitting in poop around the empty feed trough! They did like someone watching them preening and talking silly to them, I figured preening was a healthy happy activity so I hung out with them often after evening feed time was done.

    However my best learning accident...... due to unexpected circumstances I had halved their grassy pen initially when they were small chicks (and this kept the grass greener and cleaner in the closed section) later they got larger and I was able to open up the "fresh" space....it doubled their pen size instantly and gave them a clean section they were fed in, while kind of resting the dirty section (which I raked, hosed off and spread grass clippings over). I'd recommend expanding their access to the whole pen in stages as they grow from tiny chicks....they get new fresh dirt to play on every few days plus the food moves further away forcing activity.
     
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  4. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you already have your meat birds by now, then by now you already know you can't keep them inside for more than a week. You will get choked out by the smell, even if you change out their litter 2x a day. But since it's so cold out, you will have to, so next year, wait until May. If you have any space outdoors, let them out. Provide them with cover (as much of their area as you can to avoid it getting wet) and DE or PDZ the snot out of it. You should be butchering your current batch before it gets warm enough to let them outside.

    Meat birds are horrendously disgusting live creatures. But you'll never eat meat from the store again.
     
  5. jennyf

    jennyf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They are actually 3 1/2 weeks old and doing great! The brooder area is 100 sq ft, and I bedded with about an inch of shavings. Perhaps it's working because they have plenty of room to spread out? I scoop out the heaviest traffic areas every couple of days, but so far so good. First outdoor time today and it's supposed to be 60s the next couple of weeks so we should get more. I'm sure they'll get stinkier, but so far so good!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Looking good! The size of the brooder must be the trick. Keep it up and get them outside as much as possible. I have a 4w x 2.5h x 8l brooder and I was changing the litter 2x a day by the time they were 1 week. By the time they were 3.5 weeks, they were outside. I don't get mine until mid May because I need them outside - can't stand the smell.
     
  7. MasAhora

    MasAhora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sweet pic, they are enjoying themselves and getting to be chickens.[​IMG] They require a different kind of thinking and effort to keep clean and active, I hope you enjoy them!

    They are not disgusting unless a person forgets they eat more than twice as much as the layer birds, so poop thrice as much, and also grow twice as fast as the layers so they make larger poops more often and are less agile and energetic........from my little squad of 10 non-cornish x meaties I learned, they need four times the space and double the caretaker energy (and ingenuity) I anticipated - mostly because they grow so very fast, eat more and do not roam as much the layers but do like to see bugs, preferably easy to catch bugs.

    I am appalled at how some of my friends raise their cornish x birds annually - I am very tempted to ask why they do not just make them into battery hens in little boxes or simply go and collect a bunch of birds from an intensive commercial growing factory then butcher and eat them... why pretend to raise something differently to BigAg when you're not?
    These 'family-raised' birds get 1/5 the space of their layer birds, zero stimulation, fed a diet to induce meat growth but poor bone and organ development, etc and then the birds are called disgusting and the owners won't look at them for the last 2 weeks of their miserable lives.

    Enjoy your little fluffy Thunder Thighs, (yep, even after many poopy days *sigh*) ....update with pics and share anything you learn along the way!
     
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  8. MasAhora

    MasAhora Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jenny, I just read this and thought you might be interested:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1142841/rotating-meat-chickens-as-a-garden-crop#post_18145845

    Originally Posted by lazy gardener [​IMG]

    Simply start them on the lawn in the spring, and give them hay, straw, garden debris when they've denuded the strip. Keep tossing on more bedding, and you really shouldn't need to do any "cleaning". Studies have shown that raising successive batches of chicks on old bedding left behind by the previous batch (as long as you've not had disease issues) do better and have a better feed conversion rate than the previous group. This is b/c the used litter has a much higher concentration of beneficial bacteria and fungi to "seed" the guts of the following broods.
     
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  9. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As someone who free ranges CXs on grass, I will caution you about allowing your birds to free range on your garden. Their waste is extremely harsh. The areas where we free range our CXs take two whole years to regrow just grass because their feces burn the grass so badly. This past year we started scratch planting grass seed because we have run out of free range real estate and some areas have yet to recover. We do, however, raise 30 - 50 birds at a time, so we have alot more waste on the grass to deal with.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  10. ChickenChaser9

    ChickenChaser9 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This I agree with 100%. I refuse to even touch a Cornish X for this very reason. The breed itself is nothing short of a frankenchicken to begin with after all the cross breeding and genetic modification we have done to them as a whole. I want nothing more than to see BigAg companies go under because they are nothing but abusers and torturers, I have no desire to replace one great evil with a smaller scale but essentially identical system. If you think that raising anything using the methods MasAhora describes is at all justifiable you do not deserve to be in charge of a latrine detail let alone being in charge of something's life and upbringing. For shame!
     

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