Some meat bird questions/concerns

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by BCollie, Oct 19, 2014.

  1. BCollie

    BCollie Songster

    Mar 22, 2013
    Redding, CA
    Hi all! We are butchering and processing our 3 cockerels this weekend, and I'm hoping it will convince my parents that we should raise meat birds. I've seen the conditions that even "humanely raised" birds are grown in and it's horrible. I would love for us to have our own meat birds.

    Freedom Rangers vs. Cornish X...The Freedom Rangers would be over $1 more expensive per bird, which can really add up after a while. But I've read they don't have as many leg issues, are more active, will free range, etc...I would love for my meat birds to free range, for two reasons. 1, free ranged birds just seem happier. And 2, it would mean poop is not building up in just one spot(by their feeders) in the yard, it would be spread out all over the yard...which means not as much stink and less work for me because I wouldn't have to be cleaning up poop all the time.
    I don't want raising meat birds to be a bad experience for us - I've read many people had bad experiences with Cornish X, but some didn't. Some people's CX would free range, others would just sit by the feeders all day. So I'm not really sure what we should look into ordering. What's probably the most important deciding factor, though, is crowing. Will either of these breeds be crowing by the typical slaughter time?(If I remember right, 8-10 weeks for CX and 11 or so weeks for FR's) Roosters/cockerels(or more, their crowing) are illegal here. Crowing is absolutely NOT allowed here.
    OR instead of JUST Cornish X or JUST Freedom Rangers, I could get a combination of RED Rangers and Cornish X...but then again the RR are more expensive per bird.

    We would need a temporary coop for the birds. But we don't want to be spending $100+ on a coop, because if we only raise 10-20 birds then decide that we, for some reason, don't want to raise any more...then that adds an extra $5-10 per bird, which is a LOT.

    For me to convince my parents that we should stop buying store bought meat, I need to be able to do this while keeping the cost somewhat close to that of store bought meat. If we could do it for $2/pound or less, that would be ideal. Is that possible? I can get a 50lb bag of Starter/Grower 20% protein feed for $17 from Tractor Supply.

    I am sure that I(and my parents) will have more questions/concerns, but that's it for now.

    Any advice and input would be greatly appreciated! TIA!
  2. Bossroo

    Bossroo Songster

    Jun 15, 2008
    I have raise the so called " heritage" chickens for decades, then about 5 years ago, I switched to the Cornish X and never looked back. The Cornish X is the most efficient converter of feed to meat of any chicken out there... BAR NONE ! I butcher mine at 8 weeks of age and don't experience any of the "Issues" that some naysayers bad mouth them about but can't admit that they themselves lack proper husbandry skills. While the Red Rangers by 8- 11 weeks of age many of the roosters will start their sarranades at daybreak. To eliminate just about all of the issues that you mentioned, try doing as I am doing too. Buy the day old Cornish X chicks and raise them to 35 days of age that dress out about 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 lbs. for what the grocery stores call " Cornish Game Hen". Win , Win ! [​IMG]
  3. onaquest55

    onaquest55 In the Brooder

    Aug 15, 2014
    I agree about the Cornish x. I am raising both right now since I could not decide which one to get. I have not processed yet as the cornish are 7 weeks old and weighing between 4.5-5.5 lbs. I restrict their feed at night and they are in a large outdoor pen with access to grass. I will butcher in a week and half. The red rangers I have at the same age are MUCH smaller in size...They are slightly more active but they both sit around a lot. When they don't have access to their crumbles they do move around quite a bit. The red rangers are prettier with their red feathers and never went through the ugly phase, however I feel a huge difference in breast size when I pick them up. I will probably be able to process them when they are 12 weeks or so. point is, they may be more active but they both do a lot of pooping, but you will have the cornish for only 8 weeks vs 12+ weeks.
  4. BCollie

    BCollie Songster

    Mar 22, 2013
    Redding, CA
    Thanks guys!!
    What would you say are the common mistakes that people make when raising CX that make it a bad experience for them?

    I would definitely want to raise them to full size though, the 8 week point. :)
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2014
  5. KCMOLisa

    KCMOLisa Chirping

    Aug 17, 2014
    The Cornish are definitely going to be the fastest and cheapest to raise. I'm doing my first batch right now. They have 4 days left until freezer camp and I also haven't experienced any of the health problems or leg problems everyone always brings up when they're badmouthing them. I'm obviously no expert on them, but I will put in my 2 cents. I think the reason people say they don't act like chickens is because they don't treat them like chickens. Even most people that raise them as "pastured" chicken still keep them in a pretty small enclosed area (i.e. chicken tractor). That was originally my plan, but a few people on this forum convinced me to let them out, and I am so happy I did. I let mine out every morning and they run around the yard all day. They find bugs. They chase grasshoppers. They are actually pretty fast runners (especially when I show up with food)! They take dust baths. They scratch and peck the ground. They try to fly off my porch. They are also very friendly.

    The most important thing you can do, in my opinion, is to not keep food in front of them all the time. They are extremely motivated by food. This is the only thing I have found that makes them act any different from regular chickens. Feed them at certain times of the day and then take the feeders away. They will start to venture out and look around if there's no food sitting around. When I first put mine outside, they were around 2 1/2 weeks old. They didn't go very far and they always stayed together in a group. They got braver every day and more interested in bugs every day. Now as soon as I open the pen for them in the morning, they all rush out and try to get to the best cricket/grasshopper spots first. Watching a Cornish Cross run at full speed is one of the funniest things you have ever seen.

    I feed them four times a day since I work from home. I think it helps them process everything and put on the most weight per pound of food. But I know a lot of people on here who only feed theirs once or twice a day. It's really up to you. The key is to not just put down the feeder and leave it out all day. I put 1 gallon waterers all around my yard because they do drink a lot of water.

    Yes, they do poop a lot, but anything that grows that fast is going to poop a lot. Free ranging them will help it from piling up in one spot and keep them much cleaner.

    I've never tried the Freedom Rangers, so I can't really give you a direct comparison. I'm sure they would be fine also, but from a cost perspective, another $1 per bird plus an extra month of feeding them doesn't make much sense. I think you will be very happy with the way free-range Cornish Cross act. In fact, I am kind of upset mine are so funny and sweet. It's going to be so hard to send them to freezer camp. I was expecting nasty, lazy chickens that I couldn't wait to get rid of after reading all the horror stories online.

    Here's a short video I took of mine a few weeks ago. They were 4 weeks old.

  6. popsicle

    popsicle Songster

    I haven't bought poultry from the store for more than a year.

    I personally have been very happy raising "heritage" breeds similar as described by Ussery in the Small Scale Poultry Flock book. Basically, in the spring and summer I order a couple batches of hatchery choice chicks (straight run, variety of breeds). After the cockerels start annoying me, I will butcher two at a time as needed over the summer. Once the cockerels are gone, I start in on the pullets/hens--the oldest, worst performers, most annoying going first. For us, it just works out best to have a flock of 20 to 50 birds where I can go out and process two or three at a time as needed.

    I have only raised about a dozen broilers--half were white Cobb things the other half were red rangers. I will never purposefully bring those things on my property ever again. Mainly I require flexibility, broilers just aren't flexible enough in management nor butcher date. I don't want to have to brood them separate, I don't want to house them separate, I don't want to feed them separate, and I certainly don't want to be forced to go out and butcher a group of birds because they will drop dead if I don't.

    ETA: Sorry I apparently cut-and-forgot-to-paste some comments on your concerns.
    -As mentioned by others, the broilers are typically ready to process at 8-12-weeks, their housing can be very temporary and doesn't necessarily need to cost $100.
    -Butcher your three birds, then imagine having to do 10 or 12 at a time. Easy peasy if you've got several hands on deck, or have a plucker, etc. Not so much fun if on your own (I usually am, since the husband is keeping our young kids occupied.
    -I understand it's perhaps easier to do a whole mess of birds at one time, instead of doing a couple every few weeks... HOWEVER... since it's usually just me, the most I can do without being fatigued is about 5 chickens or 3 turkeys. I don't have a plucker. I also dislike freezing the meat. Our freezers are usually full of goat, venison and pork (I don't think we've bought any meat at a grocery store in over a year).
    -Is raising heritage birds cheaper than a chicken from the store? No. Are heritage birds cheaper than broilers? unlikely. Does my family spend less money on meat than we did when buying from the store? Absolutely. We simply eat less meat since we've committed to not buying it. We also waste far less and appreciate what we have.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014
  7. phalenbeck

    phalenbeck Songster

    Aug 14, 2008
    Canton, N.C.
    My last Cornish X were raised with a 4 x 8 frame with 1/2 inch pvc (water supply) pipe bent and a plastic tarp covering. I also covered the top of the frame with welded wire so they could poop through. A couple more 2 x 4 for roosting. So my cost was 4-5 boards, a bit if wire, a plastic tarp, a couple chunks of 1/4 cheap ply for the sides. Most stuff was junk I had lying around, and 1/2 inch pvc is almost free at he lumber yard. I doubt materals would be 25-50 dollars, and I will re-use for 2-4 years.
  8. bhanley

    bhanley In the Brooder

    Jun 20, 2014
    Princeton, Ontario
    This is exactly my experience, word for word!!
  9. BCollie

    BCollie Songster

    Mar 22, 2013
    Redding, CA
    Thanks everyone for your input - I will respond to each post as soon as I can. I've been reading them but haven't felt well, so don't really feel like putting in the time to type a lot right now. I'll respond once I'm feeling better. Thanks again :)
  10. WildThang

    WildThang Chirping

    Jun 10, 2014
    Alot of people like to use large breed chickens, like the Jersey Giants, and so forth. Or Pekins for ducks, because they typicaly get bigger and have alot more meat on them. We have 12 Chickens, 6 ducks, 2 Turkeys the food cost isn't that bad. I would say if your just starting off. If it were me getting meat birds, i would go for the larger breed. With A few hens for eggs, More Roo's but right before the Roo's would start going at it with the hens, i would start butchering them. That way, you will be producing eggs and meat, without harming any of your egg layers. Roo's taste the same as hens, so it really doesn't matter which one you butcher.

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