Space needed for meat chickens

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by aliciaFarmer, Dec 12, 2018.

  1. aliciaFarmer

    aliciaFarmer Songster

    178
    261
    132
    May 3, 2018
    Oregon
    This coming late winter/early spring we will be venturing into raising meat birds for the first time, but I'm having a difficult time finding recommendations on coop/housing size. We won't be doing Cornish -- either starting with Rangers or even the Meyer's "fry pan bargain" of solely mixed cockerels. They will have their own coop, separate from my other hens and roos, in a space I'm in the process of building myself. Currently it's 4x8' with a 4x4' loft but I'm considering enlarging it. All of my chickens and ducks are let out 10-20 minutes before official sunrise and put back in around sunset so will never be cooped up in the day. The meat birds will have about 1500sf to free range in (the fenced half of my garden area that isn't yet planted -- they will help to prep it). Since we'll be processing between 12 and 16 weeks I presume they can have less inside space than my laying/breeding flock but I also don't want to cram them in or be inhumane. For those experienced in raising birds for meat, how many cocks do you feel could comfortably live (or sleep, essentially) in that amount of space? 32sf main floor and 16sf loft.

    I was planning on starting small, like 16 to 24ish birds (especially since we'll surely have others to process from our 28 layers/breeders) but want other's opinions before I order them.

    Thank you so much.
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  2. mixedbreeds

    mixedbreeds Songster

    All I have done are Cornish x and rangers. I built two 8x8 brooder/grow out pens and I started them all in one then split 15 to each side. They stayed in there till butcher about 12 weeks I like them big. That is about all the chickens I wanted in that amount of space as they never left and the poop was big consideration. Your situation will be different though so you could probably do a higher density. I didn’t have any loss either.
     
    Compost King and aliciaFarmer like this.
  3. aliciaFarmer

    aliciaFarmer Songster

    178
    261
    132
    May 3, 2018
    Oregon
    Thank you so much! That's great info -- I appreciate you taking the time to reply. I'm thinking maybe I'll stick to 16 at most the first round because I'd rather them have plenty of space rather than too little, though outside time will pretty much be their entire waking lives.

    Awesome on no loss!! I've heard that that's rare with Cornish.
     
    Compost King likes this.
  4. mixedbreeds

    mixedbreeds Songster

    Yes they have been doing great the last couple of years. I let them eat all they want for the first two weeks then 12 hours of feed and 12 hours without. That’s plenty and I could probably get a better feed conversion if I feed them more times during the day taking it away more but they have been doing so well I didn’t want to screw it up.
     
    aliciaFarmer likes this.
  5. aliciaFarmer

    aliciaFarmer Songster

    178
    261
    132
    May 3, 2018
    Oregon
    I'd definitely stick with that method since it works so well. That's awesome!
     
  6. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Songster

    1,061
    1,372
    236
    Nov 12, 2017
    Western Ohio
    The meat birds like Cornish aren’t exactly active when they get big, so not likely to need a really large area. We did not have Cornish, but a similar fast growth, white feathered meat bird. They were still running (short stretches) and walking at butcher age of 7.5 weeks. They didn’t really scratch up the dirt either, like our other birds. We kept them indoors at night, but free range in a fenced area during the day. They ran hot, and we provided cool water and feed at separate locations to encourage walking. We had to provide shade all day, otherwise they were uncomfortable, so luckily their area was on the eastern side of the barn so they we’re completely shaded for the afternoon. We provided feed and lots of water 24/7. They seemed to drink a lot of water all day. We kept 12 and that was a great number to start with.

    Good luck.
     
    taghorser and aliciaFarmer like this.
  7. JMotuzick

    JMotuzick Songster

    345
    434
    136
    Oct 31, 2017
    Northwest Connecticut
    We did 27 rangers for 12 weeks this summer in a 6x10 tractor moved at least once a day. We lost one at about 7 weeks not sure exactly why. They did have water in a bucket with horizontal nipples 24/7 and where feed when I got home at 3pm and again at 8pm. Outside at 3 days with a hot plate for a week and a dog kennels (a cardboard box would work great too) for a wind brake.
     
    eggup and aliciaFarmer like this.
  8. aliciaFarmer

    aliciaFarmer Songster

    178
    261
    132
    May 3, 2018
    Oregon
    Thank you so much for the info. I cannot bring myself to raise Cornish or any fast growing bird personally but I'm so glad to hear that you had good luck with it. 12 does sound like a perfect starting number, especially for a beginner like me. The "run" may be far larger than necessary but I'd rather have too much space than too little, personally. Mostly because we decided our first round will be miscellaneous cockerels that are sold as the "fry pan bargain". Longer grow time, more feed and less weight, but I think, or presume a goid starting place and alternative to Cornish/x. I will definitely make sure to provide lots of shade -- i hadn't actually thought about that since it will still be the cool season and the only shade would have been under their house so I'm planning a totally different location now with half sun, half shade. I appreciate the tip!
     
    Acre4Me and RUNuts like this.
  9. aliciaFarmer

    aliciaFarmer Songster

    178
    261
    132
    May 3, 2018
    Oregon
    That sounds like a great set up! And fantastic idea about a wind break. I will do that for sure, thank you. I had thought we should keep them inside with a warming plate or two for 3 weeks so this is good information. I really appreciate it. I may be wrong in my thinking but I planned on 24/7 food and water until the last 36 to 48 hours, then just water. I just got some nipples and buckets but haven't made them into waterer yet -- I'm excited.
     
  10. RUNuts

    RUNuts Free Ranging

    2,055
    10,566
    532
    May 19, 2017
    Eastern Houston
    Best wishes!
    I got mine in warmer months and they only had one week in the brooder, then into the chicken tractor. They quickly outgrew the tractor and I'd open it into the fenced garden to let them devour the garden. Worked well. They loved the giant who brought food.

    Shade, wind breaks and dry spots needed. We had flooding rain near the end and they wound up on the garden. The wood chips made it the highest and driest spot.

    I kept food and water available, but the last 3 weeks they would empty the food themselves. Not starving when I got home, but they would put a dent in the food left out. Then finish it off for breakfast.
     
    aliciaFarmer likes this.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: