Fn87

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2020
27
20
34
Westchester, New York
Hello this is my first time raising chicks. I work at a farm and we received a shipment of 300 or so layer chicks five weeks back. Around 70 of them were leghorns, 25 are welsummers, 100 are isa browns, and 100 are various easter eggers. We have been raising them in a brooder inside our greenhouse.

Fast forward to now, I've found out to my alarm and dismay that the "little" guys we'd thought were leghorns are actually turning into rather massive Cornish Meat Crosses. (I thought they looking kind of huge considering leghorns are a pretty slim breed and they were over taking the ISA browns in leaps and bounds and recently had my suspicions confirmed on here) They've been panting in the brooder, the temperature probably too warm for their stocky bodies, they've been going through a 50lb bag of food a day (Purina Start & Grow medicated and unmedicated), and the ISA browns (and some of the other breeds too) have been relentlessly picking at their feathers to the point that we had to separate out the wounded leghorns and raise them in our other greenhouse while they recover from the cuts.

We didn't mean to raise meat hens (obviously), the hatchery just really messed up. And I'm sure there are all sorts of precautions and licensing involved in raising birds for food. I really don't know what we'll do with them only one or two weeks away from when they normally would be butchered. But out of curiosity, what should we have done if we were raising meat hens? What should we be doing now in order to keep them "healthy", and what should we have been doing now if we had intended to raise meat hens?

Again, we're feeding them Purina start & grow which they are allowed to eat unmonitored. They're drinking water with apple cider vinegar. They're being raised in a brooder kept at 70º to 75º F. We let them out into an enclosure perhaps roughly 80 or 90 square feet every day inside of our greenhouse. They're on pine shavings in the brooder and straw in the enclosure - we don't have any grass for them in the greenhouse :( . We haven't been changing out the pine shavings because of how it stresses out the chicks and instead add more pine shavings on top when it looks like it's getting too humid or smelly. Inside the brooder we're using heat lamps with red bulbs and with ceramic bulbs.
 

Fn87

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2020
27
20
34
Westchester, New York
You can probably sell them live for butcher or process for friends to buy under the table
The processing place nearby is backed up due to the pandemic. But I'm really wondering if we should have been feeding them differently, how big of a concern is it that they're with the layers, should we have them permanently out of the brooder at this point, do you have to keep them cleaner or something because you sell the meat??? I know literally nothing about meat breeds and how to raise them.
 

Fn87

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2020
27
20
34
Westchester, New York
What an unwelcome surprise. Not only do you have meat birds that you have no real use for now you don't have the 100 laying hens that you needed. So sorry!!
I knoooow it's a complete fiasco. It is a fascinating learning experience getting to watch how different types of hens grow at different rates. But I'm sure I would have preferred learning about them through videos and books rather than an actual real life experience. 🤣 ;-;
 

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,088
1,622
361
NY
Federal law says you can process 1000 "bird units" without a permit, so long as they are sold in-state, so you're good, And definitely better selling them over the table than under! It's legal, so do it right.
Bird units = 1 chicken=1 unit, 1 duck=2 units, 1 goose or turkey = 4 units.
https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2017/05/producergrower-1000-bird-limit-exemption/#:~:text=It permits a poultry raiser,equivalent) within one calendar year.

Page 11
https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/c...ltry_Slaughter_Exemption_0406.pdf?MOD=AJPERES


As far as their care, yes, move them out of the brooder. Give them space for their WEIGHT, not their AGE (a 4# bird needs as much space as any other 4# bird, whether it's a year old hen or a month old broiler)
Get them onto a poultry finisher ration.
Yes, keep them clean - which is a LOT easier when they have the right amount of space. People who complain that meat birds are disgusting are trying to raise 25 5lb broilers in the same space they raise 25 1/2lb layer chicks in - the number might seem the same, but really you have 10x as much bird in there.

It is not hard to process them yourself, and you don't have to make a day of it. Do one, and ok, you're over the hump, you can do this. Take a few days. Then do 5, ok, you have figured out how to get a system going, take a few days. Then do 20, ok, great, that went a lot faster and smoother than you thought it would, because you have the prep done.

Also, when you butcher, they don't all have to be beautiful roasters - skin them and part them out if it's easier. You've bought skinless chicken breast at the store, just do that and can the rest. Homemade canned chicken is amazing to have on hand.

You got this.
 

Fn87

In the Brooder
Sep 30, 2020
27
20
34
Westchester, New York
Federal law says you can process 1000 "bird units" without a permit, so long as they are sold in-state, so you're good, And definitely better selling them over the table than under! It's legal, so do it right.
Bird units = 1 chicken=1 unit, 1 duck=2 units, 1 goose or turkey = 4 units.
https://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2017/05/producergrower-1000-bird-limit-exemption/#:~:text=It permits a poultry raiser,equivalent) within one calendar year.

Page 11
https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/c...ltry_Slaughter_Exemption_0406.pdf?MOD=AJPERES


As far as their care, yes, move them out of the brooder. Give them space for their WEIGHT, not their AGE (a 4# bird needs as much space as any other 4# bird, whether it's a year old hen or a month old broiler)
Get them onto a poultry finisher ration.
Yes, keep them clean - which is a LOT easier when they have the right amount of space. People who complain that meat birds are disgusting are trying to raise 25 5lb broilers in the same space they raise 25 1/2lb layer chicks in - the number might seem the same, but really you have 10x as much bird in there.

It is not hard to process them yourself, and you don't have to make a day of it. Do one, and ok, you're over the hump, you can do this. Take a few days. Then do 5, ok, you have figured out how to get a system going, take a few days. Then do 20, ok, great, that went a lot faster and smoother than you thought it would, because you have the prep done.

Also, when you butcher, they don't all have to be beautiful roasters - skin them and part them out if it's easier. You've bought skinless chicken breast at the store, just do that and can the rest. Homemade canned chicken is amazing to have on hand.

You got this.
Thank you so much that's really helpful advice
 

RiverOtter

Crowing
11 Years
Nov 4, 2009
1,088
1,622
361
NY
You're very welcome. It's a heck of a way to get your feet wet, but now that it's done, it will be a great, educational experience and there are lots of folks here to help
 

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