Thinking about getting Meat birds...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by snowhorse, Sep 29, 2009.

  1. snowhorse

    snowhorse Pantry Brook Farm

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    Jun 13, 2009
    MA
    Okay so I had chickens years ago, and have just gotten back into having them again...

    But this time I have learned alot more about my layers, being older and having more access to information than I did.

    I have been toying with the idea of getting meat birds and even some turkeys, However what I want to know is:

    Can meat birds be in with your layers, or should you keep them seperate? ( I know turkeys need to be kept seperate)

    And how much of a process is it to get into processing your own birds? Is it expensive? And the is the end result worth it($ wise)?

    Should I get a plucker machine? Or try it out on my own first?

    I really like the idea of my own fresh meat that I know where it came from, I just want to make sure it makes sense before I get into it!
     
  2. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    you can put them in with your layers but i keep mine separate only because the rations are different... a layer needs different amounts of protein... than a meat bird, who gets more of that to bulk up faster.


    The other questions will be better suited answered by someone else. I take mine to a local processor.
     
  3. snowhorse

    snowhorse Pantry Brook Farm

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    Quote:Well I do have a question for you though, how much does your local processor cost per bird?
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Processing generally costs nearly as much as a whole store bought chicken, if you can find someone to do it for you, and I have not found anyone around here. We made our processing setup for maybe $10. A scrap piece of countertop was really the only expense, but we had things like an ax, scrap wood to make the countertop into a table, etc. We use the garden hose and regular garden spray nozzle for water, and set an old sink into the countertop, which is convenient but not necessary. We use a propane fish cooker to heat water for scalding, but already had this. You can also do it with a turkey fryer or just a campfire and large pot. Sharp kitchen knives and a pair of kitchen scissors/shears are the hand tools. You can buy fancy equipment, like a lung scraper, or scrape the lungs out with fingernails. You can make an inexpensive plucker with a corded electric drill but it is going to scatter feathers everywhere so we scald and hand pluck. There is a design for a homemade tub style plucker on here as well but it still costs over $200 to make. Just not worth it; hand plucking is not that hard or time consuming, after a little practice. A deep fry thermometer for the scalding water is handy. We use a couple of ice chests, one to cool the bird after scalding and one to cool the carcass after cleaning.

    Just how we did it. We can do 8 or 10 birds in a couple of hours or less (2 adults.) One scalds and plucks while the other cleans, guts, etc. Took only a few birds to get the system down pat.

    If you can find someone to show you how to pith them, you don't even need to scald, as the pithing method of killing causes the bird to release its feathers, or so I have read. I'd be afraid to try it unless I had actually seen someone do it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2009
  5. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

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    What ddawn said. I use a LARGE pair of pruning shears to lop off the head because I cannot use an axe. Holding the bird with one hand and wielding an axe with the other is simply not an option for me. I hang the bird up and lop off the head. They bleed out pretty well. Hand plucking is not that big a deal if you get a good scald on them. I have a propane burner and a very large pot to scald in. A few squirts of dish detergent in the water helps. You don't have to process them all at one time either. If I am stuck having to do it all by myself, I will process four or five a day until I do them all.

    Go to www.welphatchery.com for some good instructions on raising meaties.
     
  6. maplesky7

    maplesky7 Flock Mistress

    Jun 14, 2008
    N. IL.
    I pay about $100 for 33 birds and I get half of them cut up and half of them as roasters and put into a airtight freezer wrap and they are also tested for diseases and have a Wisconsin Dept. of AG. inspection sticker on them so I can sell them commercially.
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    It does not cost much of anything for equipment to process *small numbers* of birds at home. I would not want to do more than about 10 per day singlehanded (that's about 5 hrs including cleanup) although with a helper more would be ok. But if you raise a couple batches per year, you will not have too many to process at one time (and they could be split into two sessions, possibly do the pullets one week and the cockerels a week or two later) AND you won't have to store a year's worth of poultry in the freezer all at once either.

    Give it a try, for sure. Give them their own pen, with a lot of airflow and not more crowded than you can avoid (crowding and indoors both tend to produce nasty stink, much different from normal chicken-poo odors), but do try them out and see how it goes for you [​IMG]

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  8. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    Get meat birds- they're great! You should keep your meaties seperate from your layers, preferably in a moveable tractor- otherwise you will be wading through ankle deep poop every other week, and it will smell so bad that you won't want to do meaties again. If you use a tractor, you'll get very little smell. Process your own if you can. I'd do a batch by hand to be sure you want to stick with it, (and to "initiate" yourself,) then build a plucker. It makes the process SO much smoother!
     
  9. snowhorse

    snowhorse Pantry Brook Farm

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    Jun 13, 2009
    MA
    This is all very helpful information. Thank you so much!

    I think I am going to start off plucking by hand to make sure its something I want to get into. But I do need to invest in some equipment, Im pretty sure I'll be doing it by myself primarily, lol don't know anybody in my family who is going to begging to help me haha.

    Where is a good place to order meaties, are there certain types better than others? And do you know a place that I can place a smaller order like 10?
     
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:Nah, you don't need no 'quipment [​IMG], just a good kitchen knife and whatever's your chosen means of killing them (all of which can be accomplished with stuff you have lying around the home already). If you process only a few at a time, like 4-5 (which is really all you'd want to tackle singlehanded the first time ANYhow) you won't even need any ice or picnic coolers.

    Where is a good place to order meaties, are there certain types better than others? And do you know a place that I can place a smaller order like 10?

    Your feedstore should be able to sell you a small order, whenever they do their broiler chick deliveries. Ask. They may or may not be still doing any this year, so it is possible you might have to wait til spring.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     

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