Thinking about getting some Meat Birds and have lots of questions.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by blake2727, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. blake2727

    blake2727 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 5, 2012
    I have never had a chicken in my life until about two weeks ago when we got 10 layers. We have cows and horses and have had them our whole life but have never has chickens until now. As I said we now have 10 layers about 2 weeks old but I have been thinking about getting some meat birds also. Property space is not an issue as we live on a farm. I really just know nothing about meat birds and am wanting advice on processing, raising, and any general knowledge. Do you keep a few birds and let them lay for the next year or do you just buy a whole new flock the next year? How difficult is it to process them? Should I jump in with the meat birds also or wait and see how the layers go first? Any advice is appreciated.
     
  2. mixitup

    mixitup Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 10, 2012
    Ontario, Canada
    When we first got our meat birds we were told we had to wait until 16 weeks to cull them. So we ended up with 14 lb birds (not kidding) and a super smelly coop. I didn't find them hard to raise, just a pain in the butt for the time we waited. All we basically did was provide food, water and an outdoor run. So my first experience was an easy one. I would say if you want to try it out, go ahead with a small number to start with and if that goes well, continue on. I love the meat-it's so different from the grocery store stuff you buy.
     
  3. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Overrun With Chickens

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    Oberlin, OH
    We raise 30 meat birds every year. I suggest raising them apart from your layers. Cornish X should be ready to butcher by 8-10 wks. You will be ready too. We feed chick starter all the way through along with vitamins w/electrolyes in their water. Others may drop the protein down a little, that becomes choice. Cornish X are a cross breed so they will not hatch another meat bird. IMHO it is not worth the trouble trying to breed your own. Just get them each year and be done with them. :thumbsup
     
  4. Darin115

    Darin115 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 28, 2008
    Asheboro, NC
    I started out with 6. By the end of their short life I hated them. I started them in a brooder in my basement. After eating them I changed my mind.

    I generally raise 10-12 at a time. I don't have the room for many more than that. I currently am on my 2nd batch of the year. I have 16 now and they will be 3 weeks tomorrow.

    No trouble at all. I keep ACV in the water and don't have much of a poo problem.

    I suggest starting small and working your way up. Try 6-8 at one time and see how many you want after that. They are not for everyone.

    Darin
     
  5. montyhp

    montyhp Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 4, 2008
    South Texas
    I bought 25 "heavy breeds" from ideal in December. Just slaughtered last week. These birds are barred rocks, rhode island reds, orpingtons, and easter eggers (All brown/colored egg layers which is what I prefer). I ended up with 13 roos and 11 hens. Kept the hens for egg laying and butchered the roos. I may try cornish cross next year, but the dual purposes breeds are good eating.
     
  6. the_great_snag

    the_great_snag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2007
    Staples, Minnesota
    I second the suggestion to just do a handful for your first batch and see how you like them. 8 weeks is actually longer than I prefer to hold them though. I butchered one a couple days ago that was only about 5 weeks and he was as big as your average store bought fryer. I prefer to butcher them as young as you can get them fully feathered out.

    I also suggest investing in a plucker of some sort. Plucking is definitely the worst part of processing birds, but personally I won't bother raising birds if they don't have skin on them when I'm done. I have built a drill plucker for under $5 and there are a zillion ways to do it.

    Also, read up on processing as much as you can if you haven't done it before. Important things are getting a proper scald. I do 145 degrees for most of a minute until the big wing feathers pull out easily. A bad scald will make a hard job intolerable...

    Learning to properly eviscerate is helpful too. Watch Featherman's videos on YouTube. They do a great job showing how to do it. Other than that, it's very important to properly chill and rest your birds before freezing them.
     

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