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Tips for the beginer meatie raiser

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by chickenmomma16, Nov 11, 2012.

  1. chickenmomma16

    chickenmomma16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2012
    Buckley, Washington
    My plan is to raise meat chickens this spring I have not a clue where to begin...
    This is all I have so far:
    I figured I want one of the Ranger type. Sounds like they would be more forgiving on a newbie but where would be a good place to get them? Meyer? Ideal? Freedom Ranger Hatchery?

    What type of things do I need to keep in mind raising these guys?

    I went through the Meat Bird stickies and surfed through the forum, there was a lot of things to consider! [​IMG]
     
  2. Salt and Light

    Salt and Light Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's not hard, so don't sweat it too much. It's easy to get over whelmed so maybe it'll help to think of this as 3 different processes: 1) Chick arrival to moving to coop; (2) Raising them in the coop and (3) butchering. Each process has different needs.

    The baby chicks need a confined space with water, food and heat. They like it very warm so you may need a hot lamp. I use a LARGE Rubbermaid container with a heat lamp at one end. I use a 1 qt. waterer and a baby chick feeder. I put a couple inches of pine bedding in the container, put the lamp at one end, the water on the other and the feed in the middle. Use 20% chick starter. Keep them warm, fed and watered and they will grow. You can leave them in their "brooder" as long as you want. I normally move them to the coop after 1 week but I think most keep them inside longer.

    Does this help?
     
  3. SmokinChick

    SmokinChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 27, 2011
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    Don't forget you have to kill them in 8 weeks. Or whatever for Rangers!
    Have someplace to them after they are packaged. 25 birds don't look big on the hoof. Bagged and frozen, they take up some room.

    Good luck.
     
  4. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They grow a LOT faster than any other chicken you've seen.

    They EAT a LOT more than you can fathom - so if you're a ways from your supplier, make sure you've got enough to get through the first month or 5wks.

    They excrete a LOT more than you can imagine - so be prepared to move a tractor, add bedding daily, shovel to compost pile every other day or otherwise work to contain the stink (especially if in urban/suburban area). This is time consuming, as you're going to have 25 'helpers' with you! Think a roomful of preschoolers on a sugar rush....

    The FR's are a lot more active than the CX's - they fly, they roost, they run - and need space to do so. Our run of 25'x50' was too small for them as they got to full size - I wanted to let them free-range on our acre, but the hawks were raising young and I was fearful of loosing one.

    They're beautiful birds that the Lord made - and should be treated as part of the extended family. After all, they're going to sustain your family, so give them just as much t.l.c. as your layer flock.

    Be prepared to process yourself in case you don't have a butcher nearby or plans change suddenly. Not hard to do, but first few are a HUGE learning curve if you've never done processing before.

    Figure out how you're going to freeze 25 HUGE carcasses - are you going to split the meat up and take it off the bone, are you going to leave as fryers/roasters, are you going to be able to turn some into jerky or otherwise dry it? The 25 FR's we did took up as much room in our freezer as our 1/2 a steer! Seriously. And that's with only 10 as fryers; the other 15 were cut into serving types and bagged (breast meat, wings, legs, etc.).

    Enjoy them for all they are! And I can't wait until Spring, when we can do more - they're fun!
     
    1 person likes this.
  5. chickenmomma16

    chickenmomma16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2012
    Buckley, Washington
    I'm mostly worried about the chick arrival. I was given adult laying hens and the chicks I have currently are hen raised so I have been spoiled. :) Now it will be all on me raising these babies. What you said sounds very straight forward. Guess I could do the bare min. my first time around and as I do more batches add little things to their managment.



    Looks like I will be looking for a chest freezer! Thanks for that reminder I forgot about that!


    I read somwhere average 20Ibs of feed per bird. I think that was for 8weeks of life does that sound right? 25'x50' run for 25 birds? How big was your coop? I was thinking of raising 50 FR's I have a few acers of land (we are in the country) I can let them out and free range when Im home, otherwise we are going to build as big a run as we can afford.
    I have processed a few birds before and I have a EE cockerel we plan on having for dinner and they are all be treated with respect and with as much care as my laying girls. That is one reason why I want to raise meaties, I hate the way commercial chickens are raised and treated. I want "happy meat" and know they had the best care I could provide them right up until I say good bye.
     
  6. Salt and Light

    Salt and Light Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Freedom Rangers do NOT mature in 8 weeks. In my experience, it's closer to 12 weeks, and there is significant variability in their weights. Call me crazy, but starting the chicks is really easy. Do you have access to a feed store? If not, you can certainly order online. You really only need a couple of items:
     
  7. chickenmomma16

    chickenmomma16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have about 5 feed stores within 20 minutes of me and they all sell different brands so I will be calling around and getting pricing and info on feed. I don't need organic but something good and not full of fillers. I know FR's don't mature in the average 8wks and that was a con but I'm looking for a big healthy bird and good tasting meat. So if I have to wait for a few more weeks I will. Good things come to those who wait!
     
  8. chickenmomma16

    chickenmomma16 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 16, 2012
    Buckley, Washington
    What would be a good number of birds to start with? A friend wants a dozen or so for his freezer and we want enough to make it worth while. We will be doing our own processing, and have done a few unwanted roos in the past so we have a basic idea of the process.

    Anyone know off hand what hatchery is closest to WA?
     
  9. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2011
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    We have raised 25 now twice. The first 'batch' we kept 1/2 and gave for feed the other 1/2 (kept 12, gave 13 to three families who paid for feed costs only). The second 'batch', we kept 13 and gave 12 to one family who really appreciated our efforts and helped us process also. But I've found the land isn't as forgiving, and 25 is more than their run can handle. Next time around, we'll only do 12-15 and do three batches per year instead of two. And likely not share with others - it is simply too hard to coordinate processing dates and costs and negotiating - bleck! Not again.

    I've learned that I don't cook roast chicken often, so to thaw a whole bird takes at least 3 days in fridge...so planning is a must for those! I do cook chicken 2x/wk - but I use parts - thighs for soups, wings for Sunday games, chests for chx and dumplings. So this last 'batch' we parted the meat before freezing. I'm finding that I'll use that more than the first. Lesson learned!

    As for a good idea of how much you use, since you've got the time - keep a list taped to your cupboard (or somewhere handy) and every time you cook chicken note what and recipe (so 2# thighs - dumplings; 4# breast - bbq; 1# necks - soup; etc). This will help you gauge how you use meat and what kinds of quantities. It truly depends on how many folks you feed and how much they eat. By keeping a log for even 2 or 3 months will help you understand what you're using and how.

    Lastly, remember the freezer space needed. I can fit 8 whole roasters on one shelf in our upright freezer - that's the same space I can fit 1/4 of a cow. Parted out, I fit 13 birds (in pieces) on a little over 1 shelf (some spill-over for necks and giblets). Keep this in mind when you're planning quantity order. Yes, I've seen GREAT chicken jerky recipes on here - but still, that's time and effort and I'm still not done canning for the season!
     

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