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what are the logistics of hatching your own meat birds?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by anniemary, May 12, 2010.

  1. anniemary

    anniemary Songster

    Mar 23, 2009
    I'm wondering how feasible it is to hatch your own meaties for customer processing instead of ordering them every season.

    I like the idea of fully producing my own chickens but I feel a bit lost when it comes to figuring out how many I could process, how many I would need to keep to produce eggs for future prospects, etc. Especially since meat birds are not good egg producers. Am I being naive? Is it more efficient to just order the chicks?

    Could you share their experience with producing their own chicks for their broiler business?

    THANK YOU!!!

  2. scubaforlife

    scubaforlife Songster

    Jul 13, 2009
    I will be willing to bet its just more economical to order them as scaling up would be difficult.
  3. ChIck3n

    ChIck3n Chirping

    Apr 12, 2010
    Texas A&M
    If by meat birds you mean cornish cross, then it would take VERY careful management. You have to control the feed intake of the birds so they will not grow so large they can not lay, but also keep them from starving. It is a very careful balance that is still being perfected by the big companies. These birds are supposed to grow very fast and large, so you have to feed them low protein foods on a very careful daily (or sometimes every other day) schedule.. I would say it would be much easier to just order the chicks, and save on the feed and headache that it would take to grow your own.

    However, you could also just get some heavy breed chickens and raise them for food. There is a reason they are called "dual purpose breeds" [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  4. SteveH

    SteveH Songster

    Nov 10, 2009
    West/Central IL
    Quote:Totally agree . I'm trying to manage some for use in a cross , and can tell you that attempting to breed your own hybrid meaties would be a pain . Plus it would be an economic disaster . The meaties we buy are the terminal result of 4 lines so will not breed true ; you would probably get mostly nice meaties from their chicks but not as good as their parents [ which even on restricted diets will have been costly to maintain ] .
  5. Bossroo

    Bossroo Songster

    Jun 15, 2008
    Hint ! I started with my parents line of RIR and also baught NH and BRs and also raised my own for 6 decades. About 3 years ago I baught some Cornish X chicks. Then, when I saw the results I was getting in 6-8 weeks vs. my own in 16-24 weeks... NO CONTEST... I now buy my Cornish X chicks 3 times a year, raise them to 6-8 weeks of age, invite them to freezer camp ,and enjoy my free TIME for the rest of the year . [​IMG] Money W A Y ahead of the game. [​IMG]
  6. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    It depends on exactly what you want to do with your birds. If you want to raise them strictly for home use, you have a lot more leeway for body type, size, etc., than if you want to sell to the public. Consumers tend to lean toward birds that look like the ones the see at the store, maybe a bit larger, and if your birds have better flavor, then once they try them, they'll be back.

    If you want broiler strains, to sell to the public, such as Cornish X, Freedom Rangers, Red Broilers, Black broilers, Jumbo Cornish X, etc., you're probably better off just buying chicks.

    I have started using a standard dark Cornish roo as the terminal sire (standard Cornish is the most recommended breed for terminal sire) over several breeds of hens to see what I get. So far, the results look pretty good. I eat excess roos from what I hatch anyway, but if these grow a bit faster, that's even better. I don't care for the Cornish X's, I don't want the super fast growth. I'd rather have a more active bird that takes maybe 12 weeks to grow out, (the Rangers take longer than CX's, but I'm not sure what the exact time frame is) rather than the 6 week CX's. I think I'll be able to keep a flock of breeders and hatch out the desired number for meat pretty much whenever I want. Meanwhile, I'll have fresh eggs year round, with extras to sell most of the time, and a few extra hens to sell, as well. Maybe I'll sell my own meat chicks, too, eventually, but local pick-up only. Mine will be hybrids as well, but from my own cross, so I'll have parent birds I can maintain to repeat the breeding as needed.

    But, as I said, this is early on in the experiment, so I'm still waiting to find out the final results. I have an incubator full of eggs right now, and a friend of mine has a small number of chicks he hatched from eggs from my birds.

    I've never had a problem with my own birds not living long enough to breed, which is a problem with CX's. I hear that the Rangers and Red/Black Broilers are better able to live to breed, without a huge amount of special care. So that's a option you may want to consider. There's a good consumer market for them, and even though, just like the CX, they're hybrids and won't entirely breed true, and pretty fair number of them will turn out like the parents.

    I only raise meat for home use, because the processing regulations in KY just make it too ridiculous, time consuming, and expensive, to deal with to try to sell to the public. I'd have to spend around $60,000 to build a facility the state would approve, to be allowed to process my own to sell, and the nearest place I could take mine for processing is over an hour away, and charges $3.25 per bird. So I'd have to take a truckload (or station wagon full) of crates full of live birds to the processor, take the crates back home and unload them, clean the vehicle, fill it full of coolers and ice, go back to get the processed birds to bring home. That would be about 300 miles driving, and a lot of time, plus the fee for processing, plus the cost of the crates, the coolers, (though the crates and coolers wouldn't be an expense each time, they'd last for years before they needed to be replaced) and the ice. Don't forget the cost of raising the birds to begin with. I'm not sure I could break even, even if I got $15 a bird for them. Around here, I'm not sure I'd be able to sell them for enough to make it worth the trouble. Now, if I could process them at home and sell them, or if there were a processing near me, it would be a much more economically feasible situation. So be sure you check out your state laws before you get in too deep with this, too. I've figured up the cost for a first batch of 50 birds, (if I ordered chicks) it would cost me about $13 a bird from post office to freezer, if everything went well. After the initial expense of the coolers and crates, it would only cost me about $8.40 per bird, if all went well. So IF I could sell them high enough, I could make a profit. This is KY's idea of being small-farm friendly.
    Last edited: May 13, 2010
  7. anniemary

    anniemary Songster

    Mar 23, 2009
    Wow! Thanks for all the advice!!! I'm really leaning toward Freedom Rangers and I'm thinking I'll purchase the baby chicks. I just don't quite get the whole genetics thing...yet.

    I'll keep my bator, tho' for my laying hens just for the fun of it. [​IMG]

    I'm also thinking I might experiment and try a few Cornish X and Freedom Rangers to see what tastes better. You have really helped me narrow things down!

    I love this site. You all are so wonderful to help me out!!

    Thank you!!![​IMG]

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