What would you do? Need suggestions.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Sweepy, Mar 24, 2015.

  1. Sweepy

    Sweepy In the Brooder

    Sep 8, 2013
    We just recently started raising our third clutch of meat birds (15 Cornish Cross and 25 Red Rangers, both were straight run). After realizing that we could have purchased an incubator with the money we've spent buying the chicks so far, we started considering that maybe we should move on into hatching our own since we can see that we will continue raising our own meat. So, the question is how best to do that. In addition to our 40 new meaties, we have 5 EEs, 3 Dominques, 6 "TSC specials" aka Tetra Tints - all egg layers. So, right now we don't even have a mature Roo.

    In the past, we tried having a Roo but he was so hard on our hens that he'd literally plucked a couple of his favorites bare and sliced up the remaining skin. I wonder if this is what is meant by the difference between a rooster that "does the dance" or one that "rapes" the hens as I've often seen others on BYC make reference to.

    As we move ahead with our effort to hatch our own, what and how many birds would you use for growing chicks? Would you save a roo from CX or RR? Would you save 1 or 2 or more of the hens? Would you use any of the fertilized eggs from the other breeds? We will probably retire some of our older layers and need replacements but as for hatching meaties, would those genes from EEs, Dom, TTs be a waste for hatching? Would you acquire a roo or hens from some other breed instead of using what we already have?

    Thanks in advance. The advice from you BYC enthusiasts and veterans is always so helpful. We literally couldn't have even made it this far without the collective support!
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2015
  2. havery

    havery Chirping

    Feb 27, 2015
    East Texas
    I've looked into hatching my own meat birds for the sake of sustainability, and honestly when you look closely at the price of chicks and the amount of meat you get off these hybrid breeds (Cornish X or Red Ranger) it's always going to be cheaper to just buy the chicks.

    Hybrids do not breed true, meaning you can't breed your own and get reliable, meaty birds like the parents. Even if you could, the cost of feeding those giants while keeping them to breed would far outweigh the cost of chicks. Not to mention the havoc one of those massive roosters would wreck on a standard flock.

    The better choice would be to choose a larger dual purpose breed, but you're just not going to get the amount of meat you're accustomed to, and they take much longer to get to a decent butchering weight compared to a hybrid breed, so you're spending even more money feeding them.

    I really hope someone has a better answer because I've looked long and hard into making a self-sustaining flock a reasonable alternative, and after crunching the numbers I just can't get them to work.
    1 person likes this.
  3. SharkmanDan

    SharkmanDan Songster

    This question perfectly asks my dilemma, but I need to explain further.
    Yesterday, I was gone for a while. we had a scare that caused me to take inventory of my birds on return. Everybody was up, healthy and happy. Ne eggs in the nest. About an hour and a half later, I went to check for eggs, and found three eggs in the nest, and one of the hens, dead, on her back, below the nest. She had not been dead long enough, for the meat to have spoiled, so, I immediately plucked and cleaned her. Obviously, I couldn't bleed her out, because of being already in the beginning stages of rigor mortis. So, the meat dis colored, a bit.
    We stewed her today, and stripped the meat from the bones. But, the meat was pretty tough. Not bad tasting, just tough. I was told that with heritage turkeys, it is best to freeze them first, then defrost, for tenderness. Is this true for chickens, too? Or did I just need to let it rest another day or two, before cooking?
  4. The Kibble Goddess

    The Kibble Goddess Songster

    May 24, 2009
    Sylvania, Ga
    I raise BOs for meat and eggs. Yes, the meat is a bit tougher. I let it 'rest' in the fridge covered with waxed paper for 2 days, then i brine it for 2 days. Cook it low and slow, bake, roast or simmer. It will never be 'store bought' tender, but i'm finding that i prefer it this way.
  5. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Songster

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    My experiences mirror what havey wrote above. I kept a rooster and two hens from my first batch of Freedom Rangers, thinking to hatch out my own first generation hybrids the following spring. The rooster grew HUGE, probably twice the size of my egg chickens and terrorized all the ladies. Egg production went down and I discovered that his favorite hen (one of the two FRs) had open wounds on her back and sides from his claws, so he went into the garage for a night and was butchered the next day. The hens started laying but were never very productive, compared to my heritage layers, although they were also huge and ate alot. One developed a prolapse and I had to butcher her mid winter and I took the final hen the following spring.

    A few years later a Easter Egger chick turned out to be a rooster instead the promised pullet, and since I had several Silver Cukoo Maran hens, I thought to keep the rooster and see if I could raise a few Olive Eggers. Once again, when he hit maturity he became a *******. I had one hen who refused to come out of the coop and spent almost all day on the highest roost. When I let them out to free range, if he went back into the run first the others refused to go in. He was butchered after that.

    I decided to experiment with some dual purpose roosters last year and they took so long to get to anything resembling a butchering size and still only topped out at around 4 pounds of boney carcass that they actually were more expensive per pound to raise than the FRs or CX, even thought the chicks and shipping were considerably more expensive than the DP roosters.

    So, if cost is your main concern, I think you'll find that buying the chicks is the cheepest option...although I haven't tried investing in an incubator and buying hatching eggs...maybe that is cheeper in the long run.

    However, if you are prepping for the apocolypse or something and need something sustainable for that reason and are less concerned with maximizing either egg production or meat production, perhaps something like a flock of Delaware with a few more broody breeds mixed in.
    1 person likes this.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

    Nov 7, 2012
    Certainly, having a good rooster is key to being able to hatch eggs from your own flock. And, I agree that nothing beats the CXR for a quick chick to freezer experience. But, if you're maintaining a flock, unless you plan on opening a geriatric wing on your coop, there is a certain amount of culling that is required. Even more so, if you keep a good rooster and hatch your own eggs. So, if free ranging is part of the equation, those young fryers can be raised without a lot of expense. Granted, they'll not equal the CXR, or the otherwise dedicated meatie, but they will fill the dinner plate. I'm thankful that it doesn't have to be an all or none experience. Raise some CXR one year, process some older hens and cockrels the next.
  7. Kev

    Kev Crowing

    Jan 13, 2008
    Sun City, California
    Heed harvey and hummingbird hollow(alliteration!).

    On paper it seems such a sensible idea.. but the reality is different. First, you're assuming the typical cornish x or ranger rooster is even capable of successfully breeding. They, at least the cornish X are all bred by AI. Just like with broadbreasted turkeys. For the reasons the roosters and toms just cannot breed or may be able to(rangers) but chances of the hen getting injuried or killed in process is high.

    I have a freedom ranger rooster. He was one of the smallest of the cockerels I kept(the others were huge, almost cornish x huge.. kept one of the bigger ones but he went down on leg and had to be culled). He cannot breed standard size hens, either total failure(grabbing and clawing the hen trying to get on) or he manages to get on but the vent cannot meet up. Eggs have been 100% fertile. Gave up on this.

    Recently put him in with the freedom ranger hens, it seems he has been able to successfully breed two hens in particular- he gets way excited about them and to be honest, is an excessive breeder. They started losing feathers but yesterday I noticed something dark just under a hen's wing and horrors, her side was completely sliced from back down the leg. On both sides. Another hen shows the same.. immediately moved the roo to a pen all by himself. So now he is either completely useless or would have to manage him by severely limiting his time with hens. The hens were with a different breed roo previously so I won't be able to tell if there's any fertility from him. The bigger roo that had to be culled for going down on leg most definitely would not have been able to breed the hens... as this small roo just barely manages to stay on the hens and still falls off or slides too far forward, resulting in failure.

    and they eat/drink a LOT....

    To be honest.... simply buying and butchering 100% annually is sounding REALLY good right now...
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2015
  8. The hens that produce the eggs that hatch into Cornish X chicks are not artificially inseminated. The roosters used to breed these hens are not much larger than a White Rock rooster. The size of the Cornish X chicks and their growth rate is caused by the hybridization of 4 (or more) different strains of breeding stock.

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