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Why are my Buff Orpingtons so scrawny at 16 weeks?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by hveggeberg, Jan 29, 2016.

  1. hveggeberg

    hveggeberg Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 29, 2016
    Pilot, Virginia
    Hello, I am new to BYC, raising chickens, and farming.

    We have only raised one flock of chickens so far. Last spring we raised 10 Red Rangers that we bought from Tractor Supply when they were 10 days old. We bought them in March and slaughtered them at 11 weeks. We were very pleased with the quality and quantity of the meat they provided...especially considering how young the birds were.

    We then bought our second flock in September. This time we decided to buy Buff Orpingtons because I heard they were supposed to be great mothers. We learned that raising baby chicks took a lot of attention, and we are hoping that mother hens could take care of some of that for us. So, in September we bought a straight-run of 50 day-old chicks from Stromberg's. We lost 3 in the first week, but then raised the remaining 47 until early January when we harvested 12 of the smallest roosters (at 16 weeks old). After harvesting these 12, we are now left with 6 roosters and 29 hens.

    SORRY FOR THE LONG BACKGROUND INFO...HERE ARE MY ISSUES/QUESTIONS:
    The Buff Orpingtons seemed MUCH smaller than the Red Rangers. The 11-week old Red Rangers were not only bigger/heavier (4-4.5 lbs cook weight) than the 16 week-old Buff Orpingtons (3 lbs cook weight), but the Orpingtons had almost no breasts compared to the Red Rangers.

    What do you think is the issue? Do Orpingtons just grow that much slower than the Red Rangers? We also fed the Red Rangers a different feed than the Orps. The Rangers spent most of their lives eating the grower/starter crumble feed from Tractor Supply. We started the Orps on that, but then switched over to a Laying Mash feed (pellets) from our local mill at around 10 weeks. I tried to upload a picture of the tag from the local feed, but it didn't take. I know the feed is 20% protein. Also, we didn't give the Rangers any grit at all, and we give our Orps very little. Maybe I should be giving them more grit.

    Any ideas are greatly appreciated.
    Ted
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  2. CTKen

    CTKen Monkey business Premium Member

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    Hi Ted,

    Layers food typically contains lower protein levels, so 20% protein seems higher than one would normally expect - guess protein can't be the issue in this case.

    I'm no breed expert (I live in Kenya and we don't have the breed variety that you guys have), but i can only imagine that your Red Rangers were a commercial meat bird, whereas your Orps are not and so they are not genetically wired to put on shed loads of weight very quickly.

    If you write a few more posts, you'll be able to upload the photo - its a safety issue to protect the site from spammers and other tedious, mindless idiots who try to spoil things for us all.

    All the best and welcome to BYC.

    CT
     
  3. JacksFarmNGardn

    JacksFarmNGardn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Red rangers are meat birds,buff orps are dual purpose. They can get a good size,but they grow slower.
     
  4. Lukedawg

    Lukedawg Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 12, 2015
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    Well I can say I have had barred rock and amerucana
    And buff orpingtons.
    The buffs and the rocks are considered a dual purpose layer/meat bird. The red rangers from my understanding are more meat bird than layer the meat birds I have encountered from my dad are much much faster growing and they are not true bird form typically so flying and running are not on their list of strengths.
    That being said he is ready to butcher them at 8-10 weeks.... But my buffs and barred rocks where no where near ready to try and take by that time! I didn't butcher my first one until 16 weeks and even then they where as you said small and lean! They grow much slower and are more of a lean bird so mine for example can fly up into the trees reaching hights of 12-15ft and do ALOT of running around thus they become more lean also rendering less plump meat and more tough muscle.... When stood next to each other the fryers and the dual purpose layers seemed night and day different mine where as I said more bird like and alert and attentive and full of energy as they could fly from one side of the coop to the other whereas my dads fryers seemed stressed out trying to not fall over as they attempted to walk from one side to the other! Very funny to watch and contrasting so no I will never again attempt to purchase a dual purpose bird to be used as a fryer! So no you are doing nothing wrong and there is nothing wrong with your birds they are just not bred for such.
     
  5. junebuggena

    junebuggena Overrun With Chickens

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    Hatchery sourced Buff Orpingtons are not going to be as big as bred-to-standard Orpingtons. And they will not grow as fast as Rangers. Rangers are bred to be a fast growing meat bird with lots of breast meat. Dual-purpose breeds will not dress out the same. Dual purpose breeds tend to have long leg bones, and more dark meat than white meat.
    Also, layer feed is for actively laying birds only. It is never an appropriate feed for growing/developing birds.
     
  6. hveggeberg

    hveggeberg Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 29, 2016
    Pilot, Virginia
    Thank you to everyone who provided feedback to my question. It is much appreciated for a newbie like me. It seems most people agreed that Buff Orpingtons are a dual-purpose breed and will simply take a lot more time to make a good meat bird. But, even with lots of time, they will likely not yield as much white meat.

    That prompted new questions, so I posted a new thread asking whether I should cross-breed my Buff Orp hens, start over with a new breed, or stick with my Buff Orps. Feel free to reply in the new thread or here.

    Once again, thank you so much for the feedback!
     
  7. hveggeberg

    hveggeberg Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 29, 2016
    Pilot, Virginia
    Here is a picture of the tag from the feed I am giving my Buff Orpingtons. This is the only chicken feed my local mill has in pellets. They have a Starter/Grower feed in crumble, but my chickens wasted so much of the crumble that I switched to pellets. This feed is half the price of what I would pay at Tractor Supply.

    I know it says "Laying Mash," but is this feed OK for producing meat birds, or should I be looking for something else?

    Also, what about grit? I just read that I need to give my chickens free access to grit. I haven't done this yet, but I will now. Could that be a contributing factor into why my chickens are not gaining weight quickly enough? My birds have just recently begun to be free-range. If they are free-range, do I even need grit?

    Once again...thank you.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  8. trailrider330

    trailrider330 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Below is a chart for what type of feed is recommended, at what age, and for what type of bird. It is recommended that birds not be fed layer feed until they are actually laying. This is due to the fact that Layer feed contains less protein (usually around 16%) but also added calcium for shell formation. Less protein could certainly be a factor, along with the fact that Orps just don't grow as fast as Rangers, but it looks as though your layer mash actually has 20% protein, rather than 16%, so that doesn't concern me so much. But, I would be concerned about the excess calcium they are getting right now. The added calcium, if most birds are not currently laying, can damage internal organs.

    From what I have read, it is generally best to butcher dual purpose breeds around 16 weeks, though keep in mind they still are not going to be as large as an 8 week old meat bird. But, at that point, it doesn't really pay to continue feeding them because you aren't going to see a lot of continued growth. However, there are some that prefer to butcher dual purpose earlier to avoid meat that is too tough, or a little later to try and get a little added growth.

    Our dual purpose birds tend to dress out around 3-4 pounds, while our 8 week old meat birds tend to dress out around 5-6 pounds, if you want a size comparison.

    Our birds free-range, but I prefer to have grit available for them. I figure they will use if they need to, and they do.

    Good luck!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. trailrider330

    trailrider330 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last edited: Jan 30, 2016
  10. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've butchered barred rock, marans, and easter egger/marans cross cockerels, generally around 12-13 weeks. All except one runt have been between 3 and 3.5 pounds by that age, after butchering. I got eggs or chicks of all these birds locally. I'm not sure where they got the birds, but you could probably do better than these numbers if you get birds from people who are actually breeding for meat. If I were you and wanted to breed my own meat birds, I would buy birds from a breeder who is breeding for meat. I hear there are some nice white Rocks for this purpose... maybe someone else can comment further.

    As for the feed, I agree that the protein level looks ok, but layer feed typically contains high levels of calcium, and that will damage the kidneys of young birds or birds that aren't laying. You mention that other food is available, but only in a crumble, which they waste. You might consider a feeder like this one:

    http://www.instructables.com/id/PVC-Chicken-Feeder/

    In my experience, there has been *no* waste at all, using this type of feeder. I will caution you though that if you have birds with very large combs that stand straight up, those birds may not be able to get their heads in. This type of feeder works perfectly for all of my hens, but I have a marans rooster with a huge comb who can't get his head in these. So just make sure that your biggest-combed birds can get their heads in, if you do try this type of feeder.
     

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