I’ll live vicariously through your posts I’m afraid, so thank you for sharing your experiences. I suppose you could argue they would grow slower without the additional protein but I didn’t find that to be the case. Turkeys are amazingly stupid — from the newly hatched poults who can starve to death while trampling in their feed because they haven’t learned where to find it, to the hens who lay their eggs standing up. ? Contrary to popular belief, Cornish Cross birds are a hybrid breed– not GMO (there’s a big difference). (Otherwise you’ll end up with leg issues.). We were at the 9-10 week mark when we butchered ours, and we ended up with 5-6 lb birds (after processing). Birds are placed into plastic crates or aluminium modules designed for good ventilatio… You will need a coop for your chickens, just like for your laying hens. This is a breakdown of what it cost me to raise these meat chickens. If you didn’t grow up learning the ropes of raising chickens for meat and eggs from a parent or grandparent who normalized it for you by giving you chores that built your skills and confidence over time . Perhaps I shouldn’t admit this but my layers are in with my meat birds are in with the turkeys and peacocks and ducks and even pigs when we have them. We feed corn chop with access to bugs, grass and fermented wheat seeds. We process at 6-1/2 weeks and average 4-1/2 to 5 lb finished product. That’s the reason I started it! We all had gardens, pigs, beef, rabbits & chickens that we raised for food. Also looked up how to clean an process chicken feet. Maybe if I would have approached this during the fall and winter when our temperatures are cooler I’d feel differently. It doesn’t sound like much but it adds up. I froze and canned it. I’ve done the math before and figured out that raising meat chickens saves us personally about 40-50 cents per whole chicken in the end. Save time & money as you build your homestead with my, as we did have a small test-run last year, I couldn’t say the same for the Wyandottes we got at the same time, whole bird in the slow cooker with seasonings for rotisserie-style chicken, Fly Control Strategies for the Chicken Coop. Learn how your comment data is processed. You want more of a dual purpose bird…not. I’m super nervous about processing them ourselves. If stockinettes are put on carcasses they must be clean. Thanks for all the details, Jill! LOL. Raising meat chickens is a quick and easy way to put quality meat into your freezer. 99.6% of meat chickens (broilers) … They aren’t a heritage bird. Share Pin Tweet Email Just before we moved, we processed our a brood of meat chickens, and have 50 delicious frozen meat chickens (broilers) in our freezer, waiting for us to use. The formula contains a higher protein (21 to 22% minimum protein) content than chick starter, all-flock, or layer feed. We have used a food saver vacuum; however, we had issues with it sealing all the way this year. Feed consumption and body weight. It has been almost 60 years but, I’ll never forget the day my aunt decided God brought those chickens back to life and they were going to stay that way! We are lucky, we get our Cornish X at the local feed store, (we order ahead of time, this year only 50) and we get their feed there too. Isn’t it fun how we can all have our own preferences and opinions? One thing I learned from my mother in law, is to rinse them in a mild plain soap solution and use a clean brush to scrub them in and out after picking and then rinse twice. Wow – I am so impressed by what you have accomplished! So as much as I love heirloom things, this time practicality/economics wins for me…, We didn’t experience any of the horror stories that seem to float around about Cornishes, although we did have two who seemed to have leg issues the last week. They are good birds but I have to admit they disgust me a bit…. Great advice!! Growing your own food is hard, dirty, frustrating, all-consuming, and somehow strangely addictive. I agree: growing your own food is totally addicting! I don’t want to keep buying from a hatchery all the time. Allowing them to breed will not produce the same quality offspring. Can you imagined if I blogged about politics? Some of you may remember going to “Grandma’s House” and having a tasty chicken dinner. 24.05.17. We didn’t lose a single meat chick during shipping (unfortunately I couldn’t say the same for the Wyandottes we got at the same time, but I don’t think that was the hatchery’s fault) and they were extremely hardy during their first few weeks in the brooder. That’s why we continue to do it year after year, and that’s why I don’t think I’ll ever stop. As long as no predators wanting a chicken dinner, they are pretty low impact to add to the homestead farm operation! It takes about 8-12 weeks to raise a meat chicken to maturity, while it takes about 6 months to raise a laying chicken to maturity (when they start laying eggs). My friend raises Cornish Rocks and they have figured out the shelter problem by making more of a lean-to situation. Basically one entire wall of the “shed” they built is a plywood “door” on hinges at the top that props up for additional shade. The Rhodes family is the real deal, and if you want to know everything about chicken, this course is for you. We have happy birds, and they get a lot of loving care and attention during their short stay. She said the extra calcium in that would help with the leg issues. This is great and so neat you found a breed that works for y’all. We just got started with chickens in June and have over 150 already! My gut instinct is that Cornish cross are just kind of sad. We fed a big scoop in the morning and a big scoop in the evening. Depending on the size of the chicken and the size of your crew, a roasted chicken will stretch 1-3 meals, plus you’ll have beautiful bones for homemade chicken stock afterwards. They have no clue about what happens before the grocery store; and consequently, they have no idea where that food came from on the shelves. Messy is RIGHT!!!!! Mom, my aunt and grandmother would grab one, dip, pick and put into another barrel until they had a about a dozen then they formed an assembly line to clean and place into another cold water barrel. Fresh chicken meat (like butchered that day) is not something anyone wants to eat. Be sure to process before they get too big & to age (or rest) the meat before eating. We free ranged our meat birds with all the other chickens. Because of this, it is usually best to provide unlimited feed to them for the first 1-2 weeks, and after that only provide feed during the day. To get your hybrid meat chickens up to butcher weight quickly, you’ll want to feed them a good quality meat producer feed. This has been my experience. (Meat chickens are often referred to as broilers). Open free range wasn’t possible because the hawks and vulchers arrived, they love birds under 4 lbs. My most favorite memory of that time was the one day that my brother (he was about 6 or 7) was helping me wring their necks. But this is the first time we’ve had a larger bunch, so I’m calling it our first “official” year. Raising Meat in Batches. I am impressed! Heritage chickens: Old breeds such as Buckeye, Delaware, New Hampshire and Barred Plymouth Rocks have not been bred for meat-producing characteristics since the 1950s, and as a result are slower growing than varieties that have been bred explicitly for increased feed conversion efficiency. This way they can often be in more temporary shelters such as hoop houses or tarps. Cornish Cross. Coops for meat birds are often larger so that you can raise 50, 100, or more birds at a time. We were trying so hard not to laugh. It doesn’t seem to bother anyone. So here ya go. We use the feed store’s starter mash and at about 3 weeks start #1 grit and move them to broiler pellet. Every year, the 3 women and 2 oldest kids (myself & brother) would spend a couple days butchering chickens. Then slid a plexiglass door shut when all were in. WOW! This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Myself and brother would go into the pen and grab a chicken and wring its neck and toss it into a 50 gallon barrel. We also soaked them in cold water, changing it every twenty minutes, while we did this. Yeesh.). . This is the most popular breed of meat chicken. Sometimes eating home grown meat chickens is like eating rubberbands. 1. Feed chicks this up until 6 weeks. I wouldn’t like them if I was looking for a new pet, but they are meat animals. Most people feel uncertain the first time they raise meat chickens. The extra calcium isn’t harmful to a bird that lives such a short time. There are other larger hatcheries out there as well (Murray McMurray is another common one), although if you are looking at getting heritage meat breeds, you may need to find a specialty hatchery or order from a smaller supplier. I haven’t had any problems. finishing and butchering of the meat chickens. We lived near my aunt and uncle and grandmother. Like many have said, their way of living (eat/poop, rarely move or forage) seemed unnatural to me, and considering the results, I’ll stick with dual purpose breeds. High elevation kills – that’s crazy. If you’re on the fence about raising them, just jump in and go for it! MUCH. Since that’s a whole ‘nother process, I have a separate post with pics for you on how to butcher a chicken over here. We order in straight run and then process all the males at about 4 months. There are a number of factors that influence voluntary feed intake. Chickens are neat and put themselves to bed. I am pretty nervous about butchering them myself though. Homesteading | Self Sufficient Living | Living off the Land, 36 Comments | Jill Winger | Last Updated: May 1, 2020. I fed the pigs different food but everyone eats everyone else’s food anyway. Feed was given at 6 am and taken away at 6pm in a hanging feeder so laying down to eat was not an option. I like the idea of hatching my own eggs and having the whole process on land. There are two important questions you should ask yourself before starting a small flock of meat chickens: I found normal chicken for approximately 0.98 – $1.19 per pound. 1. ), and when it’s all done we can drive the tractor right in, scoop out the goods for the compost heap (mountain, lol) then pressure wash it all out. Thanks! These were all free range and came from the hens on the farm. Finishing the Meat Birds Anna and I right before we were about to start: All along we thought we would be sending the meat chickens out for butchering. Maybe we’ll have something else figured out for the next batch. Yikes! It feels good to master a new skill. Anyway, they did absolutely fine. The very best part… Roasted homegrown chicken is one of my favorite simple meals. Everyone eats everyone’s food. Anyway, I would really love to figure out a sustainable chicken opporation were the chickens hatch their own eggs and grow their own chicks and we still have eggs and meat. They were friendly enough and the meat output was amazing! WANTED YOU TO KNOW I SKINNED ALL 50 BIRDS WITH FEATHERS (NO PICKING) IN 3 HOURS. It feels good to be a producer instead of just a consumer. If you have any questions about how to raise them yourself as meat birds in your own back yard, this guide will certainly answer any questions you may have about the breed. We found putting the feed in the far end of their run with their water at the other end, gets them moving more. Choosing the best meat chicken breeds depends on what you’re looking to achieve. Chicken raising is my favorite job. We started with 25 Cornish Cross meat chicks this winter and we’ll likely get another 20-25 later in the year. They also put a window in the back of the “shed” that can be closed or open to create a cross breeze in really hot weather. We had a 50 gallon barrel over a fire with water and lots of buckets. Depending on the size of the chicken and the size of your crew, a roasted chicken will stretch 1-3 meals, plus you’ll have beautiful bones for homemade chicken stock afterwards. MOST people in the US today believe that food comes from the grocery store. I have no earthly idea. They very rarely have leg issues, and love eating the fresh-picked grass give to them when they run out of their own in their enclosure. They just have a fence enclosing them which can be stepped over, so less protection from animals, but they are close to the house and there are dogs and people around. When we’ve butchered chickens it’s always been Cornish crosses. I keep Bresse but the blue tint in the bones can put some people off. Slower-growing heritage breeds will take longer than that (sometimes twice as long). Good article. The Lady we purchased them from had us feed them layer mash on their second bag of feed. These meat chickens are bred for their fast-growing abilities. Mechanical devices for harvesting meat chickens have been invented, however results are variable and most Australian meat chickens are still caught by hand. I currently have 13 of them (5 weeks old). SO. (And I wanted to write everything down so I don’t forget… You wouldn’t believe how often I Google my own blog to remember something.) I’m the ultimate lazy to be honest. Getting finished meat chickens from the farm to the factory is a delicate business. See the complete list of chicken breeds for meat here. Had 6to7pound birds in 8 weeks, spread a tarp on garage floor…killed and butchered for freezer, wrapped all pieces parts in the tarp carried to city dump and smiled. Very healthy. I’m chicken free right right and missing that homegrown goodness. Love it. Transport of meat. 2. The “shed” encloses completely when the door is shut (it’s maybe 7 ft high), so the birds are protected from the weather and animals at night. Nutrient requirements of meat chickens (broilers) are outlined below. Cornish X. There were 8 runs that we moveed so the birds were always on clean grass. I haven’t come up with a proper balanced ration yet (proper protein content is important for fast-growing meat birds), so we just opted to purchase feed this time around. The pigs, goats, chickens, and meat birds all together. My birds went outside into a paddock during the day and got the feed when they came in for the night. The object must be to maintain the meat temperature at or near 0°C. Just a note about the cornish crosses, they do not survive at high altitudes. Spoiler alert: We used unmedicated meat bird starter/grower from the feed store… So if you were hoping for a super-awesome DIY Meat Bird Feed Recipe like the one I have for layers, I’m sorry to disappoint. If people are looking for a heritage bird, good options are Orpington, Rhode Island Red, barred rock, or Delaware. Approximate Weight: 12 lbs; Processing Time: 4-6 weeks; Cornish Cross chickens are some of the most popular meat birds you can raise, largely because they are bred for commercial meat production. All 38 unique nutrients meat birds need each day at the proper levels are included in the bag, no need to supplement. We used a light bulb to come on before dark to intince them to go up the plank into house. ? Plus you can’t beat the taste. This is our first year for meat birds…we are total newbies. Raising table birds, that is chickens for meat rather than laying eggs is fairly similar when the table birds are the cockerels from a dual-breed hatching or a traditional slow-growing breed. In this post, we are going to learn about raising Cornish Cross chickens for meat production.I can’t tell you that they are my favorite kind of chicken and you’ll see why in a minute, but if you are looking for information about raising Cornish Cross chickens, which are the most common breed of meat chickens, then this post is for you. Delay means stress and weight loss. Later I switched to Buff Orpingtons because it was a dual breed that worked and the meat reminds me what chicken tasted like growing up. So my answer? I’ve also got a similar post about what we learned the first time we raised meat chickens. 2years ago I discovered Hilland natural animal feeds. I haven’t raised chickens for meat yet. We free ranged in 4 x 8 wood framed runs and then had a mobile house attached. I haven’t heard the elevation problem before, but my first experiment with Cornish Crosses resulted in 11 of 12 birds dying of heart attacks here at 7000 feet! We figured out my brother wasn’t really breaking their necks but rather stunning them by swinging them around in a big circle! We also put vitamins and electrolytes in their water clear up to processing time. If you’re looking for even more information, my friend, Justin Rhodes, has created the definitive course when it comes to doing chickens the natural way– packed full of actionable information, tutorials, and more! Time. I notice you have a lot of blood water in the bag– if you scrub and rinse, you have no chickeny smells or blood in your freezer bag. (And I totally google my own blog All. Fed everyone together. It was a pain, though, as most of the meat birds couldn’t figure out how to go in/out of the door, and we had to move each one individually. This meant their indoor pen would get nasty extremely fast… We had to strip it every other day, lest it get so wet and stinky it was unbearable. That’s how I’d sum up raising meat chickens. Selective breeding for raising meat chickens has produced birds that reach five pounds within 8 to 10 weeks, with breast meat up to 2-inches thick. During the last few weeks when the weather warmed up a bit, we would put them outside into the adjoining pen to get fresh air (and also keep them from destroying their inside pen as quickly). Our homesteading beginning animal of choice was the goat. It can be tricky to be sure you don’t end up with meat that is appetizing. It feels good to set a goal, and see it through to the end. A plain roasted homegrown bird is just to die for. They had the option to forage/peck around their chicken run, and they did that a little. I have helped raised meat chickens before but I was not the primary care taker and I know there will be a slight learning curve to it! Because most of us are now at least one generation removed from ancestors who raised their own livestock for meat.. These birds grow rapidly, reaching about twelve pounds in just six weeks. The feeder would run out in between feedings, which is a good thing considering free-choice feeding for meat birds can cause growth issues. So that’s what I am doing next, hopefully it will work according to plan. It feels good to master a new skill. I’ve been researching for a while and came up with a plan that I think will work. It will be a fun learning process! I know that can happen and isn’t much of a concern, but I had two that laid around so much that not only did they rub the feathers off of their chest, but they actually caused sores. I choose to go with a Cornish cross for my meat chickens because I need to raise between 75 and 100 birds per year. White Leghorn (And Brown) The variant of Brown Leghorn chickens, White Leghorn is one of the best egg layers. Jill l raised 50 Cornish in an enclosed wire bottom cage IN MY GARAGE (LIVE IN A SUBDIVISON IN CITY)..Built shelf under the cage placed sheet of black plastic on shelf caught droppings (Lots), let dry overnight spread on lawn (got yard of month), after l finished fertilizing would wrap plastic put in garbage bag…let city haul it off with weekly trash. Raising broiler chickens can put meat on your table quicker and with less effort than raising any other livestock. We ordered chicks from Meyer Hatchery this year. We raised Cornish Cross. It was way more work intensive, and the end product failed at times because of it. 8-12 week old mature meat chickens will have the freshest tasting meat, tender & juicy. From that point on, we kept the meat birds in a separate brooder, and then transferred them into a bigger pen a few weeks later. Our last batch were 6 to 7 pounds. That puts us at about one chicken per week for meals and I feel like that’s plenty, at least for us. With modern fast-growing breeds maturing in less than half the time of traditional, the feeding regime is quite different. Add to Favorites . Especially beef. Raising chickens for meat on pastureland provides entertainment and a superior dining experience to flavorless supermarket fowl. I’ve raised so many breeds of chickens, both meat and egg, in the past. Meat should hang on rails, not on the floor. We’ve butchered a few dual purpose chickens before (probably too late) that were problem chickens and found the meat was rubbery and that there wasn’t much of it. Meat chickens. Medicated feed prevents chicks from getting coccidiosis. and chicken taste was more intense in the JA757 genotype, and the meat was more gray and less yellow compared with the T851 genotype. Keeping Chickens for Meat, Table Birds Best Chicken Breeds Whether growing on your male chicks or getting specialist meat breeds keeping chickens for meat at home is becoming increasingly popular. No leg problems or extra fat that way. I enjoyed our cornich X’s. I hope it’s a great experience for you Laura! Art– you are plain amazing! But I’m in the early stages of building a farmhouse out in the country, so I’ve been doing my research. (We have tons of homegrown beef and pork to eat, too. Each variety gets their own specific formula of feed for maximum health. The. The disadvantage is the time frame from chick to processing so I try to do this over the summer when the bug population is the greatest to help detour feed expense. I will say they will eat eggs if they figure out they can. A broiler chicken should be fed high protein complete feed. LOL! We did 300 this year, and loved it. We ordered Jumbo Cornish X Rock from Murray McMurray, and built a chicken tractor a la Joel Salatin. At present, there is limited knowledge about the possible utilization of the fat fraction derived from Hermetia illucens (HI) larvae processing. We will do them again next year and aldo try the red rangers to see the difference. We raised the Cornish cross twice and finally I said to my husband I can’t raise this breed again. Grab the full-color cover crop PDF here (it includes my weekly Homestead Toolbox Newsletter, which gets rave reviews from busy homesteaders!)-->. At least that’s the vision, we’ll see how the reality goes! Your posts help make it feel a little less intimidating! We raise laying hens year-round, and once a year we raise a batch of meat chickens, specifically designed to provide us with chicken meat for the year. From what age? And if you’re leery of the emotional aspect of killing an animal you’ve raised, here are my thoughts on that. Vehicles for transporting meat and carcasses should be considered as an extension of the refrigerated storage. Interesting– so do you find the Buffs have good meat yields? The chicken meat industry has been growing consistently in Australia since the 1960s. But I certainly understand the advantages and it’s worlds better than grocery store chicken. Otherwise genotype and finishing feeding did not affect any taste characteristics. Cover crops are an incredibly underutilized, very affordable way to fertilize your soil, decrease erosion, and increase organic matter. Here is our list of the fifteen best meat chickens you can raise. I’ve raised the Cornish x for several years. You have the option to feed them medicated or non-medicated feed. Meat should be chilled to 0°C before loading. Meat Chickens – Best Breeds, Care and Troubleshooting Tips. BEEF.). 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