Raising Meat in Batches. Every year, the 3 women and 2 oldest kids (myself & brother) would spend a couple days butchering chickens. From what age? They did eat the layer feed. 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 . I enjoyed our cornich X’s. Raising meat chickens is a quick and easy way to put quality meat into your freezer. 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. 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. 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. Mechanical devices for harvesting meat chickens have been invented, however results are variable and most Australian meat chickens are still caught by hand. Anyway, they did absolutely fine. (We have tons of homegrown beef and pork to eat, too. 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). 8-12 week old mature meat chickens will have the freshest tasting meat, tender & juicy. After all, the best way to replenish your stock of meat chickens is naturally. I was so excited to read this by you because we are looking at getting some meat chickens this year. Log in, few near drownings in some wicked rainstorms in Arizona. There are dual purpose birds that meet both needs…in general, for meatbirds to reach maturity and produce eggs…they are so large and the hips cannot support the body….it’s a slippery slope. But I’m in the early stages of building a farmhouse out in the country, so I’ve been doing my research. 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. That has always been my concern with dual purpose breeds. My birds went outside into a paddock during the day and got the feed when they came in for the night. We raised the Cornish cross twice and finally I said to my husband I can’t raise this breed again. We were at the 9-10 week mark when we butchered ours, and we ended up with 5-6 lb birds (after processing). Coops for meat birds are often larger so that you can raise 50, 100, or more birds at a time. We did 300 this year, and loved it. They don’t forage or move like regular chickens and definitely get a lot of health problems. Wow – I am so impressed by what you have accomplished! I did NOT account for the cost of the coop, run and other supplies because I … Just like with egg layers, a different result comes with different meat chicken breeds. We fed a big scoop in the morning and a big scoop in the evening. Thanks for the memories! She said the extra calcium in that would help with the leg issues. The Lady we purchased them from had us feed them layer mash on their second bag of feed. Dual-purpose chickens, those yielding both eggs and meat, are the most popular. The feeder would run out in between feedings, which is a good thing considering free-choice feeding for meat birds can cause growth issues. Interesting– so do you find the Buffs have good meat yields? So here ya go. Choosing the best meat chicken breeds depends on what you’re looking to achieve. Cornish Cross birds are generally ready to butcher between 8-10 weeks of age. To keep track of my own recipes, ha.) (Otherwise you’ll end up with leg issues.). 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. 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. I’ve raised the Cornish x for several years. I’ll live vicariously through your posts I’m afraid, so thank you for sharing your experiences. I currently have 13 of them (5 weeks old). Here is our list of the fifteen best meat chickens you can raise. Slower-growing heritage breeds will take longer than that (sometimes twice as long). 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. I’m completely and utterly addicted. I will say they will eat eggs if they figure out they can. Transport of meat. 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. It feels good to be a producer instead of just a consumer. Here I go, getting all controversial again…. I’ve been researching for a while and came up with a plan that I think will work. Yeesh.). This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. We have 23 goats browsing our 10 acres to helps us clear the underbrush and decrease the fire danger here in NorCal. We could wave good bye when we dropped them off and come back to retrieve the perfectly packaged chicken ready for our freezer. Has The last round of Cornish crosses we harvested had some places on their stomachs where the feathers had rubbed off. Our barn is set up for easy cleanup, so we no longer use chicken tractors or try to get them out on “pasture”. Most catching is done at night when the birds are quieter, and this also gets them to the processor early in the morning with less delay before slaughter. Contrary to popular belief, Cornish Cross birds are a hybrid breed– not GMO (there’s a big difference). 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. They are a disaster. 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. In 9 was they ranged from 9 to 11 lbs. Costs to Raising Meat Chickens. They act more chicken like though. You just really can’t beat the growth that you see in such a short period of time. We just got our first flock of laying hens last Fall, but I would really like to try some meat birds. I would much prefer a faster growing bird, but they have heart attacks at 8000′ elevation. High elevation kills – that’s crazy. See the complete list of chicken breeds for meat here. I own a farm in ME. For meat chickens it is important to start them off with a meat starter, which contains a very high 20-24% of protein. 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. They had the option to forage/peck around their chicken run, and they did that a little. Delay means stress and weight loss. 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. 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. After trying both Red Rangers (a heritage variety) and Cornish Cross meat birds during our trial run last year, we decided to go 100% with Cornishes this round. We do not mix the broilers in pens with the layers or turkeys, again learned from experience. I suppose you could argue they would grow slower without the additional protein but I didn’t find that to be the case. Our last batch were 6 to 7 pounds. Each variety gets their own specific formula of feed for maximum health. It was way more work intensive, and the end product failed at times because of it. The big stall they live in gets new thick layers of straw and hay every few days (they are messy! 2. We free ranged our meat birds with all the other chickens. Chicken raising is my favorite job. Open free range wasn’t possible because the hawks and vulchers arrived, they love birds under 4 lbs. 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! (And I totally google my own blog All. Meat should hang on rails, not on the floor. 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. We also put vitamins and electrolytes in their water clear up to processing time. Cornish X. Art– you are plain amazing! I fed the starter for 4weeks then mixed in the layer after that. 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