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#16 2017-08-22 20:24:43

Sunfeathers
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From: Vancouver Island, North
Registered: 2014-05-15
Posts: 1158

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

Do you let them range with other types of chicken? So far, my other free range hens are looking at them like they could be tasty. I'm not sure I would trust them not to be bullies.

Also, their skin seems to split really easily. One was cut by another's nail and the skin just opened right up. The roosters are already acting like little roosters and, it's only week three.

Last edited by Sunfeathers (2017-08-23 00:40:15)

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#17 2017-08-22 23:25:37

uno
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From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 5369
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Re: Decided to try meat chickens

I find that other birds will pick on them - depending on your other birds. There is a wide variety of temperaments in chickens. some still being quite close to their evil velociraptor roots. Production layers  can be very intense, driven, aggressive, type A personality birds. And they peck holes in those big, dumb, slow, target like meat birds. It never worked for me. I lost meaties to attack.

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#18 2017-08-23 10:18:45

countrychicken
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From: mayfair, sk
Registered: 2014-01-21
Posts: 1007

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

yea, mine free range w/everything, geese, ducks, turkeys, guinea's wyandottes, banty's ..... the whole menagerie

but my yard is quite big and has many sections, they gather in cliques and a lot roam in packs. no probs w/aggression from crowding. tho a few 'lone rangers' that I'm sure would be picked on if they couldn't be off bye themselves

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#19 2017-09-01 20:14:23

Sunfeathers
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From: Vancouver Island, North
Registered: 2014-05-15
Posts: 1158

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

Yes, my barnyard is more and more like that too. We have fewer predators around now, maybe because of the geese? Not sure, it could be a coincidence but I have a lot more free ranging birds now. I'd really like to just turn out the meat chicks with everyone else but I am being thoughtful of hubby who can't get used to the idea we are going to butcher our chickens so I'd like to pen them away from him, mostly.

I'm almost ready to turn them out. I still have a heat lamp on at night but I don't think they really need it now. They are 4 weeks and it's very warm here. I'm worried they are going to pile up and smother each other if I turn the lights out. They are so big and clumsy.

It seems they might benefit from night-time darkness? I couldn't find anything in google about how this affects their growth. Does everyone here keep a light on for their meat birds at night? Do they grow better with a sleeping period or, from having access to feed 24/7?

Last edited by Sunfeathers (2017-09-01 20:17:53)

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#20 2017-09-02 00:59:19

Robbie
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From: Blackstock, Ontario
Registered: 2012-08-29
Posts: 1612

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

Lights out for my chicks as soon as they are old enough not to need the heat lamp. There doesn't seem to be a problem just letting it get dark naturally. What I don't want is for the lights to go out (ie a power failure- we can count on those whenever there's an incubator running or heat lamps) suddenly when they could be in the middle of eating or drinking or anything like that without them knowing what darkness is,  So the young  chicks get some darkness, even for fifteen minutes, while they are being supervised, while the heat lamps are on all other times.

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#21 2017-09-02 14:49:38

Sunfeathers
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From: Vancouver Island, North
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Re: Decided to try meat chickens

:Thankx2:  Robbie.

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#22 2017-11-08 22:24:06

Sunfeathers
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From: Vancouver Island, North
Registered: 2014-05-15
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Re: Decided to try meat chickens

I now have a little extra time to post about the meat bird experiment. All 26 in the freezer, I didn't lose any despite a few close calls. Mainly pecking predatory, cannibals otherwise known as SS egg layers, sheesh! My experience with the abbatoir did not go well and ended up not being able to confirm an appointment :tantrum: Soo I had to butch them by myself = steep learning curve. It went well except after bird 8, I  lost my hand function. As I expected, it then took me a month to finish them. They were huge by then, with the largest being 12lb after cleaning and butterflying. Thankfully, I only had 26. I had to find a plucker after bird eight, too. We all persevered and got through. They are much larger than I wanted but we have large quantities of chicken for family too. So successful experiment?? I'm not sure yet, I'm still paying for it with my hands not working. The intended goal was to not have birds mistreated and we definitely accomplished that.

Here is a 7.8lb roast:
https://s1.postimg.org/1nptd0v2kv/IMG_2987.jpg

If I do this again, I think I will try a different breed. Actually, it's foolish for me to try as I can't do it physically, unfortunately. Darn arthritis! I was thinking if I chose a breed I could free range and butcher just 1 or 2 at a time, it might work better. We'll see next year.

Last edited by Sunfeathers (2017-11-08 22:25:00)

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#23 2017-11-08 22:32:58

susanr
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From: Grenfell, Saskatchewan
Registered: 2010-03-11
Posts: 4491

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

All in all I would consider it a success!  Sorry you have arthritis though - sure slows things down.  Nice size birds - means nice left over meat for another meal =)


Friend to 2 house cats, 3 long-haired mini dachshunds, one outside cat, one guard dog, a few Dorking chickens, several  Isa Brown laying hens, some mutt chickens and 3 mules.  Jobs include gardener and assistant bee keeper.

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#24 2017-11-09 02:03:54

uno
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From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 5369
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Re: Decided to try meat chickens

That is an awesome looking bird!

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#25 2017-11-09 03:18:09

GalaBoys
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From: Alberta
Registered: 2014-01-14
Posts: 2291

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

Looks like a good meal!

I think it is important to note that just because a bird comes from a large farm, doesn't mean it has been mistreated in any way. I know some of these commercial producers (turkey, broiler and egg producers) and they are wonderful, ethical, conscientious farmers. I have zero qualms about buying chicken at the grocery store.

On the other hand, there are many small chicken keepers who neglect and mistreat their birds. I have a very long list of small chicken keepers I would never buy from or recommend to others, whether it is treatment, lack of biosecurity, breeding practices, quality of birds, etc.

Size of operation does not correlate to animal welfare in any way.


Gala Partridge Chanteclers - see us on facebook
Maker of chicken saddles, fan of evidence-based poultry keeping.
Vermilion Fair APA Poultry Show: July 28, 2018 - visit www.vermilionag.ca to enter
2018 St. Paul Critter Market - May 19, 2018 - find our group on facebook

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#26 2017-11-09 11:06:45

killerbunny
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From: Brockville, Ontario
Registered: 2012-07-30
Posts: 3036

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

Looks like a lovely meal to be. I haven't eaten any grocery store meat in a lot of years because of the hygiene practices (or lack of) and things like the Excel farce. The meat tastes so much better from home anyway.


Mixed collection of chickens, trio of Blue Columbian Wyandottes,BSW turkeys.
RIP Lucky the Very Brave splash Wyandotte rooster.
RIP little Muppet the rescue cat.

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#27 2017-11-09 20:28:32

shaneb99
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From: Strathmore
Registered: 2012-08-28
Posts: 1895

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

If I can make a couple of suggestions for next time. First talk to your abattoir and find out when would be a good time for them to do them then back up 10 or 12 weeks and order your chicks for then. Some places will let you book 3, 4 or more months in advance.

If you want to do them yourself again then put some time and effort into an ergonomic setup to minimize the work strain. You said you got a plucker, that's good. I've seen plans online for scalders that use a dunking lever or a pulley so you're not hefting the birds up and down by hand. There are other things you can do to make it easier.  Then rather than trying to butcher 26 at once break it up. You can start doing pullets as fryers at 6 or 7 weeks of age. We do them over the course of 3 or 4 weeks starting with the larger pullets and ending with some of the roosters for roasters. Roosters take longer to fill out anyway.  Depending on your source for chicks and your setup you might also want to stagger your chicks. Buy half then wait a couple weeks and buy the other half. That way they all aren't coming on at the same time.

There are probably lots of other suggestions that people have, those are some that came to mind.

If I was you I would stick with the Cornish type. I think you'll find that the alternative breeds are just as much work and you get less out of them.

Last edited by shaneb99 (2017-11-09 20:31:23)


Blue Buff and Silver Laced Brahmas plus too much other stuff to list.

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#28 2017-11-11 06:20:23

Sunfeathers
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From: Vancouver Island, North
Registered: 2014-05-15
Posts: 1158

Re: Decided to try meat chickens

Thanks, Shane. Yes, there are lots of things to learn for next time. Also, met some nice people who will rent the whole set up for next time. They told me they also have gotten together with friends to share the work at butchering time.

I am proud of accomplishing this. I realize no one here knows my history but I've been struggling physically for a very long time. To have done this felt really good even though it was a bit too much work.

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