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Old 11-16-2019, 11:10 PM
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Default Growing Meat Chickens More Efficiently



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Hello all.

Growing up, we used to grow some chickens for the table/ 4H, And Iíve always preferred home grown chicken since. I donít think I have to explain why to this group. Since moving out of my parentís home and going to college/living in the dorm, I have really missed the homegrown meat, and have been relishing the day when I eventually get to grow my own again. It looks like I may get the chance next year. The one caveat to it is, Iíll have to justify the cost of growing my own over buying my meat at the store to my girlfriend, especially since weíre in college.

Through some ballpark calculations, it cost my family roughly $3/lb of meat to grow our birds. I reached this number like this:

50lbs of food per week, $20 per bag, over 9 weeks, to get 12 birds at ~5 lbs each comes to $180/60lbs = $3/lb.

Our birds were a little smaller than the average 6-8 lbs that breed gets to, but that was because we allowed them to free range with the layer hens for most of their lives. Seems more humane to me, and made happier animals. Iíll continue this in the future.

So $3/lb isnít the most cost effective meat in the world, especially when it takes 9 weeks to get it. So what Iím looking for is a way to bring that cost/benefit ratio down a little.

What does everyone here do to grow meat chickens, and if you donít mind the prying, what is the cost per pound of the finished product?

Ideas?
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Old 11-16-2019, 11:44 PM
Nomad, 2nd Nomad, 2nd is offline
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Look into sprouting, and black soldier fly's.
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Old 11-17-2019, 04:05 AM
fistfulladirt fistfulladirt is offline
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Some of my relatives used to grind their own feed and mix it with the vegetable oil and grease they’d get for free from local restaurants. Not sure if you can feed any cheaper than that and not put weight on the birds quickly.
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Old 11-17-2019, 06:19 AM
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I am growing a batch right now, inside due to weather. I will have to check cost. $3/lb seems high. Higher than what I have done in the past anyways and I have included cost if chicks and electricity for heat lamp. The last time I crunched numbers it was about $2/pound.

In the last few years the feed conversion rate has improved. I started with my first meat birds about 20 years ago. I feed a higher protein ration than for my egg layers. I do not use a finisher feed as it just adds fat due to a large amount of corn. I think that helps with the cost. I figure roughly two pounds feed per one pound gain. Check around for feed cost.

If your birds are outside they can have garden waste thrown to them. Make sure they can get grit.
The taste and texture if the meat is so much better, you just need to raise a few to convince your gf.
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Old 11-17-2019, 06:43 AM
fistfulladirt fistfulladirt is offline
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Of course, it does come down to taste. My Cornish rocks were fed a commercial feed but my wife and kids did not care so much for the somewhat gamey taste. Well, they’re used to store-bought anyway and usually won’t eat anything farm raised.
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:40 AM
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Used to be when you bought 100 lbs of feed, you'd get 25 chicks FREE. Don't know if feed stores still use this method of advertising, but what started out being "just a few chickens" for Mom, quickly escalated to over 100+. So said, my mother ended up killing chickens for others, lol. This was in Kansas.
You might be able to keep the cost down if you look for freebies. Many move and have to get rid of chickens, but otherwise the upkeep can be horrendous as I recall. That might not be the case in Montana, but here in OK we had a new law passed that singled out raising a few for eggs in specific zip codes. Free range or not, I'd think you'd have supply SOME feed for them...don't you?
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Old 11-17-2019, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fistfulladirt View Post
Of course, it does come down to taste. My Cornish rocks were fed a commercial feed but my wife and kids did not care so much for the somewhat gamey taste. Well, theyíre used to store-bought anyway and usually wonít eat anything farm raised.
We love cornish/rock chickens for butchering. We used to raise 25 for the freezer every year. Makes the best chicken & dumplings.
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:44 PM
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Quote:
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Of course, it does come down to taste. My Cornish rocks were fed a commercial feed but my wife and kids did not care so much for the somewhat gamey taste. Well, theyíre used to store-bought anyway and usually wonít eat anything farm raised.
We fed ours the grower feed from the local feed store. I donít remember the brand, but it was different from the stuff we feed the layers.

The home raised birds are definitely different than the commercial ones on the fork. Somewhat less soft, but more tender, if that makes sense. A friend of ours tried it once at our house and commented that it was chewy. No, it wasnít chewy, it just was composed of more actual meat than fat between the muscle strands. Itís leaner.

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We love cornish/rock chickens for butchering. We used to raise 25 for the freezer every year. Makes the best chicken & dumplings.
Those are what we grew. Iíd like to get the Cornish hens and White Rock roosters and hatch my own. I know they wouldnít be the same, but they would still be fun to experiment with.
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Old 11-18-2019, 04:13 AM
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Somehow the commercial birds are a four way cross, both parents are hybrid or something like that. The Cobb line is one that was done commercially. Lots and of info out there about people who have tried to hatch their own.
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Old 11-18-2019, 09:02 AM
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The chickens in the stores are crossbreds for a reason. Breeding cornish cross leads to weak legs. Some will not be able to ambulate. Some will be fine but remember that when you breed hybrids the offspring will not all look like the parents. 20 years ago, when I raised chickens to sell at the swap meet, I bought heavy roosters from Murray McMurray (heavy all male). the local feed mill made a broiler feed for me. The south east asians liked the dark chickens best. there was a dark cornish cross developed by college in California. It was a three way cross. I remember one was a dark cornish, but I don't remember the other two. Just remember that white chickens were bred for food production as the pin feathers were less visible on the caurcus.
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Old 11-18-2019, 09:56 AM
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As long as nothing is put on your lawn [pesticides, etc] you can feed the grass clippings to them.

They like watermelon, cantalope, etc. rinds. Some leftovers.
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Old 11-18-2019, 07:10 PM
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I have been looking into sprouting forage for my chickens. Reading lots of conflicting information but still may give it a try. Some say it really cuts down on feed costs.
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Old 11-18-2019, 07:22 PM
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I was reading about this on backyardchickens.com. Some say that feeding fermented feed and free-ranging really keeps down the cost of feed. I did fermenting feed for my laying hens, it actually did keep down the cost of food as they didn't eat as much. I have now stopped, cuz it is too darn cold and the food freezes in their bowl. They are going thru almost twice the food now
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Old 11-18-2019, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kokosmom2 View Post
I was reading about this on backyardchickens.com. Some say that feeding fermented feed and free-ranging really keeps down the cost of feed. I did fermenting feed for my laying hens, it actually did keep down the cost of food as they didn't eat as much. I have now stopped, cuz it is too darn cold and the food freezes in their bowl. They are going thru almost twice the food now

I know I like fermented corn, especially with coke.

I had never heard of that before. Do you just toss a bunch of corn in a bucket of water and yeast? Does the fermentation give a nutritional benefit?
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Old 11-19-2019, 07:52 AM
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I can't really speak to bringing down the price of raising chickens to less than supermarket birds...
You gotta wonder, though... Just how unhealthy eating those fast raised birds are for us...

When my birds are eating weeds and produce from my organic garden... That's got to be better...
Recently, they've been getting lamb'squarter seed, spiny cucumber, winter squash, watermelon, and even sweet corn that got mature before getting picked...
Anything they don't eat... They keep stirred up and turned into compost... For the vegetable garden... Yesterday, I picked off all the frozen tomatoes and tossed those to them...

So... Those chickens are more flavorful... Much better tasting than those bland things from the supermarket...
Because they actually get some exercise... They develope some muscle tone... So I usually toss them in the pressure cooker... Add some vegetables after the bird is cooked... Single pot meal...
Hard to have a garden without chickens... Hard to have chickens without a garden...

Glad that you are figuring out how to get back to the land... Even while in college... Whether you can convince the girlfriend or not... Just go ahead and raise some birds... Usually they come around once they get to see the process from beginning to end.... And... If she refuses to eat the pet birds? Might be an indication of the need to find somebody else...
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Old 11-19-2019, 09:02 AM
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Are you intending to use GMO feed?
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Old 11-19-2019, 12:29 PM
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Are you intending to use GMO feed?
Nope. Bar-Ale grower feed is typically what we use
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Old 11-21-2019, 07:42 AM
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I am just finishing up processing 25 cornish x today. I will give you my numbers shortly.
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Old 11-21-2019, 07:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Florida Jean View Post
As long as nothing is put on your lawn [pesticides, etc] you can feed the grass clippings to them.

They like watermelon, cantalope, etc. rinds. Some leftovers.

A mower bag of grass clippings a day, when it can be harvested, makes eggs golden and chickens happy.
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Old 11-23-2019, 06:56 PM
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Never bothered to put the pencil to paper.

Just a WAG, maybe a buck per bird.
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