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GaryD

Broiler Chickens

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That is a feed conversion ratio of 1.67 to 1. That is over about 2.5 months? I have read fish get 1 to 1 or 1.2 to 1, but over a period of 6 months to get to market size. Is that correct?

I miss the taste of home raised chicken. I think a chicken tractor is in order come spring.

Finn

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Hi,

It's generally accepted that commercial broiler chickens have a feed conversion ratio in the order of 2:1. It's likely to be a bit more for backyard-raised broilers because you generally can't buy the grunty rations that franchise growers use......and you probably wouldn't want to use it even if you could.

We processed the first eight our our current batch of meat birds this morning. They tipped the scales at an average of 2.1kg (4.6lbs) dressed weight each.....at just seven weeks of age.

We mix cracked corn with the broiler grower mash.....it gives the skin a nice yellowish tinge and a unique flavour.

Gary

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Hi,

We processed the 2nd lot of eight chickens this morning.....four cockerels and four females. The lads averaged 3.5kg dressed weight and the females averaged 3.0kg......they would have been 10 weeks old on Monday. We now have eight birds left. They are due to get processed next weekend.

Gary

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Hi,

The final 8 of our meat chickens went into the freezer today. They were all pullets and they had an average dressed weight of 3.2kg.

Notwithstanding the recent (and continuing) big rains, the strawyard performed well. As we cleaned out the night quarters, we dumped the used straw into the yard to keep it less boggy.

Now that all of the chickens have been processed, we'll dig up the straw and put it into the compost bin.....and we'll sprinkle lime on the ground to sweeten it up a bit.

Gary

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Hi Finn,

I hope you're planning to put a brooder in with the chicks......or they'll get chilled and die.

I wouldn't put chicks into a chicken tractor until they had passed their brooding period......and that would be at least six weeks in somewhere like Canada or Northern US.

Gary

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Hi Gary,

They are inside the house in a cardboard box with a light. I have a thermometer with them and they are at 37 degrees and I will lower the temp 3 or 4 degrees a week. I had to hide them in a closet as I found one of my cats licking the screen I have covering the box.

Finn

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Hi,

As we drag our way out of summer, I thought it time that we raise our first batch of broiler chickens for the season.

Given their dependence on warmth for the first few weeks of life, the chicks will enjoy the hot days we've been getting.

These guys will be ready to kick the outhouse door down in about 10 weeks by which time they'll dress out at about 2.5 - 3.0kg. We can begin to eat them from about six weeks but we usually cut them up into pieces which means that we get about three meals (for two people) from each one by growing them out for the extra time.

Gary

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Hi,

Our broiler chicks have settled in nicely and are busily turning expensive broiler rations into poop.

I'm really looking forward to having our own chicken meat in the freezer again.

After we exhausted our stocks from last year, we started to buy chicken from Aldi.....and, although it is organic chicken, it's not the same as our own home-raised chicken meat.

Gary

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Hi,

Our latest batch of broiler chickens is now 16 days old. I wish fish grew as quickly.

This lot have been a breeze (knock on wood) and, with the warmer weather, we're already taking the heat off of them during the day.

In another week, we'll remove the brooder altogether.

Gary

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Hi,

Last weekend, we moved our laying chickens and got their pen ready to grow out our broiler chickens. They'll remain in this pen now until we process them......at 8 - 10 weeks. From this stage onwards, we supplement their ration with cracked corn which imparts a yellowish tinge to their skin and a great taste to their meat.

We've moved our little chicken-house and created a small run for our layers.

Gary

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Hi,

Our broiler chicks are 29 days old today.......and they got their first taste of BSF larvae.

They were a bit tentative at first. Then one chick grabbed one and the all of the others chased it around the pen trying to take it away. After a close examination, they started to eat the larvae........and then it turned into a melee.

Gary

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Hi,

The broiler chickens are 36 days old today.

In a commercial shed, they'd have gone on the truck to the processing plant yesterday but, while most of ours are big enough to eat, we now begin to shovel the alternative food into them (BSF larvae, cracked corn, grass)......to build the large, tasty boning bird that we prefer.

This batch of broilers has been as good as any we've had.......no premature deaths or disease......just nice steady growth.

Gary

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Hi Mark,

We buy our meat bird chicks from a local poultry breeder and dealer. He gets them from a commercial hatchery (he hasn't volunteered the name of the place).

Have you tried one of the large poultry web sites.......or the Yellow Pages under Chick Hatcheries?

Gary

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Hi,

Our broilers are now 58 days old.

If you check the past couple of posts, you'll see that they've aged about 21 days in a week. The explanation is that I've been working out their age based on the last post.

Tonight, I worked back to when we got them on 28th January.......58 days ago.

Anyway, suffice to say they are continuing to grow.

The picture of the single cockerel demonstrates the precocious development of these birds. A utility bird of a similar age would be no where near as developed.

Gary

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Hi,

Letting your broilers free range is not recommended practice if you want them to grow to processing weight in the shortest possible time......but they will taste a lot better.

The chickens always have access to commercial food and clean water, but they spend hours pecking at insects, seeds and grasses.

While the broilers are much bigger and heavier than our laying chickens already, the layers have a psychological head start on them. While working in the shed, I frequently hear a loud squawk from a broiler who has been reminded of who's who in the pecking order.

Gary

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Interesting read...Just ordered 200 Cornish chicks today...Plans are a few weeks of chick starter...then straight oats and whatever else they find in their pen...Like their layer counterparts in the pen next to them...

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Hi Kaduda,

While they are good for layers (supplemented by a bit of scratch and some kitchen scraps), I wouldn't be certain that oats alone will be adequate for meat chickens.......and 200 cornish chickens will clean up everything in a acre.

Meat chickens require a high protein diet and, while ours are free-ranging during the day, they get BSF larvae (40% protein and 35% fat) and, when we lock them up at night, they get unrestricted access to finisher pellets.

Gary

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Hi,

Our broilers are 80 days old today.

We processed four of them this morning.

They averaged 2.5kg with a high end of 2.7kg and a low end of 2.3kg.

We boned the chickens out and packed the meat away in meal portions.

I'll eat the livers and hearts tonight and the carcasses are simmering on the stove to produce stock.

Gary

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Gidday Gary ,I cant believe how clean & meaty the dressed birds look. These micro farm animals will deffinitly be part of our little backyard patch when we move back home in june, congrats on the result.With this bred of bird,did you find much cavity fat when you processed them,or is this a quality that doesnt exist with Brooder Birds?

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Hi Steve,

You get a bit of cavity fat (largely around the vent) but nothing like as much as you'll find in the commercially produced birds. The reason for this is that our birds get to free range and they eat a variety of things.....so the combination of exercise and a different diet produce a bird which looks and tastes different.

The biggest difference will be in the amount of fat that is bound up in the meat itself. The commercially produced broiler will weigh more at all stages of its growth than a free range bird but most of the difference is fat. The flesh on our birds will be firmer than the shed-raised broilers and that's the result of being able to walk around and the fact that they are carrying less fat in the meat.

Gary

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Hi,

We processed another four broilers this morning.

The biggest two yielded a dressed weight of 3.5kg and the other two were 2.9kg......for an average of 3.1kg.

If I compare the weight gain against the feed cost, I'm still slightly ahead at this stage. The real benefit is that I don't have to process the entire batch at the same time.

As I've observed before, large chickens tend to yield more meals:

  • A couple the drumsticks is a large meal for one person.
  • Both thighs are enough for two people.
  • Each breast provides four schnitzels - a meal for two people - and even the tenderloins make enough schnitzel for a meal for a single person.
  • The livers, sauteed in butter and served on toast, make a nice snack for two people or a hearty meal for one. I eat the hearts as well.
  • I trim the carcass and get enough bite-sized pieces of meat to make a single serve of the Vietnamese-style soup that I love - from each chicken.
  • The carcass from each chicken provides the stock for the soup. We boil four carcasses up a time and freeze the stock.

In the past, we've discarded the feet, but we're looking for chicken feet recipes for the eight nice big feet that we've got this time.

If I'd come from the south of Italy, I'd be using the combs and wattles (along with some of the meat) in a pasta dish......and Chinese folk make good use of certain parts of the giblets for various dishes. My grandmother used to split and clean the gizzard and use that in soups too......but Jan is not so keen......yet!

Keeping chickens is fundamental to backyard food production......for those people who are able to do so.

Gary

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