1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

backyard chickens

Post in 'The Green Room' started by BucksCoBernie, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2006
    Messages:
    449
    When you say "slow"birds what breed are you referring to? I do cornish roasters from murray mcmurray and though they grow very quickly with a great feed conversion (did a few males the other day and they dressed out at 5# 11oz at 7 weeks old) they're not a very appealing bird in any other way; they won't range around and scratch for insects or plants but instead lay on their enormous breasts and get filthy with their own droppings. They're actually a lot of work just to keep fairly clean because of this. Their meat while plentiful is nothing to rave about. I have a feed mill down the road that makes a nice quality feed but they're not interested in anything else so the meat kind of reflects this. I read about a breed called "freedom ranger" by one hatchery and "Colored Range"broilers by j. m. hatchery in PA that is supposed to have a nice feed conversion ratio, is hardier, and will range around. Is this what you have?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,479
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    My "slow" cornish cross came from Privett hatchery in New Mexico. They have fast, slow, and then two other choices I think red and white? All cornish cross. The fast or slow is where my error was made. I should have gotten the typical commercial fast variety. I understand that more than one hatchery has this "slow" variety meant to slow down the growth to prevent the common problem of these monsters eating themselves to death, having heart attacks, and broken legs from the rapid growth. I had full intention of getting your experience, a 5 lb bird in less than 8 weeks. Not looking for pets, I wanted production and instead needed to have my neighbor be a chicken sitter while I attended a planned vacation at week 11. My slow birds were exceptionally clean, the scald tank never even got really nasty.
  3. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,265
    Loc:
    south central WI
    I joined the backyard chicken club tonight. A friend of mine is moving from a farmette to new construction/subdivision over towards the Twin Cities.
    So...I now own an assorted group of six hens. One is a Buff Orpington, two Americana, a pair that he said were sussex but don't look like the sussex on the web pictures, and then a white one that I'm just going to call the loud Caucasian--it's white and makes more noise than the rest of them combined.

    They sure are entertaining to watch. The girls were a nervous bunch tonight, but as it grew dark, they herded into their outbuilding and quieted down. I can't wait until morning to let them out and watch their antics during morning coffee.
  4. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12,040
    Loc:
    Standish, ME
    Welcome to the backyard chicken club northwinds.

    Enjoy Chicken TV.

    For entertainment buy a watermelon cut it up in large pieces and give one of them to your girls.
  5. szmaine

    szmaine New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2009
    Messages:
    371
    Loc:
    Mid-Coast Maine
    I love fresh eggs and eat a boatload a year, compared to store bought eggs, the appearance and flavor are far and away better...I won't buy any other.

    BUT, we are not necessisarily free and clear of comtaminants - anyone raising chickens and eggs in the presence of lead contaminated soil, especially near old buildings with lead paint chips should be aware that lead can accumulate in the eggs and meat.

    Article:
    http://www.portlandtribune.com/opinion/story.php?story_id=123801660877902600

    Research article:
    http://jvdi.org/cgi/reprint/15/5/418.pdf

    FYI!
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    44,524
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
  7. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2006
    Messages:
    449
    Just butchered our remaining 14 of the cornish roasters. They were exactly 8 weeks old and dressed out at 6lbs average. Nice and plump, meaty birds but unable and unwilling to forage. change the breed next year
  8. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12,040
    Loc:
    Standish, ME
    What are you planning on getting for a meat bird? The Cornish cross birds are fast bulking up and as a result can't easily get around to forage.

    Some people have succeeded in free ranging them but they also don't feed them free choice or as much as they would like to eat.

    I don't raise meat birds just layers (well some are dual purpose but as meaties they aren't all that good), when they get to the point of not laying well they become soup birds.
  9. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2006
    Messages:
    449
    JM Hatchery in PA has a breed nicknamed "Freedom Rangers" that are a crossbreed for meat. I read about them in an article in Backyard Poultry that discussed the downsides of the cornish cross and alternatives. Apparently, these freedom rangers have a higher feed conversion ratio than your standard breed, but lower than the cornish cross. The author told of how his birds dressed out at 4-5 lbs at 12 weeks and that they "eagerly foraged on their own". He also cites higher weight gains with a higher protein level (his was 17%)

    I put a lot of effort into keeping my cornish crosses clean and giving them ample opportunity to forage and when its come time to enjoy a roasted bird I can't honestly say that they taste any better than a good quality store-bought bird. I have the satisfaction of having raised my own birds for butchering and knowing that they're butchered cleanly and not thrown into a bird crap bath. My kids have the experience of knowing where the meat comes from, what goes into the whole process and having a deeper appreciation - I hope.
    If these freedom rangers will roost rather than wallow in their own excrement, and supplement their diet with the plenty of pickings around our woods, and grow a bit slower allowing their meat to take on some more of the flavor of the foraging then I'll gladly switch over.
  10. SmokeyTheBear

    SmokeyTheBear Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2008
    Messages:
    12,040
    Loc:
    Standish, ME
    Ah yes, JM took over that line from a Canadian Couple.

    You'll find a bit of information about them on www.backyardchickens.com in the meat bird section of their forum.

    Also if you do a bit of searching you'll find out about a rooster called Goliath who is one massive bird.

    My wife and I have talked about raising some meat birds but we really didn't want the mess, we already have enough to keep up after.
  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Messages:
    8,479
    Loc:
    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    17% is low for a meat bird. Should be no less than 20% the whole time as I recall. 16% is a typical layer feed.

    I agree that there is not a great deal of taste difference with the home raised bird meat. Color, density, and texture are noticeably better. Funny how the eggs from a backyard bird are totally different than store bought but the meat is only slightly different, even when both are fed 100% packaged feed.

    With the freedom rangers you get a much slower growth rate. Do you also get less breast meat? harder to pluck? higher bird cost? The commercial machine has bred a lot of desirable traits into the cornish cross and I worry about giving them up with a dual purpose breed.

    Oh and my 3.5YO layers are about done and will be stewing hens here once their replacements are putting out eggs. I'll get to see how much less white meat a Rhode Island Red and Buff Orp have.
  12. dvellone

    dvellone Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2006
    Messages:
    449
    I don't know about breast meat. I'm assuming that if the freedom ranger is a specific breed developed for meat it should have some bulk to it, but it's hard to expect anything as large as the cornish cross. The author of the backyard poultry article does mention that even though they don't have white feathers they plucked easily and dressed out clean. He points out that the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association confirm this.
    The freedom ranger actually isn't a dual purpose breed but is a meat breed. The name 'Freedom Ranger", according to the owner of jm hatchery is a marketing ploy (though they do apparently "range" well.) They're a "proprietary hybrid broiler developed by Hubbard, a French corporation that provides breeder stock for producers of broiler chicks world-wide". They're one of several strains bred for the "rigorous production standards of the Label Rouge system in France..."
    I think that sometimes here in the US we're convinced that bigger is better - and I'll be the first to admit that there is a great benefit to managing my meat flock for only 6-8 weeks tops and still get a 4-6lb dressed out bird! - but if I can still get a decent sized bird after 4 more weeks and that bird can benefit from all the forage I have available here reducing feed cost a bit, but more importantly and hopefully improving the meat flavor then maybe better is better. In other words, the trade off for a few more weeks of feeding is better tasting meat and not having to change bedding every two days or physically have to put the birds back in their coop every night because they're either too lazy or stupid to go in themselves. The author cites an APPPA associate reporting that at 12 weeks cockerels dressed at 7-8lbs and pullets at 5-6lbs having been fed on a 20% protein feed so maybe these F.R. just have a little more brain bred into them.
    You mentioned that your birds were a slower growing strain of cornish cross and that the scald tank stayed clean. I'd guess that they were a slightly different strain of CC bred for easier management.

Share This Page