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Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:08 pm
by glyn.c
do any of you rear meat birds ? if so what sort ? we are thinking of rearing a few this year, just a few to start to see how we get on maybe 6-10 but am undecided/confused on what breed to start with ,we are a bit concerned with them going off their legs due to growing too large too fast so a slower growing bird is needed but are looking for a good sized finished bird and obviously taste ,any suggestion on what to try would be appreciated , i have an incy and a supply of OEG banty's that are regularly broody to hatch eggs if needed ,ive read that some breeds of meat birds dont move about a lot "how much space do they need "? they cant be permanently free range but access out a couple of hours a day may be possible, i have a spare pen about 30' x 10' and an attached undercover area/coup about 8' x 10' would that be large enough for 6-10 birds ? any help appreciated


Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 3:39 pm
by Odsox
I've reared meat birds off and on for 50 years or so, with various breeds and lengths of fattening.
Basically the only way it's worth doing as far as expenses are concerned is to have your own breeding stock. With a large cockerel and a dual purpose flock of hens you can get chicks for the price of keeping the cockerel in food, slightly more if you use an incubator.
Then you need to fatten them, so you must either grow high protein food yourself (peas, beans, barley), or buy some in (extra expense)
One problem with this approach is the longer it takes to fatten them the tougher the meat will be.

If you're not too bothered about the expense, but maybe want to be in control of their life and death, then buying in Cobbs or similar at a few days old is the best way.
They will rapidly grow and fatten if fed commercial feed, and the trick with them is to slaughter early. My last lot (last year) were fed a mixture of commercial feed and home grown and were slaughtered in 2 batches at 7 weeks and 8 weeks, and even then they dressed out at around 2 kilos.
Leave them much longer and that's when you start getting leg problems.

The fattening area is a fenced off part of the layers chicken house, about 10' x 5', and is about right for a dozen at a time. When it's not in use and as there's no nest boxes, it's also a handy place to put broody layers to break them of the urge to sit.


Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2015 6:20 pm
by doofaloofa
We are keeping geese, turkeys seasonaly, and have just begun buying broiler chicks to fatten

regarding your question about space, here are some regs for 'Free Range'...
(ii) the birds have had during at least half their lifetime continuous daytime access to open air runs comprising an area mainly covered by vegetation of not less than:
1 m2 per chicken or guinea fowl,

2 m2 per duck or per capon,

4 m2 per turkey or goose ... s72010.pdf

What birds are available in your area Glyn

I may call you Glyn?


Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:03 am
by glyn.c
thanks guys ! yes doofa of course you can call me glyn , not really sure whats available in the area its something i need to find out,i was hoping to get an idea first of what to look for , one idea was to get a light sussex cockrel and cross it with our hybrid layers (light sussex looking birds, think they were called sussex star or something , we were told that they were a x with ls and ixworth but how true that is im not sure !) and grow a few of them on for the pot and also that would cover us for any replacement layers we needed .the main aim was to perhaps do 1 batch a year of some sort of meat birds for the freezer and xmas, turkeys would have been great but we just dont have the room !,we only have about a 1/4 acre and need to use it to its absolute max ,though we were fortunate to be able to start with a bare plot and lay it out to our own ideas so no wasted space ,we have the veg and fruit sorted with a kitchen garden and greenhouse and the layers but next stage is the meat birds .