raising small scale chickens for the table

Discussion in 'Holistic Farming' started by Chasingmytail, Jun 28, 2018.

  1. Chasingmytail

    Chasingmytail Member

    Location:
    Newport, SE Wales
    Anyone do this? I did it last year with Le Bresse organic they tasted amazing but not enough meat, amazing fat that I syphoned off. I raise them outside on pasture which keeps costs down etc.

    I have a few questions are having 25 day old arriving tomorrow. Anyone confident and do this regularly?
     
  2. Goatherderess

    Goatherderess Member

    Location:
    North Dorset
    If you shop in France for chickens, you see the le Bresse ones are fairly skinny - but delicious and at a premium price. In the UK we have been pushed the plumped up supermarket ones - even without buying them, they are in so many pictures that they are the accepted shape. If you want them to have a happy roaming life, there will be less breast meat. You can try keeping them in a smaller run for the last month?
     
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  3. Chasingmytail

    Chasingmytail Member

    Location:
    Newport, SE Wales
    Just got a few questions to ask really...looks like no one raises meat birds on here then?
     
  4. Goatherderess

    Goatherderess Member

    Location:
    North Dorset
    @Pasty Didn't you do some meat birds??
     
  5. Pasty

    Pasty Member

    Location:
    Devon
    Not specifically. We've eaten plenty of cockerels that I have raised and they have largely been very tasty but not comparable in volume to a supermarket bird at all. A decent strain of Oprington / Marans / Rhode will make a very nice roast if kept in a smaller pen for 18-24 weeks and fed plenty of corn and soya. But it still won't be the same amount of meat as that 3 for a tenner Tesco bird which tastes of nothing aside from the curry sauce you cook it in.

    There are people who sell Ross / Cobb chicks and these can be grown in an organic style with grass and stuff but will need to be killed when they are ready or they will die anyway. Also, I gather the methods of breeding them are not ideal but that all goes on in dark sheds.
    I'm not an expert by any means. If you want birds for home consumption, I would personally look for a very good strain of Marans or Rhode Reds and sell the pullets at POL. Probably all in end up with a few quid and some very tasty chikkin in the freezer.

    I have Le Bresse here but I think I got the bantam version as they look like leghorns so a lot of it is to do with the strain.
     
  6. beefandsleep

    beefandsleep Member

    Location:
    Staffordshire
    Indian/Cornish game are the birds to get. I reared half a dozen cockerels to 24 weeks and they were huge and very tasty. Very meaty birds and everyone who tasted them remarked that they actually tasted of chicken!!
     
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  7. Pasty

    Pasty Member

    Location:
    Devon
    Yes, they are the base of the modern broiler. But strain is very important so if you can find a good breeder, that's possibly the most important thing. As I said, my Le Bresse are like Leghorns. Meh.
     
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  8. Blaithin

    Blaithin Member

    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    I’ve raised mainly the Cornish Giants. Did one year of Mistral Gris.

    Most years I just butcher my extra cockerels as it’s just me a lot of the time and not really worth raising meat birds every year. Tend to do 50 meats every few years now.

    What sort of questions do you have?
     
  9. Dead Rabbits

    Dead Rabbits Member

    Location:
    'Merica
    A woman who kills her own chickens. Rare
     
  10. Chasingmytail

    Chasingmytail Member

    Location:
    Newport, SE Wales
    Ive got the chicks these are from Piggots so quality stock

    My question is can I raise them on layer pellets at are 17%. I buy in organic layer pellets and to buy extra grower adds expense plus you have to pay postage which on a pallet is £50. My feeling are its fine if I add milk as a snack or add other additions. I know some people like to do ferments but I need to source organic grain in small amounts which is flippin hard

    S44 - which is a Cornish Red and New Hampshire strain
    S957 - another cross waiting to here back what it is.

    I want to be able to note the differences in taste (if any).

    Mine are raised outside within a small area but on fresh grass (Joel Salitan method)

    If I want to get the best texture, taste and size what age to you reckon should kill at? 8 weeks?
     
  11. Blaithin

    Blaithin Member

    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Hatcheries usually have fairly good advice at what age to butcher their hybrids at. Because they all have a different mix of breeds all tossed together for different purposes it’s best to just go with what they recommend. Some are meant to finish in 6 weeks, some in 12. Usually I butcher on size vs age. When they’re hitting the 6 lb avg I find I have the best luck. I don’t like pushing them for a 6 week due date, especially the Cornish giants, as that’s when I’d get lots of mobility issues. I think growing them a bit slower to recommended size at 8-10 weeks gets more flavour and less internal fat. But some of the varieties meant to butcher at 10-12 weeks don’t reach a size worth doing until they’re 16 weeks.

    The grower crumble I feed is 16% protein. I don’t see any real issue with using a 17% layer but if the breeds you’ve got are designed for extremely fast growth I’d probably dilute it and lower it by adding in grains. The higher protein can make them grow too fast and they just end up blobs laying around. If they’re varieties meant for slower growth and ranging then 17 should be less of an issue.

    I have had better luck with only offering them feed on a schedule, not free choice. They get as much food as they can eat in half an hour, twice a day, kind of idea, and the rest of the time they can forage. Also added in a heritage rooster or two from my layer flock to help teach them how to forage. This greatly increased my last batches mobility and I had zero leg issues. They also get whatever scraps the layers get which differs yearly. Sometimes I have lots of extra milk, sometimes it’s just kitchen scraps, sometimes it’s garden scraps.

    This is all for the Cornish giants. Many hatcheries here will also offer hybrid options for slower growth and greater foraging ability. With these crosses a higher protein and a free choice feeding method probably wouldn’t be as damaging as with the faster breeds.
     
  12. Ukjay

    Ukjay Member

    Location:
    In the Mud
    May I ask (not trying to be rude or invasive with this question), but have you recently got into farming etc, or have are you from a farming family?
     
  13. Blaithin

    Blaithin Member

    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Grew up on a farm. 4th generation for sure. Not really sure how far back as then you hit the line of immigration.
     
  14. Ukjay

    Ukjay Member

    Location:
    In the Mud
    Does your family still farm, or are you the last generation to keep at it?
     
  15. Blaithin

    Blaithin Member

    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Grandpa still farms. Mom's here with me during the summer. There's an aunt who has her own little family farm. Not sure how interested most of the cousins are in farming. Probably something they'll get back to when they're older, maybe.
     
  16. Ukjay

    Ukjay Member

    Location:
    In the Mud
    Cool - explains a lot of on how you have as diverse knowledge.
    So for you, is this the stepping stone for your own personal farm, or is the city life eventually going to be calling you?
     
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  17. Blaithin

    Blaithin Member

    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    I like learning so it's easy to have more diverse knowledge. I do prefer animals and the feedlot gave me tonnes of knowledge for them, but now I work in the grain industry so that's helping out there as well.

    I've been in the city. During college mostly but Banff was also highly populated. I'm a farm girl. Even if I don't manage to get a large farm going I'm aiming for at least a 1/4 to run my own cows on and play around with ideas.
     
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  18. Ukjay

    Ukjay Member

    Location:
    In the Mud

    Personally I believe people have a tie genetically for rural living and associated challenges it may bring, whereby one never quite feels complete in the city / town lifestyle if you are out of it for any duration.

    It is either that or we are all eejits, but I prefer the wired to rural lifestyle.
     
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  19. Blaithin

    Blaithin Member

    Location:
    Alberta, Canada
    Could be, but my brother is about the least rural person I know. Living in my backyard in his camper is the closest to rural he's been since graduating. There's even a hilarious text from him when he was watching a cow for me this spring, where he couldn't tell which one was supposed to be close to calving :ROFLMAO:

    Then again, genetically we have dads city boi genes too.
     
  20. Chasingmytail

    Chasingmytail Member

    Location:
    Newport, SE Wales
    supplier recommends 80 days min for these breeds which is 11 weeks. Adlib feeding. I was thinking off adding milk as we have excess of jersey.

    Supplier rec grower to start with. However apart from the 1-2% protein difference are these the same in ingredients?
     

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