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Thursday 8 August, 2013

by Rosemary at 9:20am in Poultry 6 comments Add your own

Last weekend, we killed and cleaned this year’s batch of meat poultry. We bought 20 Ross Cobbs as day olds, raised them under a heat lamp for about four / five weeks then kept them on pasture until slaughter.

Ross CobbsPasture-raised Ross Cobbs.

We fed Marriages chick crumbs then grower pellets, with some mixed corn. At nine weeks old, they were an average of 3kg in weight dressed, ranging from 2.5kg to 4kg.

Unfortunately, only 14 of the original 20 remained by slaughter day. This is really quite disappointing, as I would only expect to lose maybe one in a batch. I don’t know if we can put this down to the strain – we usually have Hubbards, which are bred for outdoor rearing.

Of the six we lost, two were culled and the rest were just dead in the morning, with no sign of any illness previously. Dan opened up two and they were full of fluid (ascites or waterbelly), which is apparently a a type of congestive heart failure and a weakness in the strain of birds.

We got a total of 42kg of poultry meat and it cost us £4.18 per kg to raise; had we had 60kg (i.e. all birds surviving and averaging 3kg), the cost per kg would have been £2.88 per kg.

Consequently, any thoughts of doing this on a semi-commercial footing are on hold. Tesco is currently selling British corn fed, free-range chicken at £6/kg; its Value chicken is £2.48/kg. Their chickens are smaller than ours – maximum 2.4kg – so it’s not a true like for like comparison, because we’d be able to kill a week earlier and still make these weights.

We’re considering trying rabbits as a protein source – no feathers, see – so watch this space. :-)

Comments

Kathy

Thursday 8 August, 2013 at 3:58pm

We just had our Cornish X slaughtered, and the weight was 9-12 lbs DRESSED.

they were 10 weeks old, and the guy slaughtering them for us was surprised that we had not lost any. We also raised them under the lights for 5 weeks, and then kept them in side at night, outside during the day. They didn't really free range, however we placed their feed several feet away so they would have to move to it. We now are trying Red broilers. We loved the Cornish X however.

WoodlandsDevon

Friday 9 August, 2013 at 9:12pm

Kathy,

your comment sounds interesting as we are just hatching some Cornish crosses for meat. what were your Cornish crossed with?

Elizabeth Faires

Sunday 11 August, 2013 at 1:25pm

We raised Cornish x very successfully previously in BC but couldn't find any in our new location (Nova Scotia, Canada) so this year we tried SSASO. Heritage birds. We've kept them out on pasture and fed 7 bags of feed so far at $14.50 per bag including a starter crumb. We'll have 24 birds to butcher next week and it looks like the average will be 6lbs dressed. We figure to end up with 130 lb and will have spend a total of $200 on birds, feed and fence so that's about $1.50 lb. So the economics are pretty good but they've taken longer to grow and done a lovely job of trimming grass and eating bugs at the farm. I'll definitely get them again! One of our more successful experiments.

artscott

Monday 12 August, 2013 at 9:43am

We were planning on raising some meat chickens this year but were stalled by more demand than usual for hatching eggs after the horse meat scandal. My Daughter does have some meat rabbits though, just about the right size and age for their first litters. I must say after half mad and potty chickens the rabbits are very easy to keep. They eat all the trimmings from the veg, all sorts of weeds we collect and they grow like stink too.

chrisi

Monday 19 August, 2013 at 7:54pm

does anyone know where i can get 10+aylesbury ducks plucked ready for the freezer-dont fancy doing them myself!

Rosemary

Monday 19 August, 2013 at 8:57pm

Chrisi, you'd be better putting this on the TAS forums rather than here.

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