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Author Topic: Set up for broilers ?  (Read 1152 times)

finglas

  • Joined Jun 2019
Set up for broilers ?
« on: January 01, 2021, 10:54:15 pm »
Hi all and happy new year. I haven't posted much on here but enjoy reading and hoping I may get some advice here...

I would like to raise some chickens for meat and I have been thinking about set up. I've kept laying hens with my dad for a few years now and I'm quite comfortable with that.

Anyway I like the idea of keeping some chickens for meat. Less than 50, I think any more than that and I would be required to register them in some way.

My idea was to a have a small moveable coop (a tractor) and basically have that on pasture and enclosed within a larger area with would be enclosed with electric fencing. I know the meat birds don't tend to perch as the laying hens do (according to the internet that is) but my problem is, most coops for meat birds seem just like simple shelters. This will mean that every night there is a lot of muck building up under the shelter. So my question is, would I need to move the coop every day? Or,

Could i build a coop elevated up off the ground a little and have a wire floor in it so a good amount of muck would fall through thereby allowing them to remain in the same spot for a few days anyway because their bedding area wouldn't be too mucky?

Could chickens sit comfortably on a "metal grate/fencing" in the evenings?

Or would I really need to move and clean the coop daily?

As I say, I know these questions may make me sound a little lazy or what have you but it's just because I am staying off site as it were.

Thanks for any advice, greatly appreciated.

Jamie

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2021, 09:03:23 am »
For eggs laying chickens coop with wire floor is fine - theyxwould need perches to sleep on though.
However meat chickens are firstly chicks most of their lives, secondly they are too heavy to sleep on perches and if they sleep on wire floor they will hurt their feet and foxes can pull them through the wire bottom.
Personally I think movable coop/tractor is the best solution for meat chickens (or rabbits).
Or you can use plastic or wooden planks with lets say 1/2 inch gaps in between them omas floor, so the poo still falls down but they don't hurt their feet as on wire. People keep chickens and rabbits on that kind of floor.
Have a look at this coop:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Coop-for-12-laying-hens-in-Galvanized-Ducks-Quail-scorriuovo-/123022178551?_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49292

They have a version for meat chickens too - same thing but without egg boxes.
I'm considering getting something like that for eggs layers.
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2021, 09:33:20 am »
The amount of cleaning out you will need to do will depend on the number of birds you have. If you get your first batch in the Spring then a moveable coop on grass will be fine although as this type of bird eats a lot then they also produce a lot of muck - what goes in must come out after all. Even sited directly on grass you will find that the coop will need to be moved every couple of days. They also love to graze so the more grass you can give them the better. And don't underestimate how fast they grow. What will seem like a very roomy coop when they are 4 weeks old may well turn out to be quite a squeeze when they are 10 weeks, so make sure it is large enough. These birds give off a lot of heat and as they grow like to space themselves out for sleeping rather than snuggling up together.

If it's your first time rearing meat birds I recommend you start with no more than 6-10 birds and see how you get on. And be aware they will cost more to keep than laying birds due to the amount of food they need. Do you intend to prep them all yourself or will you have help?

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2021, 05:16:04 pm »
Yes, they double the size every week  ;)

By movsble coop i mesnt one you move every day  :)
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2021, 10:48:29 am »
I think you need to start with the characteristics of your chosen breed. Are you going to hatch or buy chicks because you will need the equipment for young birds? At what age will they be slaughtered and have you those facilities as well as plucking equipment. Here they usually go to slaughter and packaging at 14 -16 weeks, presumably because at 18 weeks the cocks start to fight so would need to be separated with a 'peacekeeper' (which we've seen)? But standard commercial breeds in the UK are slaughtered at 5 weeks and are very big and weak boned so shouldn't move much. However if you slowed the growth rate down and let them move they might develop properly?


I agree with starting with a few and getting to grips with the whole process. If you do put them onto grass it must be short and they will need grit, otherwise digestive impaction will be a problem. They will probably taste better and have textured meat, so with the extra costs and that difference they won't be everyones' choice should you want to sell them.


We've considered breeding for meat, but the welfare and quality standards are so high here there is little point. We bought our latest layers from the local farm, so we have seen first hand their conditions and they arrived in absolutely perfect health.

PK

  • Joined Mar 2015
  • West Suffolk
    • Notes from a Suffolk Smallholding
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2021, 11:58:43 am »
I try to keep the process simple. Here is what we do:-
1. We buy in 20 x day old chicks twice a year. I avoid Ross-Cobb and get White Ranger or Hubbards or an unnamed commercial variety which are stronger on their legs (although a little slower growing).
2. For the first 4 weeks they are kept in my workshop under heat from which they are gradually weaned off.
3. They then are housed in an ordinary garden shed within a fenced run. This is separate from our laying hens and other poultry and reserved for this purpose. In practice they don't range far anyway.
4. I top up their bedding most days and clear out and re-fresh once per week. I used chopped straw or similar bedding material as this stays drier for longer. This continues for about 8 weeks - not that onerous really. The cleared bedding goes into the compost heap (another reason for not using baled straw as it takes ages to decompose).
5. They are despatched from 12 weeks, hand plucked (beautifully clean I might add), two or three a day and straight into the freezer as whole birds. Basically, they have come and gone within 12-14 weeks. They are mostly for our own consumption.

As far as registration is concerned, the requirement to register is for 50 plus poultry in total so will include your laying hens (and any ducks or turkeys you might keep too). Registration does not require any additional administration or responsibilities and should not be a deterrent. I suppose there might be a slighly higher risk of being inspected but if you keep your birds to acceptable welfare standards I would't worry because you will do that anyway.
Bear in mind avian flu and the practicalities of being required to house them or at least have their run in a a finely netted structure alongside other bio-security requirements.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2021, 12:01:23 pm by PK »

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2021, 05:06:56 pm »
My system is very similar to PKs. I too buy in day old Hubbards which are much more "normal" than Cobbs, especially if you buy the brown ones as opposed to the whites. Depending on where you live you may find your local hatchery wont sell you a small batch - the one I use has an order minimum of 50 - so bear this in mind as you may need to organise sharing a batch with a few other people.

finglas

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2021, 12:14:21 am »
Apologies for the delay in getting back on here. Firstly, massive thank you to you all for helping me out! I really appreciate it.

I feel really quite positive after hearing everyone's ideas.

I did intend on buying them as very young chicks (day old by the looks of things) and the  keeping them somewhere with a heat source/lamp.

To be honest I did intend on trying to go at it with more than 6-10 just because I'd heard some may die before maturity and plus I'm expecting it to he fairly challenging to set up all the necessities for processing them so I thought it would make sense to try and get a good amount of "produce" at the other end? Having said that, maybe I am approaching it wrong given it would be my first attempt. Perhaps I should be less worried about produce and more concerned about simply learning the process?

I will certainly respect the advice of those with experience though and start with a smaller number, that makes sense.

I will do most of the processing with my father but if I had more birds I could probably find a few willing helpers.....coaxed with the lure of a few chickens haha!

Anyway, I've watched a few videos online and seen people scalding them before plucking, is that necessary? Could I simply pluck? I guess if I do need to scale I'll just need to find a gas burner probably and a big enough vessel, not too much of an issue.

Another thing I had wondered was how well will they freeze? How long can they remain in the freezer? It would be pointless me doing a larger number anyway if they won't last a reasonable length of time in a freezer...


Again, what a fantastic help this is. I appreciate it.

Jamie




finglas

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2021, 12:17:11 am »
Oh and as I've already said, thanks to all but special thanks to PK for breaking down this process like that...very helpful!

Jamie

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2021, 09:07:23 am »
They freeze well, and also there is no need to scald (wet pluck). They dry pluck well if done immediately after despatch whilst the body is still warm and as long as you go slowly to avoiding tearing the skin - being technically chicks the skin is very tender - you should end up with a nicely finished bird. Good luck.

PK

  • Joined Mar 2015
  • West Suffolk
    • Notes from a Suffolk Smallholding
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2021, 09:16:33 am »
Yes, chickens freeze well. Generally we get through ours within the year. I have come across one discovered at the bottom of the freezer a couple of years old and it was perfectly fine and actually no different in quality than one thats been in the freezer for 3 months. They need to be soundly bagged to avoid freezer burns.

Yes, you can dry pluck broilers which is best done while the carcass is still warm. But plunging in hot water makes plucking much easier. The key is to have the water hot enough, and to plunge long enough, sufficient to loosen the feathers but not to scorch the flesh. I think the temperature to aim for is 65 degrees centigrade but this part of the procedure can be fine-tuned with experience. For me, I know that if I fill a bucket with hot water from the tap and then add one kettle full of boiling water this produces the right temperature. I also know that I need to plunge the bird for between 45-55 seconds depending on the szie of the bird (with a bit of swishing about included).

(If you are going to hang the bird for a day or more - not necessary I don't think for broilers - then I would not plunge in hot water. I hang turkeys for a week before gutting so I dry pluck. Turkey's relatively easy so long as this is done immediately following despatch).

Here's what we do:-
1. I despatch and do the main plucking. Kil one, pluck one. I fill a fresh bucket of hot water for each bird.
2. I hand the bird to my wife who likes to remove every last feather and hair with tweezers.
3. Whilst she does this I tend to the next bird.
4. After the final pluck the bird comes back to me to gut.
5. A good rinse through in fresh water, drained and patted dry and then bagged and put into the freezer.

From first setting up to everything cleared away and sitting down to a cup of tea takes us 2 hours to do three birds. This can be carried out at a much faster rate if you are not so fussy about how cleanly plucked and dressed the bird is or if you are happy to joint it before freezing. We do it the way we prefer.

As offal fans we keep the livers and heart for our dinners. We also keep the necks as my wife has a way of cooking these to make a surprisingly tasty diish. We also keep the feet - ocassionally to make spicey chicken feet, but more often for a Polish family who use the to make a stock for soup.

finglas

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2021, 10:23:41 am »
Excellent advice again, thank you richmond and PK. It's good to know scalding is an option but not necessary. The time of 2 hours to fully process 3 birds is interesting too. Maybe a larger number of birds seem a little daunting, unless I do it gradually over a few days I guess...

Pk, could I ask about your first post again...you said the 4 week old chicks are placed in what is essentially a garden shed with a run attached. I am wondering what size the run is for around 20 chicks ?

Thank you both again,

Oh and I wondered too, can you mail order day old chicks in the UK? I could see how that could pose a welfare concern so just wondering about that?

Jamie
« Last Edit: January 04, 2021, 11:40:41 am by finglas »

Richmond

  • Joined Sep 2020
  • Norfolk
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2021, 01:27:13 pm »
As far as I'm aware you can't mail order them - as you say there would be a welfare issue. You would need to either collect direct from the hatchery or have them delivered, although hatcheries rarely deliver small batches. Mine come from Lincolnshire and I meet the delivery van somewhere en route when he is delivering to the larger farms in Norfolk who buy birds in the 100s and 1000s.

finglas

  • Joined Jun 2019
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2021, 03:03:04 pm »
Thank you Richmond. I'm in central scotland so I will check it out. I'd imagine there must be somewhere.

Thank you,

Jamie

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
Re: Set up for broilers ?
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2021, 10:34:15 pm »
As far as I'm aware you can't mail order them - as you say there would be a welfare issue. You would need to either collect direct from the hatchery or have them delivered, although hatcheries rarely deliver small batches. Mine come from Lincolnshire and I meet the delivery van somewhere en route when he is delivering to the larger farms in Norfolk who buy birds in the 100s and 1000s.
That's how I ordered. I ordered 20 i think but because the guy has much larger orders he gave me 40 for the same price - as they were left over from larger order  ;)
Since its lockdown again I might start preparing for a next batch of chicks  :innocent:
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese rabbits and a little boy on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

 

good broilers

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