Thursday, April 17, 2014

Raising Meat Chickens

Raising Meat Chickens
*None of the below Cornish X chicken pictures are mine*

I could say I've been thinking about getting some meat chickens for awhile now, but I would be lying when I said that. The truth is this idea popped into my head exactly two days ago and I'm now determined to raise some Meaties!

 But I don't want to raise them the normal way. I want to raise them as naturally and humanely as possible and let them enjoy being a chicken for the few short weeks they would be here.

 We are fixing to butcher about a dozen of our geese, so that will drastically cut down on my work load and our feed bill. It will also provide me with more room; room that I could grow some Meaties in! After most of the geese are moved into the freezer I will only have a few (13 to be exact) geese left to house and I will simply build them some stalls inside the Poultry Palace (a.k.a my big insulated building). I will then tear out all the current stalls in the Goose House and when I get the chicks I will brood them in containers on the Goose House floor until they are bigger and need more room to run around. Then once they are about 2 wks old I will start letting them roam around in the large run that is attached to the Goose House. 

As far as feeding goes, I would love to feed them organic feed, but right now that's out of our price range. Maybe someday.
Instead I would feed them Evergreen (a feed brand) chick starter/grower, which I would ferment (more on that later). I would also start growing fodder and sprouts for them. They'd also get any extra veggie or kitchen scraps we have. Throw in lots of sunshine and exercise and I can see lots of healthy Meaties running around! Oh wait..I don't even have them yet.... 

As for a source for the chicks, pretty much all of the hatcheries carry them, but most of the TSC's (for all you non-country-fried folks out there, TSC stands for Tractor's Supply Company) are still carrying chicks. I called our "local" TSC and asked if they had any Cornish X chicks available, and the sweet lady I talked to said they only had 8 left. Shoot. We were thinking we wanted to do anywhere from 20-35 chicks. If I'm going to take the effort to raise some, I'd rather raise enough to keep us in supply of meat for several months. Eventually I'd like to be able to raise enough to last us the whole year. But for right now, let's just stick with a few. After all, I've never raised Meaties before so this'll be an experiment.

If we had more grass and not so many predators who also happen to like chicken dinners, I would consider free ranging them but I'm afraid since they are solid white they would be a white flashing beacon to all the hungry varmints out there.

We might be going to town sometime next week, so maybe we can pick some up then.

So what's your experience  been with Meaties? Have you raised them before? How did you feed and house them? What weight did they dress out at? Any tips you can give me? I'm all ears!

An awesome page showing the growth of some Meaties from day-olds to processing day. Excellent read!

Thread on free ranging Meaties:

Blessings - 

~ Aspen


  1. That is awesome I have raised Cornish x chicks before but I never bought them in a bunch since we are a small family of 4 I bought 5 chicks every second week so that when butchering day came we didn't have to deal with many broilers and in a way they develop at different time ranges(2 weeks apart) we usually butchered 3 every week it was sort a scale.

    In my experience I find them to very smart noble little animals, they eat plenty probably 4 times more than a normal chicken so you have to moderate their food, they will eat all day and be happy but it isn't good for them, I butchered them at 12 weeks since they mostly were left outside to forage and find food of their own but I complemented them with grain and food scraps, I had also had problems since many of them suffered from heart and breathing diseases, joint/leg problems, malformations and even tumors it was hard to watch so I decided stop raising this type of breed. I really don't know if their genetics are altered in any way- I am sure sticking to the heirloom breed this time just in case- But try searching well the company/store/place you are buying them so that they assure you that they are not altered or modified, it is way more safer for you and your family. Another tip try keeping them together don't mixed them up with other breeds that might be aggressive to them since they are a very passive breed they could end up injured or pecked terribly. I hope this might have helped you a bit . Have a wonderful day.


    1. Laura, thank you for the wonderful tips! I will defiantly keep them all in mind!

      Blessings -

      ~ Aspen

  2. Baby chickens are so adorable:)