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meat chickens are sad

Posted by amiz5904 z8 NC (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 3, 06 at 15:46

This is my first time with meat chickens and I have to say that these guys are truly pathetic. They are 5 weeks old now and it hurts me to watch them waddle around. I put them out in a pen and they can't even manage to get out of their own way. They trip over the smallest object and any exertion makes them sit. I'm trying not to overfeed them so they don't grow too fast, but really, is this normal? It's so sad, they don't even act like chickens - no scratching, barely any interest in pecking the dirt. Genetics has really messed with these guys bad.....


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: meat chickens are sad

Thanks for the heads up, I was reminded of this recently on another board I frequent and I am thinking twice now before I order any this spring. Dh was going to order a few to tack on my order with my egg layers but I think a kosher king might be a better alternative. It's gotta be sad to watch but either way it will be sad because you know their ultimate purpose.

Kosher Kings are barred rock crosses and take a bit longer to mature but can be pasture raised and they don't have the same health issues. You can also spread out the processing time by several weeks if you choose as they won't drop dead on you.

-Sheila


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You can manage those Cornish crosses in different ways, restricting feed to only 12 hours access per day and giving plenty of space, even outdoors space, is not inconvenient. It worked for me. I slaughtered some of the cockerels @ 3 weeks as cornish hens and the remainder @ 8 & 9 weeks as roasters. lost 2 out of 25 the 1st time I tried them. No leg troubles. Yep, they are a different kind of critter for sure. I dont like them untill they are in the freezer!


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We tried our first 50 Cornish Xs last summer and were delighted that we didn't have the problems we kept hearing we would have. I think there are different strains so maybe that is the problem. We didn't feed ours at night, they free-ranged and were very active in the pasture. We processed all of ours at 6 weeks because we were in the midst of moving. All were between 2.8# and 4.25#. The ones this spring will go the full 8 weeks.

We put molasses and cider vinegar in their water for the full length of time and also gave them Diatomaceous Earth and Kelp Meal along with their Certified Organic feed--no antibiotics, or other medications at all. They seemed very happy to be able to run free and socialize with their chicken friends (and they do bond in small groups!).

We are getting 200 day olds this time around and hope the first time wasn't just a fluke!


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I got chickens for fertilizer (poop) and bug control, so I got some real slow maturers, Light Brahmas, and they are great birds. Though they will get to 10#s or so, they "don't make good meat birds because they mature slowly," maybe next time get more birds, before your meat birds get all eaten; get the brahmas and just be more patient to eat them. The brahmas are way more personable than the Easter Eggers I have and they are quite active and fun to watch. But if eating is your main goal, they (hatchery) claim that they don't mature for about a year or more. I got mine in August and they are just now about 6-7#'s. The other issue about eating them is that they are so personable, you may not be able to, I couldn't imagine intentionally killing one; but would eat one that died from other causes.


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When I was a teenager, my family raised smaller livestock for our own consumption (pigs, chickens, rabbits, etc.). One year he bought some meat-stock chicks-- I forget the exact type-- but they were white and grew to be enormous. Ours, which we kept in 10'x10' pens, behaved the same way the OP described-- lethargic, overburdened, unable to stand for long periods, etc.

However, when we got them, by dad gave a few of the chicks to a friend who, instead of confining them to a pen, let them be free-range on his property all day and only penned them up at night. Wouldn't you know it, those chickens became like little King Kongs-- they were huge AND strong, and way outlived our birds.


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My feeling about the Cornish X's is that they grow so fast and have such short lives (6-8 weeks) that they should have happy lives while they are with us. Plenty of space to forage, roam, run and act like chickens is a great start. I don't think you will ever see lazy chickens that have plenty of space and stuff to do.

Also, with all the extra exercise, you will find you don't have the leg problems that confined meat birds have. Ours are raised in moveable hoop houses and they have very large electric mesh fences around their yards that are moved weekly once they are out of the brooder and outdoors.


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I am so glad this has come up. I feel very strongly about this subject.
We got 14 "roasters" as chicks last July to raise for, well, meat. We did the things that are supposed to prevent leg/heart problems and didn't loose any, but one did break his leg about a week before we took them to be killed. It was the saddest thing. I brought him food and water for that time. I felt terrible.
When we got them I told myself that they would lead the best short lives we could give them, and I believe they did. They had access to a huge garden and its produce, sun, shade and a cozy house at night. But watching them waddle about compared to our laying hens made me start thinking of them as mutants, mutants created by breeders that think only of a product. We had 12 of them killed at about 12 weeks and they were huge--one at 11 1/2 pounds. They are very tasty. But I cannot go through that again. I would rather raise a "regular" chicken, give it a good life and then (maybe) kill it. Boy I have a hard time with this whole thing. Are there others out there like me?
We did apare two of our "roasters," the smallest, Martha and Mary. They are still huge but they get around and do chicken things, just in a clumsier fashion. They are very sweet and stay together a lot. In the pecking order they are at the bottom but really don't get any grief from the others. They sleep on the floor of the chicken house (there's no way they could perch and that is sad), huddled with each other and, surprisingly, with our barred rock Rooster, Sluggo. The other 7 hens and a rooster roost at night.
Mary and Martha lay an egg or two a week--smallish eggs with unusually large yolks. They are an important part of the chicken community in our yard. But I have real ethical objections to the breeding practices that produced them


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They're disgusting and sad-- agreed. I ordered 10 last year and they all died from one cause or another over the course of the 8 weeks it took them to reach slaughter age. I also ordered 25 "heavy breeds, all males" (hatchery's pick on breeds)... they were mostly Rhode Island Reds and similar. I had to let them live a bit longer to get to good size , but they wandered around the yard all summer, cleaned up my autumn garden, and then they were some very tasty chickens, indeed. If you have space, I highly recommend heavy breed males and let 'em free range .. happy, healthy, genetically OK roosters make yummy chicken feasts.

Kristen


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After reading all of these posts, I realize that my great experience with my broilers was only great because I had nothing to compare them to! This spring I plan to get some heirloom breeds for eggs. I expect I will change my mind about the meat birds then---however, I still think mine had a great happy life and seemed very active with no leg problems.

Will there be a problem raising the newly hatched meat birds with the heirloom breeds?


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That may well be Roberta, because I have to say that the difference in meat birds vs. the heirloom breeds is like night and day. The latter are feisty little critters that do a lot of running around, flight testing and dust bathing, and not nearly as much of sitting at the food bowl all day long and barely standing up. These are truly pitiful little creatures. I'll be glad not to see them lumbering about anymore....never again.


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I have ordered them before as well, and have found them to be sad creatures. They are a hybrid and don't reproduce and have various problems. Here in AZ they won't make it thru a summer. Too hot for their systems. I am going to try delawares as an alternative. They are a heavy utility bird that grows more quickly than many other breeds. Of course, not as fast as the hybrids/crosses.


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Roberta
We had lots of problems introducing youngster meat birds to our young (4 month) red star pullets. Some of the brown chickens went way out of their way to peck at the meat chickens. We ended up dividing the chicken house, putting in a separate door for the white chickens and fencing off a new pen for them. We had to alternate times in the garden for each group (meat chickens in the morning, brown chickens in the afternoon). Shortly before the meat chickens were killed, we had put all the chickens together again and things were better but then the male meat chickens started "going after" the brown pullets. As I said in my last posting, our surviving meat chickens are fine in the group now.
But be prepared for some problems. I likened the reaction of the brown chickens to the meat chickens to 6 fussy ladies suddenly forced to share quarters with 14 clumsy adolescents.


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I was thinking about ordering some of the meat chickens this Spring at the same time as my future laying hens, but was a bit worried about the problems assoicated with them. I think I will now go with the Leghorn males (what they call fryer chickens). You have to raise them longer and they may never get as big as the meat chickens but I don't think I could stand what you guys describe! I have raised chickens for awahile, but when we moved summer before last I didn't get anymore. Hubby is building me a new coop this Spring so I can start again - my few old ones I had left went to live out their days scratching happily at my parents farm - that's how I think chickens should be!
I am thinking of getting some Light Brahmas for laying also as they say they are really gentle. Also so Buff Orphingtons - love them. My Buff Orphington roaster was the best!
Karen


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Heirloomtomato: Please don't assume that what you hear on this thread is the way all meat chickens react. I know I am going back and forth with this, but after checking with the Pasture Poultry people on another forum, I realize that my meat birds were not unusual in their active behavior. Mine did lots of "running around, flight testing and dust bathing" and I never had any that sat all day by the food trough. (I always had the food up where they had to stand to eat, though) I enjoyed watching the cocks do their "stare-down rooster dances". They sure are fun and their antics made me want to raise hens for eggs as well as the meat birds.

I wouldn't try to raise meat birds to 12 weeks though! Then you could expect problems. I think 8 weeks is about as long as you should let them grow. If you want a 11# bird, you should probably raise turkeys.

I am thinking that this spring, I will raise the heirlooms and Cornish X's together till they are out of the brooder and then keep them separate. I expect the differences in sizes will be a problem.


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I'm not sure this will get bumped up enough to be seen but I have read all these similar threads after thinking about getting some Cornish X along with my layers this spring. Now I'm really on the fence. I had planned to keep them separate, the layers eventually going into their coop and the meat birds in a space in the barn with plenty of room. I figured that it would be hard the first time slaughtering them anyway but I know I would be completely grossed out by some of the incidents reported above. The mind is a strange thing, LOL. I could handle the normal illness and things that are somewhat expected if you care for animals. But I know those things would come to mind as I took a chicken dinner out of the oven :( Maybe I would be better off trying a few Cornish X and a few dual purpose and see what happens. Lori


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We sell the Cornish X chicks at the feed store where I work and at 2 weeks they are too big for the brooder. After taking care of them I don't feel so bad about eating them because they wouldn't be able to live a chicken life. I agree give them the best life you can, butcher animals should only have one bad day.


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That's one way of looking at it, Acorn. A plus in my book. As a kid my Dad and grandparents all butchered various animals but I never had a personal hand in it. So this will be an experience for me and one I have been nervous about. I plan to put them in the barn with plenty of shelter, space and comfort but did not want them in with the layers whom I want a more "family" feel with. In a strange way it DOES help to know the Cornish X would not be able to live out a normal chicken life anyway, in most cases. Lori


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well, I was sold a meat chicken by mistake. i was told it was leghorn. That was back in May and that would make her about six months old at the end of this month. She pretty much free ranges and is very chummy with the two girls I bought with her. they are very protective over her. Even though she is three times as big they are. She has gotten much older then the research I did lead me to believe she would ever get. and so far no health problems. I can't eat anything I have raised, so that is out of the question. but I was thinking of putting an ad out to give her away to someone that could eat her so she won't be just a waste. I keep thinking how much longer can she go on before she collapses. Thanksgiving is coming and she is as big as some turkey's I have seen S. I wondered if I would get an egg outta her and hope it won't cause her a prolapse.

this post probably doesn't help you in your decision, It is my experience though.

See you soon

CI


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We got 14 meat chickens in July 05 and butchered 12 in late Octoberthats past the recommended age for slaughter but thats what we did. We spared two smaller females. Both laid eggsthough only one or two a week. One died in April or May 06 (so 9-10 months) and the other we butchered at 11 months. Yes, they got slow and it was hard to see them lumbering about towards the end. But for the most part they did regular chicken things and I think very much enjoyed their lives. I will never get meat chickens again. Right now we are raising some regular breedsthe males will be butchered in a few months, and they wont be huge but they wont have been handicapped during their lives by our breeding practices.


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It really is sad that we are so into "instant" and " big" that we sometimes compromise to get it. Bigger is not always better. Sometimes I wonder if we are trying too hard to play God and then create Frankensteins instead, lol. I would rather have a happy, normal chicken, without any genetic defects than go thru coming home from the grocery store only to find 3 chickens had dropped dead from the heat. And I had tried so hard!
We had to seperate them quite soon as chicks, as well, because they really were trying to eat themselves to death and the other breeds, which were smaller, weren't getting enough food.
My Delawares and Large Brahmas are getting huge and will make great additions to dinner. To each his own, lol, Dannic


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OK, my mind is made up. No Cornish X for me. I know darned well I would think about all this genetic stuff and problems as I took the meat out of the freezer. I'm happy for those that had great results and encourage them to do it again. Even the pic of the bird on MM site is strange, LOL. Even if I had good results, I would remember these stories. Like I said, the mind is a strange thing. Thanks to all, I do appreciate the input. Lori


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  • Posted by suenh cold end of 4! (My Page) on
    Thu, Oct 19, 06 at 8:18

I raised my meat birds free range the same as my pet birds and egg layers. Been no problems with them mingling unless you consider the roosters which the fat girls can't out manuever.

They are pathetic. Even allowed to range they rarely get more than 20 feet from their feeder before they need to wander back and eat again. Still I think their short little lives deserved to be good ones. They could stretch in the sun and eat some grass and bugs during the day. They were able to roost on a perch about 4 inches above the ground for all of a week before they got too big. I can still see the thought to roost at night is there. Just no way for them to do it. I do seperate the meat birds from the others at night just so that the more mobile birds can't take advantage of them.

I do very much admit to thinking about smuggling one of my smaller ones out to keep for crossing with the more functional birds. Figured I might get a bigger but less pathetic meat bird. D-day for this batch is Monday. Problem is she may not make it to spring. Even the smallest is waddling and sorry.

Way back when I was a kid my older cousin brought me a crate of chickens that had fallen off a truck bound for the plant. The chickens that survived the accident didn't live long. One by one the 13 survivors fell victim to their genetics. The very oldest did make it to about 5 years but her crate mates were long gone. My other chickens regularly make it to 10+ years and a few as old as 15. Poor mutants just can't do it.

I do admit I'm bothered deep inside by a creature that has been so manipulated that it can't be what it is. That said I will have more cornish crosses. The factory farms scare me more.

Also if you do raise them plan for an incredible amount of chicken poo. Never seen anything like it.

I didn't think I could slaughter something I raised but the meanest rooster I had ever kept in 40+ years of chickens pushed me over the edge. He would cross several acres to attack any human in the back yard. I had bruises across my legs and lower back constantly. He knocked my then 13 year old daughter to the ground and continued attacking. I didn't dare keep anything this mean. A small child could have been seriously hurt. A class came up on poultry processing with the beginner farmers org. just as I decided he had to go. Was perfect timing. As long as somebody else does the actual killing the processing of the carcass doesn't bother me. Mean roo was excellent done in a crock pot.


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Well, our meat chicken was with us for seven months. We finally found someone to eat it. Just in time for Thanksgiving. It weighed out at 20pounds. It was like chickenzilla. It free ranged and we never had any health prolbems with it. but I am glad someone will get some use out of it before it had a heart attack.

CI


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Amiz, after reading this thread I laughed remembering one I posted last summer after we (okay...he) "processed" our 10 meat chickens. I think you may have even been in on it! Anyway, I did a search for "I'm so dissappointed in myself" and have spent the last hour reading, and LMAO, at some of the comments!

Good times, back then. Good people, good friends. And, yes...good chicken!

Suzie


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mamacotti, I went and read that thread. It was very entertaining S. I'm glad you pointed it out. When it was first suggested on this site, very tactfully I might add, that if I couldn't eat my meat hen that I find someone who could so that its life wouldn't be a waste, I thought Oh, I don't think I could EVER do that. but the more i thought about it the more it seemed right to me that her life not be a waste. And the fact that she lived so long and had such good health made me feel that I had done a good job with her. But I also knew it wouldn't go on forever and that something would have to be done soon. So I felt really fine about finding someone who would take her for thanksgiving dinner. and now I am looking forward to finding out how she tasted. is that terrible or what? What would Evie think? oh my. What really surprised me is that I live in a pretty rural area and had to look really hard to find someone that would take her to eat.

I do have a question though someone told my husband that a hen that big wouldn't taste good, he didn't explain his reasoning for this or my hubbie didn't explain it to me. he works third so a lot gets lost in transit. LOL anyway I think maybe this person wasn't familiar with meat hens. that they are bred just to get humongous and then eat. Maybe he was thinking that a normal type of hen that managed to get that big, (although I can't see that happening with a regular hen,) would have a lot of fat on it.

For those of ya'll who have raised and eaten meat hens, about how big do they weight at culling time, and how do they taste?

Thanks
CI


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Size, breed and age should not affect the taste of the meat. It may affect the tenderness. Older hens and roosters are best aged a few days in the fridge and then cooked slowly with a moist heat. Thinks chicken and dumplings or chicken soup or chicken pot pie rather than fried or roasted chicken.

By the way, I think you did a great job with your hen. You gave her a good healthy life against all odds and you saw to it she isn't being wasted. Well done!


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  • Posted by suenh cold end of 4! (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 18, 06 at 5:23

My meat hens now reside in the freezer. Very tasty and the things dressed out over 10 lbs a piece. I have an incredible amount of meat from just 25 hens.

Observation...
There was an incredible amount of fat in the body cavity. I often had to clear a handfull just to clean it out. Blood clots and fat were all around their hearts. They would not have lasted much longer. Fat deposits just about everywhere.
These were birds that could range to their hearts content. They could eat grass and bugs and do anything their fat bodies let them. Little genetic time bombs.

I didn't keep one. Most were turning blue and wheezing like a fat old man at 12 weeks old. Next batch I think I'll just go 10 weeks or less. Guess it depends on how they grow. Meat was very flavorful. 100x better than grocery store chicken. Almost a different creature all together.

Their short lives were good as I could give them. Now I thank them for wonderful food. Best you can do.


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Maggie thanks for saying that, it means a lot to me. I know she was just a chicken but she was a living creature. I think people around here think I'm pretty silly. S although those same people wouldn't eat her themselves. LOL

CI


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They are sad when you see a big truck drive by with some :( I've always wanted to get a few and give them a better life. How do you think a couple would do?


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Don't do it, Genny. You'd be setting yourself up for heartbreak when they drop dead at a few months old.

CI's meat chicken was unusually fortunate, thanks to her excellent and devoted care, but even if you did the same... the chicken was ready to die of heart failure at seven months old. Most would not live even that long.

Better to concentrate on critters that will be with you for a considerable time: your cutie-pie (Reese), your lovely ducks, bunnies and so forth.


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We "saved" two meat chicken females. One made it to 9 months and then just dropped dead. The other one kept going but slower and slower--also had trouble with egg binding. We killed her at 11 months--we stewed that chicken and it was very tasty. I have all sorts of emotions and ethical qualms about eating an animal that I have cared for and named and fussed over. But if the one alternative is to bury a carcass (that seems no more respectful) and the other alternative is to buy a chicken that someone else raised and killed or that was raised in some factory, then raising chickens with sunshine and grass and bugs and then eating them seems to be an ethical choice.


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Genny,

You're so warm and dedicated to your animals! If I were a goat or a chicken, I'd wish to belong to you... but I'm with Maggie on this one. I wouldn't do it...and from the chicken's point of view, perhaps it's not the most humane thing anyway, considering that these guys cripple easilly and are slave to their genetics (i.e. food bowls).

Maybe it's best for these types to just get 'it' overwith quickly and then circle back around to this planet as an upgrade... as one of your spring ducklings, say! (depending on your spiritual beliefs, of course). If that were the case, and I were a Cornish Cross, I'd run to the finish! (er, well, waddle most hastilly).

Stick with a bird that will live longer and healthier. This way you both can appreciate its full and bountiful life!

(Just my two cents)..

LF(RJ)


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Thanks for your advice everyone. I just feel so sorry for them, and I wondered if they would make a good pet. I heard from a friend that they usually can't walk well and some can't walk at all. I just thought maybe some of you might have done this or thought about it. I've never had a chicken, but they seem sweet and funny from what a lot of you say :)

Thanks for the advice everybody, and the sweet compliment, LF & RG!


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Genny, you probably would enjoy having chickens... but don't pick a meat bird. Silkies are small and sweet, don't really fly and lay cute tiny eggs. There are lots and lots of nice breeds of chickens that will be friendly and active and lay eggs for you for years. Just make sure you do your "homework" first and have a safe place for them before you start.

Why not take a look at Velvet Sparrow's website. She know an awful lot about chickens!

Here is a link that might be useful: Velvet Sparrow's Site


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Velvet is definetly a fountain of information! Also if you read some more posts on just this thread alone you would immediatley see why meat hens would not make a good backyard chicken. Mine was sold to me in error. Although it didn't take me long to figure out something was wrong. Even though I am a novice at chicken raising. S

right now I have the most delightful barred rock. She is snow white and coo's like a dove. She is very talkative in a quiet way, does that make sense. She doesn't follow me squawking but just coo's so sweetly. She is my first barred rock and I want another so badly right now. one reason is to even out the color in my flock and two because she is just so dang sweet.

all my friends think I'm nutty because I just go on and on about my hens. LOL I guess I'm a bit of a bird brain. heehee

CI


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This is our first experience with chickens (poultry altogether for that matter). I asked my mother, chicken guru from the old farm days, which breed she would recommend. She suggested Buff Orpingtons, good layers, good table birds (though not like the cross rocks), and very docile. So we now have two little scamper-pants sharing the chicken yard with our ducks. We named them Buffy, and Buffy...both so ditzy, they each think they have original names!

Good layers each (brown eggs), very sweet, very approachable, a pretty butterscotch color. Mom always-seems-to-know-best again, (darn it)!

LF(RJ)


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  • Posted by suenh cold end of 4! (My Page) on
    Mon, Nov 20, 06 at 3:25

When I was a kid my older cousin brought me some birds that had fallen off a big truck. The accident survivors numbered 13. One by one they died for no reason that an 8 year old girl could understand. My other chickens were fine and happy. I did have one lone meat hen that made it to just shy of 5 years. She was the smallest, lightest.
Was pretty sad. At first they had no idea what to do with grass and room to roam. Took weeks for them to learn that beyond the chicken pen was lots of good things. Anyway even very young it did do my heart good to see them stretch out on the lawn or eat fallen fruit from the small orchard in the back yard.

I've wondered for a long time now if I could breed a meat bird that was plumper than the dual purpose breeds but still functional as a bird. Breeding a survivor hen to a regular standard rooster just might do it. Put some vigor back and cut down the size. Not sure I need many meat birds that dress out over 10 lbs for a family of 3 to eat anyways. Only dual purpose ones I've processed were extra roosters so a hen just might be plumper anyway. The young roos were long and lanky.

For pet chickens and a few eggs for the table any well treated hen will work well. I've got a smattering of dual purpose breeds and there are a few outstanding personalities but all are nice girls. My characters are a quizzy red sexlink that has to supervise anything going on out back, a black sexlink that runs over a talks for 10 minutes or so everyday. I think the black one is telling me all about her day. The conversation always seems to end when I tell her "Oprah is a very fine chicken". Off she goes for more hidden goodies.There's a black australorp hen that follows me and seems to be asking me to double check my pockets for more treats. There are others all nice girls but I have my personality favorites.


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LF, Mother certainly does know best. One of my first hens was a golden buff and she was the friendliest!! She would follow me around and just talk and talk. when she heard my voice from the back door she would run as fast as her fat body would let her wobble to the fence to talk to me. And she would hunker down for me to pet her back and pick her up if need be. She died a few months ago. I let her get too fat and she had a prolapse I nursed her through the first one but a few months later she developed another one and that one did her in. I think we bonded when two roosters got ahold of her and really opened up her back. They just weren't sensitive to her feminine needs ;) I nursed her wound faithfully and even though they were beautiful boys not having enough hens to satisfy them they just had to go. I think she appreciated it. I have a new buff now that we have named after her as they look exactly alike and if she has any of baby's personality I will be more then happy. She is 4 months and much smaller. I have learned my lesson though no more over feeding. its not an excuse but I am a southern homemaker. If its sad, mad, happy or tired, I feed it. ;) That goes for human and otherwise.

Have fun with your girls. and be careful it can become an addiction. although I'm not addicted I can quit anytime I want to. right after I get another barred rock, and maybe just one or two easter eggers. Then Its cold turkery or cold chicken. but thats it I'm quitting after that. LOL

CI
PS: Possibley another buff but then thats really it!


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CI, you are too funny... but you give an accurate description of chicken addiction aka "chicken pox". LOL.

I like chickens... but my undoing has been the geese. I just love my geese... particularly my Pilgrims. Of course, I am not addicted, I can quit any time I want. I don't need any more, four geese are just perfect... well, maybe just one more... or two...

And those Sebastopols have such gorgeous feathers... and the Tufted Romans are so cute and pretty and anyway they saved the city of Rome from attack... Surely a breed worth saving. But I AM NOT addicted, I can quit anytime I WANT TO...


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I'm trying to envision you two in a 'Poultry Anonomous' meeting. 3:> 3:> 3:>

(just teasing, I'm a closet case, I'm sure...and i live with an Addictions counselor!)

LF(RJ)


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LOL, you live with a counselor so you would know this better then me. But I think you have to want to quit an addiction before you can get help LOL. ; )

CI


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Aloha,

The commercial laying hens are about as sad as the meat birds. The local egg factory will sell off "old" hens after they've laid for one or two years. At a dollar apiece that's a pretty cheap hen and a year or two isn't that old so we got a half dozen of them. I thought perhaps we could eat one or two and then keep a couple to lay eggs. Nope. They've been bred to lay eggs in a cage and they've lived in a cage their entire life and their claws were so curved they would get tangled in the chicken wire at the bottom of the cage. Even when they were put out on the ground, they didn't know how to walk to get to food. Unless I wanted to buy chicken feed to feed them and put it in their cage every day there wasn't any other way to keep those hens around to lay eggs. All those hens became soup - really tasty soup, too.

That was all several years ago, now we have hens which are chosen for the size and color of eggs they lay, how festive they look and how well they can take care of themselves. There are two americanas, a half-lakenvelder/half-americana, a cuckoo marans and a guinea hen. Tomorrow we should have some buff orphingtons, silver crested polish and appenzeller spitzhaubens hatching out in the incubator. That should make the flock more festive in color and we should have a few white eggs, too. Although at this moment, I am counting my chickens before they've hatched!

A hui hou,
Cathy


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RE: meat chickens are sad

Well, I got a new white rock yesterday. she keeps flying out of the pen. L I hope I didn't make a mistake just getting one. Before I have always gotten two or more at a time, and they kinda stayed together but this poor girl doesn't have any friends to hang with and the others from the established flock keep picking or her. Also she is used to free rangeing and even though I have a fenced in area of over 100 ft she is still seeing greener pastures LOL. We clipped her one wing last nite I hope that slows her down some.

Cathy, how long did you try to free range those commerical hens? just wondering.

See you soon

CI


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RE: meat chickens are sad

They now have meat birds bred for free range instead of cages.

I bought some Cobb broilers around 1972 and did not feed them. I allowed them to free range. They were the best birds I ever ate. They were all just fine. Mean however.

Here are some info on the new birds. Several places sell this type bird or the same one under their brand name.

http://www.cobb-vantress.com/Products/CobbSasso150.aspx

CobbSasso150
The natural choice

The CobbSasso150 is the natural choice for consumers interested in slower growing, colored chicken. The broilers robust health and well being are ideally suited to traditional, free range and organic farming as well as less intensive indoor production. The mating of a rustic brown female and white male give the broiler a distinctive look and excellent growth performance. The CobbSasso150 conforms to the genetic growth requirements of many established welfare accredited growing programs.

The CobbSasso150 offers:

Maximum average growth rate of 45gm/day
Ideal for certified, free range and organic systems
Excellent livability
Superior feed conversion
Carcass uniformity
Succulent taste

Here is a link that might be useful: meat bird


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