The other day on "the facebook" a couple of us were comparing the progress of our meats. Several of us were moving them outside and into freedom. Since a bunch of us took advantage of Meyer's superduper meat chick sale we all have meats that are about the same age. It's fun to see everyone's meat progress.
I've been teaching mine to go outside. This is a huge step in a creepy meat's life. It's a scary world out there fraught with danger. And steps. It took a while for the meats to take that one big leap into freedom. As Bugs Bunny would say, "Watch out for that first step, Mac! It's a looloo!"
The meat finally took that leap and ended up on the ground. They thought it was awesome.
These meats spend the first full day outside a few days ago when we were having warmer weather. They were pecking around with the other hennies. It was a little overwhelming and they were exhausted from their first day of freedom.
When they say me coming for evening chores they all heaped into the meat coop and dramatically threw themselves down into their feeder. It was a little sad. Then I went around and collected all the loose meats and herded them back into their coop. We had several more mild days last week and they loved it. However, its currently snowing (!!!!) so they are inside. Maybe next week they can get outside again.
Now, you need to supervise your meats. You can't just let them fly free as they are kinda stupid and extremely vulnerable. At first I only let them out for a few minutes when the other chickens were still cooped up. As a very wise woman once said, "Its a chicken eat chicken world out there." And yes your "normal" hens will attack and kill a helpless meat chicken. So I gradually let them out for longer periods of time and only when they are about as big as my smallest laying hen. You have to give your meats a fighting chance.
And don't let any harm befall them. Or let them out in the bad weather. Secure your yard before you shove your meat outside. Before I let them out I went around and made sure there were no water buckets around where they might fall in and drown, I gated the hen yard so they couldn't get far, and Dahli "The Chicken Stomper" has been incarcerated for a couple days now.
I hung around outside watching them to make sure they could hold their own against the other chickens. Fortunately they are still too immature to ensnare the rooster's affections. It also helped that Kai and Zander were in the dog yard where they could see the meats toddling around and alert me if anything was swooping in from the sky to make off with my meats. My pals over at Tilton Hollow put their meats in a beautiful hoop house - which is a great way to make sure your meat is safe.
Happy Saturday everyone! Is your meat loose today? Perhaps I should rephrase.... Is anyone else letting their meat run free today? Dang. That's not right either..... How about, "Is anyone free ranging your meat chickens?"
I cannot imagine having meaties in snow country. I was always able to let mine range from the start. Although we had to protect them from hawks. I often have a broody raise them for me. I miss having chickens around.
We raise our Cornish x outside fron three weeks - so much healthier and happier! Www.synergisticacres.com
I don't think my meats even know how to scratch. They go from the heat lamp to the feeder. There are all kinds of greens and chickweed galore and all they do is trample it on their way back and forth. I think I may put a couple banties in once the meat meets its destiny to scratch around the mess from the meat.
Actually, HS, we think winter meats are easier. We find its easier to keep them warm than fight the heat in the summer. So this really works. And they are such rolly-polly fatties that once they get feathered in they seem to do ok.
Hi Hamons! Yep we love to get them outside. Right now we dont have a yard just for them - unlike last year. So we keep them in until they are big enough to hold their own against the "real" chickens. Great work on your blog and your business!
JJJ - yeah mine seem to peck around... but not so much with the scratching. Arent they funny little creatures?
For now I shall live vicariously through you. Looks good!
My hens have a fenced in garden area, and had a hawk swooping down 2 days ago. They all went and stood between the berry bushes, smart girls! As it was late in the day, I put them back in the big coop. We added a recycled "sun room" which is good for bad winter weather. They love that when it rains!
Thanks Dave! Vicariously is good - they are pretty stinky for sure!
Look out for those hawks, Nancy! We lost a hen earlier in the summer. And what a waste - it only ate the head and neck. No one was happy but that hawk!
Re: they are pretty stinky for sure!
Have you tried fermenting their feed? The minerals and protein are more readily available, they eat less feed, the stink nearly disappears. Also, no more watery poo, after a few days or a week, it firms up like normal chicken poo.
BTW, I sent you an email a month or so ago about using your cattle panel hoop pens(modified) for my new chickens. Don't know if you got it, but thanks for the idea anyway.
hey CB! i dont see a way to contact you ... no! i sure didnt get your email! will you resend? plz use
ohiofarmG -- thats just "G" not "girl" -- @google.
there is a similar email out there for someone else. and unfortunately she wont tell you that your email was misdirected. :-(
i'd love to see your hoop house! as for fermenting, my pal Freemotion is the queen of fermenting. i have not given it much of a try other than to soak their feed in milk.
Our have free-ranged from about 3 days. Of course, they didn't go far from the room and heat lamp at first, but they slowly started ranging. Mine typically go further than my lazy laying breeds and can often be found about half a mile down the field. Of course, I kept them on somewhat of a diet, and they didn't grow to 8lbs at 9 weeks either. Of course, I haven't had ANY of the health issues that others talk about being common with them (leg or heart issues). The leg meat was just slightly tougher than store bought leg quarters, and there wasn't as much of it. They actually tasted like something too, unlike store meat. Mine are currently at six months old and the hens are laying eggs. Roosters mature later, mine still has no interest in ladies or crowing, but my hefty leghorn roo has been taking care of them. Some eggs are in the incubator now to see what a leghorn/cornish cross produces. :)
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