Dual purpose chickens and turkeys, what is the best set up?

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We have a small flock of 22 hens and a rooster, Araconas, Partridge Rocks, Silverlaced Wyandottes, and Buff Orpingtons. The rooster is an Aracona - blue egg laying breed. What I am trying to do is raise eggs for ourselves and to sell excess. I also want to increase my flock by allowing broody hens to hatch out chicks. I then want to have the cockerals processed for eating and keep the pullets for replacements or the Araconas to sell as layers - they are a bit of a novelty in this area and fetch more than regular layers.

We just had two cockerals processed that were 19 weeks old. I was a little surprised about how thin they look dressed. I realize they are not a meat breed but I also did not give them any special care. Meaning, I just let them run with the hens, at first I tried to give them a starter ration but my hens kept eating it, so I just kept with laying mash. I only have one coop and yard for the birds. It would be quite a bit of work and I would have to sacrafice a storage building that is full of garden stuff to get a second place.

I also really want to raise a couple turkeys for the holidays.

Does anyone have any ideas about a good set up, that gives the birds a good quality of life but is set up for the proper management of each type of bird?

-- Jennifer Hammerberg (jhammer@systime.com), January 23, 2002


We use chicken tractors. The one for my layers is 4 x 12 ft and holds 9 layers but could probably hold a few more, especially since I let them out for about 4 hours every day to free range. I also have another chicken tractor that is 4 x 8. The chicken tractors are easy to build and pretty cheap, not to mention flexiable. I move them weekly to a new spot. I am getting 10 turkeys later this year and plan to do something simular for them but on a larger scale.

-- Anita in NC (anitaholton@mindspring.com), January 23, 2002.

We free range, and that works for us. However, the only "dual purpose" breed that I have found worth raising is White Giants, and they are quite inferior to Rock Cornish crosses for meat birds. After many years of this, I grow Brown Leghorns purchased as chicks for eggs, and Cornish Rock crosses for meat, also purchased as chicks. I hatch some White Giants, keep the pullets, turn the old hens into soup, and keep the young roosters for ourselves. GL!

-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), January 23, 2002.

Jennifer, post this question on The Poultry Connection, lots of experts there and very nice people. Good luck, sound like you are having fun with your chickens. LQ

-- Little Quacker (carouselxing@juno.com), January 23, 2002.

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