raising meat birds organically

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I have been raising Cornish Crosses for years, thinking I was eating more healthy birds. But then noticed that I feed them Broiler starter and finisher, and they are full of stuff, that I would rather not use. (I am not a health nut, but would like to try) I was wondering if someone has feed small flocks on natural feed of their own making. Grasses, kitchen scraps etc. Normally these birds are butchered at 6-8 weeks, but that is with boughten food with high protein amounts. With a different diet, how much longer for butcher time? I have also heard that with these birds you HAVE to have it medicated, but could cider vinigar in their water the whole time be just as effiecent?

Any suggestions? Possible web sites for `how to' would be great.

thanks donna

ps. I am also looking for about a 1/2 dox Sabagetol goose eggs, would any one have some forsale?

-- donna Potts Walling (rwalling@greatnorthern.net), May 03, 2002


I just raised our first batch (after MUCH research!) and because of their specific feed requirements (from intense breeding) they won't do very well (leg problems, increased mortality) on home feed rations unless you could come up with a specific mix. You could use soybean meal for the protein, though, that would help.

As for needing antibiotics, we raised ours (in Chicken tractors) without any antibiotics at all. We also used certified organic feed (available in Canada -east and western and in Eastern WA in my area). Good luck! Amy

-- Amy Richards (amysgarden2@earthlink.net), May 03, 2002.

I have raised these birds for years and never used the medicated feed. If I had to feed medicated, I wouldn't raise them, as that is the reason I raise my own. We do feed goat's milk free choice as soon as they are old enough to not drown in it. That bumps the protein up. Our mill has an unmedicated starter that I use to begin with and slowly introduce some of our own home grown stuff. One year I ground my own in my flour mill, set on course grind, and that worked also. I didn't notice a great lengthening time in finishing them.

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), May 03, 2002.

There are several posts in the archives, bottom of main page that may be helpful. Do a search using Pearson's Square in google, A Pearson's Square is a simple way to calculate the protein content of various mixings, so that you can determine the protein content of your own feed mix.

-- BC (desertdweller44@yahoo.com), May 03, 2002.

Do you have somewhere you could have your own recipe mixed up? We have ours done. I can give you the recipe if you want. Have you ever heard of the Fertrell Company? I know they have a website. It is at: http://www.fertrell.com/ We use some of their natural products in our feed mix. We butcher ours at about 8 weeks. We have never used medicated feed. We were also told that you can't raise baby turkeys without medicated feed. We use our chicken feed for the turkeys as well. The only thing different we do is to give them some raw milk and put grass in their brooder as they forage earlier. They are very healthy and tasty!!

-- Marci in NE Ohio (Marci@amazinggrazefarm.com), May 03, 2002.


You are on the right track.

One thing that the majority of poultry raisers have forgotten is that chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians. To raise healthier chickens, your chickens should get meat fat and protein into their diets. Go to a health food store and ask if you can buy their meat scraps for about 50 cents a pound, or else pick up road kill to feed your chickens. Seriously, eating organic meats will help tremendously in raising healthy chickens. Your chickens will be healthier and taste better. Chickens seem to have no problems with rotten meat.

Also, don't give your chickens water from a metal container, the metal will get into the chicken and eggs (especially if sun shines on the containers) affecting the meat and eggs.

You should also avoid soy, even organic soy. Soy in its natural state is a type of poison. If you must use grain, a naturally utilizeable grain such as raw corn will be a lot better.


-- Rick7 (rick7@postmark.net), May 03, 2002.

I use a mixture of cracked corn, whole oats and soybean meal. They also free range for bugs and greens. When they are young, excess milk and chopped hard boiled eggs are good. Good luck!

-- cowgirlone in ok (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), May 03, 2002.

This might be the dumbest idea ever but we'll see what others have to say...if it's dumb I'm sure someone will let me know.....

Free range chickens get their protein from insects so why don't you try making one of these worm 'farms' that I keep seeing posts on? The worms will reproduce and you won't have to pay for your bird's protein other than the initial overhead of supplies and of course worms. I don't know if this is cost or labor effective or not but you would certainly be able to keep tabs on what your chickens are eating. You only feed the worms organic foods so the chickens only get organic protein! Maybe the chicken poo could even be included in the worm food--talk about the circle of life, no waste! And what could be better for organic chickens than organic worms?

OK, now let's see if this is a bad idea or not....anyone?

-- Erika (misserika129@hotmail.com), May 03, 2002.

Erika, my chickens sure love worms!!! I just don't think I could raise enough for them.

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), May 03, 2002.

Erika--we've been vermicomposting for about two years now, but this is our first year with chickens. The chickens LOVE my worms, and I have to practically beat my children to keep them out of my worms {grin}. . . the children love to feed the worms to the chickens.

I'm going to have to seriously step up my vermicomposting now that we have chickens--but, I'd have to get tubs and tubs and tubs of them to keep up with this hungry crowd and make it their main source of protein. Chickens are pigs. {lol}

-- Julie in NC (jwoessner@rtmx.net), May 03, 2002.

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