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Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

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Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#1  Unread postby GBov » Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:20 pm


So they are now about 16 weeks old and still the size of the 18 week old egg birds.

They get as much food as they can eat in about an hour, twice a day and are on fresh grass every other day.

Why are my meat birds thin and disappointing?

Every other animal on the place is fat as a house but this is the second time I have tried meat birds and been really not impressed with them. Glad I only got 10 from the feed store, if I was struggling this hard to raise 25 or 50 of them I would be going mental.

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#2  Unread postby alforddm » Wed Jun 13, 2018 6:33 am


If your still feeding fermented, my guess would be not enough protein.

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#3  Unread postby GBov » Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:26 pm


I thought that might be the problem so for four weeks I had them on 21% organic duck grower - fermented - and it didn't seem to make any difference.

As times have gotten even tighter, they are on fermented "conventional" scratch and scraps right now and have been for two weeks.

Once I got them to adult size, the duck grower made the quail obese, like, total lardballs. So much so that I scalded them so as to not lose any of it. Mmmmmmm stuffed, roasted, shockingly fat quail? Unbelievably good!

So why these 7 remaining chickens are scrawny is wrecking my head, it really is. They are active, can fly despite their deformed body shape, leap about the tractor when they see me coming, eat the fresh weeds and their food like there is no tomorrow and are the ugliest, scrawniest chickens I have ever raised. And I have been raising chickens for over 30 years now.

__________ Wed Jun 13, 2018 2:26 pm __________

Today, I put a larger feed pan in and filled it to the brim. I will have food in front of them all day long and see if that does the job.

All I want is chicken that tastes like chicken. My home hatched roosters taste fantastic but I was raised on cheap chicken and my roosters don't taste like chicken. :lol:

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#4  Unread postby Deer Heart » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:09 pm


I'm assuming they're cornish cross? Not really meant for anything but being crowded in front of regular 20% (or more) 24/7. The mistake is only feeding 2x a day with them. They were bred to eat day and night nonstop and pack all of that on rapidly until they can't walk under their own weight. They were never created for grazing (that's red rangers, etc. Which doesn't sound like what you wanted). Cornish cross are all about massive feed conversion and getting them to eat non-stop until it's time to cull. Anything fancy and they don't pack it on the same way. If they can fly or walk around then they're burning off what you fed them, which is nowhere near enough. There's a reason I wont do cornish crosses. By the end of my first attempt, a flock of just 12 went through a 50# bag of feed like it was nothing.
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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#5  Unread postby GBov » Wed Jun 13, 2018 4:52 pm


Thank you Deer Heart, that is what I decided today. Their food dish will remain full - risking bear attack :roll: - and they will be eaten in 4 weeks, no matter what size they have reached by then. :twisted:

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#6  Unread postby Deer Heart » Thu Jun 14, 2018 7:42 pm


lol, I lived right on the border of the ocala national forest for nearly 10 years so I feel your pain. Black bears were my neighbors - even when I had the cornish x. They go after the birds themselves often enough, feed or no feed. At least they mostly stay away in the summer. It's fall/winter they start destroying everything looking for food, at least where I was, so you picked a really good time for it honestly.
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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#7  Unread postby akane » Fri Jun 15, 2018 1:29 am


Meat chickens really are bred for artificial conditions and high protein commercial poultry diets. They just won't perform like normal chickens or use the same feed. If you want to keep them alive longer you restrict daily feed, feed less protein, and get some ugly but longer lived, skinnier birds instead of killing themselves off in their own rapid weight gain but aside from a few pet owners and those that want to "save" the meat chickens to have a better life that is utterly pointless.
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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#8  Unread postby GBov » Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:42 am


Is there a middle ground in chickens? Something that is natural enough still to be a chicken but meat bird enough to have a decent amount of breast meat? My boys love white meat chicken, for some reason.

Oh my word, they are seriously ugly chicken, aren't they? :shock:

And how funny, we are in the Ocala Forest now! We have two dogs that so far have kept the bears out of the yard. They have a special bark for bear so we always know when one is prowling the fenceline.

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#9  Unread postby MaggieJ » Fri Jun 15, 2018 2:01 pm


I'm not recommending these, but the name stuck in my mind. I've heard Freedom Rangers are an alternative to Cornish cross for people who want meat birds. You'll want to do a little research, GBov, before you give them a try.

https://www.freedomrangerhatchery.com/d ... &Product=1

I think by now you'll find they are available from many hatcheries.
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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#10  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Fri Jun 15, 2018 5:14 pm


its kind of been mentioned above, but cornish x meat chickens, [and any other fast growing meat chicken] need a high protein 16% +, and a high energy ration , for chickens it is usually corn based, with added fat.
meat-mutt rabbits, a few laying hens.

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#11  Unread postby GBov » Fri Jun 15, 2018 6:14 pm


It is funny, now they have food in front of them all the time, they hardly seem to eat. They are far more interested in the styrofoam cover to their tractor than in the feed. :roll:

Freedom rangers I have heard about but no one I know has ever had them. Perhaps next time.

Or not.

Maybe I will just get over my problem eating hens and all will be well on the chicken front. :lol:

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#12  Unread postby akane » Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:27 am


Chickens love styrofoam and will eat it to the exclusions of everything. Ask anyone who left their styrofoam incubators to bake in the sun within chicken reach. They don't have those particular ones anymore.... String and styrofoam are 2 things chickens cannot resist.

There are lots of dual purpose breeds meant to be more meat than layers while still foraging well. Some really old breeds and some newer ones purposely bred for modern conditions. I had a very nice mix of penedesenca x welsummer x maran someone had left to breed free range on their farm until it made a "barnyard mix" with consistently near black eggs, huge adult birds, and a fair growth rate.
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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#13  Unread postby michaels4gardens » Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:22 am


I have found that when raising "meat chickens" -- I have to decide how i am going to raise them before i get the chicks. - If i am going to raise them on scraps, weeds, and pasture-- I get a "duel purpose" breed or cross, that will be OK if let live and grow for more than 8 weeks designed into the cornish cross "fryer crosses", or the 12 weeks designed into the "roaster" crosses. -There are [at least] two distinct crosses in the "cornish cross" meat birds. If i am going to feed "chicken feed" I get the cornish cross designed for my purpose.--- I also sometimes raise "dual purpose" roosters [the extra males from hatching eggs for laying hens] on chicken feed- but,- i realize that it will be much more expensive/ lb of meat to raise those "meat chickens" , than it would be to raise the cornish cross.
meat-mutt rabbits, a few laying hens.

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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#14  Unread postby Deer Heart » Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:37 pm


GBov wrote:Is there a middle ground in chickens? Something that is natural enough still to be a chicken but meat bird enough to have a decent amount of breast meat? My boys love white meat chicken, for some reason.

Oh my word, they are seriously ugly chicken, aren't they? :shock:

And how funny, we are in the Ocala Forest now! We have two dogs that so far have kept the bears out of the yard. They have a special bark for bear so we always know when one is prowling the fenceline.


You woulda been my neighbor about 2 yrs ago, lol. That's crazy. I lived down the road by the Dollar general near forest corners(where the winndixie and kangaroo are) for about 10 years.

Regarding freedom Rangers, there's a lady at the market of marion that frequently sells freedom rangers I think, but you can order them online and have them mailed to your closest post office branch (depends on your zip code). I had to drive all the way to the Post office by the Silver springs water park for mine because that was the Post office for that zip code.
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Re: Meat Chickens Not Gaining Weight?

Post Number:#15  Unread postby GBov » Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:03 pm


OMG how funny is that Deer Heart, we live only 4 miles - at the MOST - from that dollar general!

Of course, now that we have our court date to get permission to move, perhaps soon we will be 4,258 miles from it. :lol:

Chickens LOVE styrofoam UNLESS you want them to eat it. My dog made a blizzard out of the stuff a few weeks ago and I thought the chickens would clean it all up for me. Wrong! My chickens only want it in its pristine state, one solid slab to pick at..........all......day.......loooooong. :evil:

As we have been waiting for over a year to get to court, I suddenly realized that we could be free as the birds in 11 weeks when/if we win, and there are 12 chickens to be eaten, we are picking up two bartered for Julian (I think that is the spelling, sows, both of them) pigs for the freezer next weekend and oh my GODS, how is there suddenly so much to do!?! :shock:

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