We are raising chickens for meat as well as eggs. Being in the early stages of this new adventure our current operation is meant to supply ourselves, friends and family.
Our meat birds are of many varieties of heritage breeds and heritage crosses. We were blessed to connect early on with a local heritage breeder and have worked out a deal to take all the birds she culls. She is breeding for very select traits and has a very narrow standard, this being so there are many birds who do not make the cut but are perfectly healthy animals. About once a month Luanne contacts me with a list of what is available, usually birds from 3-6 weeks old. This arrangement works out well for her because she gets ready of what she doesn't need easily and it works out well for us because we get healthy well started birds cheaper than you could purchase a day old chick.
To date we have raised purebreds and crosses of ; Delawares, Welsummers, Wheaton Americanas, Marans, Barred Rocks, Orpingtons, New Hampshires, and Wyandottes. It is interesting to watch the differences in how they mature. The Barred Rocks in particular seem to lag behind and then catch up all of a sudden. None of these birds attain market weight anywhere near as fast as the mutant cornish crosses and therefore do require more feed. This may not be a sustainable commercial way of raising meat birds but, I have serious reservations about the mutant chickens that are the standard. The meat from the birds we are raising is much richer and has a much better quality than any I have eaten from cafo birds.
Our mobile grow out chicken tractors are 8x8 ( I know this is smaller than the standard 10x12 tractors of Polyface but we don't run as many birds in them and they are easier for me to move), have lawnmower tires, automatic bell waterers and are enclosed on one end with light colored corrugated plastic roofing for wind, rain and sun protection.