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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 7:57 am 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:16 pm
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Location: Lower E.P., S.A.
Does anyone know of an alternative to the Cornish X that would commercially viable on a small scale? I like the Freedom Ranger but they don't seem to be available in Australia.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:10 am 
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Showy Hen
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So you are looking at producing meat birds is that correct?
Why is an alternative to the cornish cross important? I would have thought that these lines are used commercially because they are the best suited to this purpose?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:15 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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Location: Tarago, near Goulburn
What is your aim? Obviously, you want to produce meat birds on a small-scale free-range scale. What age are you planning to process them? Who is your market, and what is your pitch?

I ask this deliberately, because I think it's going to be easier for you to produce your own crossbreed. I honestly don't think Australia has any commercial alternatives to the fat white meat birds - there are different varieties within them, but they're essentially identical, and all best designed for intensive production, to be killed at 8-12 weeks.

If you're after a slower-maturing bird with better flavour and suited to a free-range, crossing Indian Game (as Cornish is known in Australia) over a classicly good-tasting but slow-maturing bird such as Sussex, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Faverolles, or Dorking would definitely be worth trying.

The advantage of developing your own mix is that you don't have to buy in birds externally, which is far better for biosecurity reasons.

Note that to the best of my knowledge, ALL meat birds have Indian Game (Cornish) in them somewhere. It's where those plump breasts and short, plump drumsticks come from.

The description of the Freedom Ranger from your other thread (viewtopic.php?f=10&t=8012245&p=566889#p566889) says:

Quote:
they are a cross between 4 lines. The four grandparent lines have been selected for specific traits for many years and also the ability to combine these traits in the most desirable way.


I can guarantee one of those lines will be Indian Game. Another will probably be Plymouth Rock - intoChooks here is using the commercial meat birds in a program to develop the white Rock, as apparently it forms a significant part of our white meat breeds. Having a look at the photos on the Freedom Ranger site (http://www.freedomrangerhatchery.com/learnmore), I suggest there might be a bit of Orpington in there too. Beyond that, however, I'm just guessing.

Note that the white feathers are desirable because they don't leave dark pinfeathers on the skin when plucking, unlike other good eating breeds such as Australorp, Rhode Island Red, or dark-feathered Wyandotte. Us backyarders don't mind such things, but customers often get a bit squeamish about it.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:15 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 5:16 pm
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Location: Lower E.P., S.A.
Essentially I am looking to sell processed free range meat birds as a small side project while I am a stay at home mum. I have had a few lots of Cornish X and fed them on our own feed mix so they grow slower than the usual commercially produced birds. They are certainly tastier but I am looking for a bit more denser meat as I find the Cornish X still a lot like cotton wool unless they are killed a lot later but then they are massive and it wouldn't really be financially feasible. Ideally I would buy in day olds rather than breeding my own.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:35 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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Chookwomen, The options really are to buy the commercial meat day old chicks and grow them out ( which would struggle to freerange, more waddle about ) or breed your own by raising meat chicks during the cooler months ( they tend to drop dead when the temperature gets above 25 ) and use another breed rooster over the meat hens. I have done this. The meat cockerels were never able to catch and jump the hens, but I managed to keep some meat hens alive till they were 8 months old and crossed them to an Australorp rooster. I kept a few meat/Australorp roosters which are able to run and jump and live through the heat of summer. I have then crossed the roosters to my line of white wyandottes (which I have always used for spatchcock, 1.2kg's dressed at 12 weeks) and the offspring from these dress out at 1.5kg's for pullets and 1.8 kg's for cockerels at 12 weeks of age. They feather out early, so they are on grass by 4 weeks of age, white, flesh out nicely, and better flavour then the commercial meat birds raised in the same manner. But the best bit is if you want, the pullets can be kept for breeding and you can just eat the cockerels.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:44 pm 
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Golden Phoenix
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Joined: Fri Jan 05, 2007 10:39 am
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Location: Tarago, near Goulburn
ChookWoman wrote:
Essentially I am looking to sell processed free range meat birds as a small side project while I am a stay at home mum. I have had a few lots of Cornish X and fed them on our own feed mix so they grow slower than the usual commercially produced birds. They are certainly tastier but I am looking for a bit more denser meat as I find the Cornish X still a lot like cotton wool unless they are killed a lot later but then they are massive and it wouldn't really be financially feasible. Ideally I would buy in day olds rather than breeding my own.


Note that "Cornish X" isn't an Australian variety of meat bird that I'm aware of - I could be wrong, however. I've got the NSW DPI "Getting started in free-range poultry" AgGuide and it mentions three strains of meat birds - Cobb, Ross, and Arbour "breeds". They're all essentially identical. All references to "Cornish X" are on US sites and the birds you see there are the huge white birds that we know as "meat birds" in Australia.

"Cornish X" really just means "Cornish cross" - that is, a crossbreed with Cornish (Indian Game) in it. Pure Indian Game is excellent eating in its own right, and many people keep them specifically for that reason. They mature quite early (ie around 20 weeks) and have yellow legs, skin and fat, with dark feathers and shafts.

Indian Game is crossed with other birds to improve size, skin/flesh colour, or for various other reasons particular to the breeder. Any of these crosses will be called "Indian Game X" but that doesn't mean they're the same as the complex hybrid birds sold as meat breeders.

However, at this stage, I honestly don't believe anyone in Australia is commercially supplying any other meat variety other than the white things, I'm sorry.

From the AgGuide I mentioned above, these seem to be the commercially-available meat breeds in Australia:

"Big meat broiler" from Nulkaba Hatchery. http://www.poultryonline.com.au/broilers.htm
Cobb and Ross from Baida. http://www.baiada.com.au/operations/hatcheries.html (also supplied by Barter's in NSW).

There's also a company called "Broiler Breeders" in Victoria but I'll assume they've got the same sort of bird - fat, white, designed to get to full weight by 8-12 weeks of age.

If you're looking to run a poultry side-line as something to make money, I can really recommend this AgGuide. Wish I'd read it earlier. Really made me look at the realities of what I was trying to do and whether I really had the capacity to do what I was trying to do. (The answer is "yes, but with some changes"). You can see it here: http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/resou ... free-range. It covers both egglaying and meat production.

I'll keep an eye out for alternative meat breeds :)


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:48 am 
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Showy Hen
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Location: Lower E.P., S.A.
Thanks InfoAddict, you've been a great help.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:15 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Hello dvel
It seems that you have succeeded where many of us seem to fail dismally ... keeping a meat chicken alive long enough to breed.

Do your terminal crosses now breed true or do you always parent-cross meat/australorp roos to white dot hens?

I'm in Brisbane. If you do it by parent-cross, and if you're close, I'd be interested in buying a breeding group from you.
Or if you're too far and if the terminal crosses breeds true, is there a chance I could try some of your eggs?

I keep sussex, rocks and RIR. Nice birds but by comparison to commercial birds, slow at converting feed.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:27 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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your best option would be to buy in day old meat birds as you are wanting to make money out of the enterprise in SA their worth a dollar something, grow them out to however big you want them to be, the biggest problem is having a licensed premises to have the birds slaughted at, were i live we have one half an hour away and they charge $2 for a small meat bird and $3 for a large bird. good luck :)


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 1:30 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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and you will have more success with the commercial meat birds in the warmer months


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 2:42 pm 
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Proud Rooster
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Thanks for the feedback poultry man.

That is exactly what we do at present ... and only for our own consumption ... a freezerful at a time ... not for profit

But every time we do, I try slowing down a few, enough to get one of either sex to reach maturity, and fail dismally.
They only keep up with free ranging for a few weeks ... then start getting disinterested ... walk a few steps and lie down.
By 12 weeks they're obese, and heading for the freezer.

The commercial `spec' is efficient and economical.
I've tried to tap into it, to add some backyard poultry values and decency.
It seems that dvel has succeeded in breeding such a cross between the good qualities of a `Steggles' chook and those of lorps and dots.
Good big birds but slow developers.

So in development terms he's crossed a formula 1 with a steamroller.
I hope that what he's doing is repeatable, and that he reads this, because I'm dying for him to let me try it out.
If his terminal cross is now breeding true for its purpose, other breeders would be interested.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:45 pm 
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Dapper Duck
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it would be gd if you could get your hands on the parent stock of the commercial meat birds as these are smaller than their off spring.
there is a table in this website that shows how breeding works: http://www.chicken.org.au/page.php?id=5


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 01, 2012 6:27 pm 
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Prime Pekin
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Hi.

i have used meat chicks to infuse size into white rocks.


here is a photo of first sire:

Image

He fathered many offspirng, females were more to type of what i was looking for, males have still a way to go but are improving.

these birds dress out at least 1.7 kg dressed.

Cheers

Christian

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:43 am 
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Proud Rooster
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Hello Christian

I take it they have more efficient feed conversion and earlier development than pure rocks?
I only have db rocks. White rock makes more sense for a meat bird.
Not close to Brisbane by any chance are you?

Bob

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 5:52 am 
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Prime Pekin
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hi,

I am south of Brisbane, i currently have numbers down but their is a cock bird who is huge i was going to eat in a few weeks, if i still have him I will PM you. If not i will have plenty of chcikc coming out this year.

Cheers

Christian

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