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PostPosted: Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:31 pm 
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Gallant Game
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***EDITED TO ADD: You may wish to scroll down this thread a little to get to the nitty gritty of it. It appears that what I thought were Cobb 500 meat chicks may have been none of the sort. A good case of "Buyer Beware". So you can save yourself the initial ramble, and my excessive bragging, and go straight to the bit where I eat humble pie! (Also changed the title to something more appropriate.)*** :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

I have been growing on ten Cobb 500 meat chickens obtained as day olds. They are 6 weeks old now and the largest one weighs 500 g. They are all male. They will need further growing on and bulking up before butchering.

I was told it was impossible to raise these beyond 6 to 8 weeks without them dropping dead. I have purposely raised them lean so as to give them extended life, improved flavour to the meat and prevent those awful mortality issues usually encountered by 6 weeks.

They have been on standard pullet (not meat) chick starter for 4 weeks then on to standard pullet grower (not meat) since then, off artificial light and heat by 4 weeks and free ranged since then, with natural day/night cycle. They are as healthy and happy as any other chicks their age, quite mobile and sprightly, happily exploring their environment and running around. They do not sit slavishly at their food dish barely able to move.

Can simply a change of diet from meatline to pullet feed and a little free ranging really make such a huge difference? What on earth is in the meatline starter/grower to make them bulk out so fast?

These same birds if force fed high protein food in a meat factory would weigh 2 kg by now, 10% would have died of heart attacks, obesity and organ failure or their legs would have given out under their own weight. They would barely be able to waddle from the feeder to the waterer and back, lying around in their own faeces in litter that hasn't been changed for their entire 6 week life, then off to the butcher's to be processed into supermarket and fast food chicken! In the typical meat factories by six weeks of age they would have as much room each as an A4 peice of paper to move around! They are raised in giant sheds in batches of 26,000 at a time with lights kept on 24/7 so they constantly eat/sleep/eat.

These ones I have should make for healthy sustainable tastier meat or possible breeding stock to cross to other breeds as adults (if they survive that long). (They may eventually get obese and unhealthy no matter what, due to their genetics. I'm not sure, this is my first go at this).

So people lament the need for different breeds for meat that are more capable of free ranging and living longer etc., but all I have done is feed them different food and change their living environment a little in order to achieve that outcome (so far anyway).

Will they eventually inevitably become obese and drop dead anyway? Have I just delayed this? Alternatively, will they grow up lean on pullet feed and never attain to a meaty carcass? Of course I could start feeding them high protein feed from now on in order to obtain a better carcass. But should I?

Funny thing is that my Sussex cross that is the same age is 680 g on the same pullet feed (the Cobb only weigh 500g - and that's the biggest one)!

Also, whenever I have raised other breed cockerels and then culled for meat, I have always raised them on pullet feed, not meat bird feed. So how much is really about the genetics and how much is it about the feed? These Cobbs I have are far from the frankenchickens so often observed and described.

Any thoughts or comments people?

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Last edited by Mountain Langshans on Tue Jan 24, 2017 3:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:55 am 
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Wise Wyandotte
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I wonder if yours really are Cobbs. They seem way too small even on a moderate diet?

I also think your nightmare scenarios of commercial production are overstated. Yes we don't like the practice but a commercial producer strives for minimal losses and good hygiene. Sorry but 10% dead, others disabled and laying in faeces is not normal practice.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 2:23 pm 
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andrewschooks wrote:
I wonder if yours really are Cobbs. They seem way too small even on a moderate diet?

I also think your nightmare scenarios of commercial production are overstated. Yes we don't like the practice but a commercial producer strives for minimal losses and good hygiene. Sorry but 10% dead, others disabled and laying in faeces is not normal practice.

Thanks, I appreciate your response.

I am pretty sure they are genuine Cobbs. I didn't collect them direct from the hatchery, I went through a third party, but unless they are lying through their teeth, then they attest to them being from a hatchery I am familiar with. They bought a big batch that was too many for them so they were selling off the excess in small lots. They look like genuine Cobbs to me. I have observed Cobbs being raised in intensive farming setups so I know what they look like.

Also, because I have observed first-hand the process of raising meat chickens in a commercial intensive management setup from chick to butchering I feel qualified to comment on this: they fill the shed with wood shavings before the chicks arrive. At first the chicks have plenty of room to move but by week 6 or so they are practically shoulder to shoulder. The litter is not changed the entire time and is riddled with faeces and stinks of ammonia by the end. By week six the birds are too heavy and can barely move around. The sheds are checked daily for the mounting dead. I have discovered discarded birds presumed dead, thrown into large industrial bins, still flapping around later alive, but left to die anyway (or be disposed of with the rest of the garbage when the compactor truck arrives). This is because their legs have given out or perhaps they appeared dead from organ failure or heart attack. Of course many other ones actually are dead and are removed from the shed daily. I think 10% dead would be about accurate. Some “conscientious” producers may get it down to 6%.

Don’t be misled or hoodwinked by the spin from the big producers: the chicken that stocks our supermarket shelves and supplied to the fast food giants really are gross, stinking, salmonella ridden, antibiotic fed, sick, lame, overfed footballs on legs. The so called “free-range” are not much better. They may get a chance to see daylight and roam 3 metres from the shed to the fence, but because they are barely able to move around they rarely manage to take advantage of their limited freedom. All other factors remain the same as for the intensive shed (“barn”) system.

Yeah, so I was quite surprised that there could be so much difference in the outcome with my meat chicks. Especially since I read everywhere on the internet how the breed genetics are an abomination, and that people are refusing to raise them at home for reasons previously stated. My consternation at my vastly differing outcome has left me wondering as to some external issue such as illness, or whether they are genuine Cobbs. But they are as healthy as can be and I’m satisfied they are the real deal. However, I can’t find any information on the internet about people’s experiences raising commercial Cornish cross birds on a different feeding and management routine. It’s a no brainer to me that if you keep chicks under artificial heat and light 24/7 for 6 weeks on high protein feed of course they will be obese. But does anyone think to change that management practice by much when raising them at home or on an organic farm? Maybe they do. Perhaps I’ve just got some freaky weird thing going on unique to my case. I don’t know… just reporting my findings.

Any other comments?

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 3:26 pm 
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Everybody loves a picture, so here are some I took of the Cobb 500 meat chicks at 6 weeks old, raised lean on pullet feed, free ranged and weighing 500 g (as per posts above):

Image

Image

Image

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 4:44 pm 
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They don't have the heavy bone or slowish feathering of the Cobbs. I'd expect those traits to. E still expressed under a restriction diet. I wonder if your friend has 'acquired ' one of the parent or grandparent Cobb lines. They're usually tightly held and not as extreme as the hybrid progeny.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:24 pm 
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andrewschooks wrote:
They don't have the heavy bone or slowish feathering of the Cobbs. I'd expect those traits to. E still expressed under a restriction diet. I wonder if your friend has 'acquired ' one of the parent or grandparent Cobb lines. They're usually tightly held and not as extreme as the hybrid progeny.

Yes, you may be right, I'm beginning to wonder. It could explain things a lot. I suppose in that case that my original aim to grow on some commercial Cornish cross to reproductive age to use as an out-cross in my flock just may be possible (although a single parent or grandparent line crossed to other normal fowls may not produce any outstanding results). I'll see if I can clarify further with the guy I got them from. However when I got them I quizzed him on what kind of Cobb they were (there are several types) and his response at the time was "Cobb 500".

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:23 pm 
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OK, so I thought some more photos for comparison might be useful.

Here is a purebred Indian Game female hatched around the same time and raised under the same conditions and feed. She is larger and heavier at 790 grams (I weighed a second Cobb chick today and it was 540 grams):

Image

Another picture of the same bird:

Image

And here is a blue laced dark Indian Game male chick hatched a day or two later and he is smaller, about the same size as the Cobb birds and weighs 630 grams:

Image

The original Cobb chick I weighed a few days ago was 500 grams then. Most of the other Cobb chicks appear slightly smaller (I haven't weighed every single one of them).

Also, although the Cobb chicks legs and feet are generally yellow, a few of them have slight melanisation (black tint) causing a slight willow (green) tint to the otherwise yellow leg/foot colour.

So the plot thickens! Are these really Cobb 500's at all? Hmmmm... :dontknow

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:31 pm 
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Interesting results you're getting. Even with a restricted diet, the people I've seen growing Cobb's for meat at home have ended up with far bigger birds than yours at this stage. Of course not on par with broiler birds, but much bigger than 500g.

Their aim was the same as yours, to extend their life, reduce suffering etc. Some notes I can can remember people making is that in general the birds as they got older just didn't have the same energy levels as other chickens, while not obese and monstrous as broiler birds, they didn't spend nearly as much time wandering and pecking as other chicks. More cat like than dog like I guess, lol. Perfectly healthy and content though, although I'd imagine their overall lifespan would be short even if given a chance to live like a normal chicken.

Do you have a rough idea of their daily feed consumption? If you haven't already seen it, it might be interesting to compare to Cobb's performance objectives for the Cobb500. http://www.cobb-vantress.com/docs/defau ... lement.pdf

Unless you were near starving them which I can't imagine you would, it does seem like something is a little off, and perhaps they aren't Cobb500's as Andrew has speculated.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 6:59 pm 
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Azira wrote:
Interesting results you're getting. Even with a restricted diet, the people I've seen growing Cobb's for meat at home have ended up with far bigger birds than yours at this stage. Of course not on par with broiler birds, but much bigger than 500g.

Their aim was the same as yours, to extend their life, reduce suffering etc. Some notes I can can remember people making is that in general the birds as they got older just didn't have the same energy levels as other chickens, while not obese and monstrous as broiler birds, they didn't spend nearly as much time wandering and pecking as other chicks. More cat like than dog like I guess, lol. Perfectly healthy and content though, although I'd imagine their overall lifespan would be short even if given a chance to live like a normal chicken.

Do you have a rough idea of their daily feed consumption? If you haven't already seen it, it might be interesting to compare to Cobb's performance objectives for the Cobb500. http://www.cobb-vantress.com/docs/defau ... lement.pdf

Unless you were near starving them which I can't imagine you would, it does seem like something is a little off, and perhaps they aren't Cobb500's as Andrew has speculated.

OK, thanks for your response.

It now seems almost certain then that they are not regular Cobb 500 or similar at all, so I wonder what they are. I have contacted the seller to clarify but waiting on a response. (Maybe he doesn't want to give up the game, lol).

They have had continual access to feed, no restrictions, and they are in with a range of other chicks of similar age so it would be near impossible to estimate their feed consumption.

They have pure white feathers, mostly yellow legs (a few have whiter shade of yellow and a few slightly willow legs). They do appear to generally have a modified Cornish/Indian Game look to them, perhaps what you might expect if you crossed white Cornish to something else white like Plymouth Rock. They have single serrated combs and appear to be all male which would suggest some sort of feather sexing in the hatchery. They are not particularly large or lumbering although in the pictures above you can see a fair similarity with the Indian Game (those Indian Game, especially the female have that typical heavy nuggety muscular feel that the white chicks simply don't have - same conditions and feed). Maybe they are all the "spare" male parent or grandparent lines from the hatchery that were otherwise being destroyed, that someone "sneaked" out home, or were allowed to take home.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 7:16 pm 
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So, if these white chicks were a parent or grandparent line of the 4-way hybrid process that leads to the final terminal hybrid meat chick then could they be put to good use in a home breeding program? :?:

My guess is that they are possibly still what is considered a Cornish/Rock cross, as they say. Or possibly just the Rock side of the equation? :dontknow

However, if their growth rate is generally less impressive than my Indian Game, Sussex crosses, RIR etc then is there much to be gained using them to breed from? :aaargh:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 8:39 pm 
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It'll be interesting to hear what the breeder says about it, hopefully they won't try to palm you off or just say it's the food they are getting or somesuch.

I guess you could keep one to do a test breed to see if their offspring inherit any of the traits they are supposed to have. But I tend to agree with you that given their 'performance' so far, I'm not sure it's worth adding them to your own breeding program given you've got out-performing birds of other breeds.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:47 pm 
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If the growth rate is less than an Indian Game, frankly I can't see much role for them in breeding. Indian games are meat birds but have not been exposed to the intense selection pressure for growth that any of the Cobb family will have. If these birds don't beat a IG, then why bother?


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:05 am 
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So I've had a response from the seller. He claims a "friend" got them from HiChick Hatchery, north of Adelaide. The "friend" kept so many for himself and handed the spares on to him to sell (a good way to pass the buck and avoid ultimate responsibility). He had about 50 to sell. I bought ten of them. He said he was told "by the hatchery" that they were Cobb 500. Then he added a sheepish "What needs to be done to keep you happy". :roll: I told him I wasn't really upset just curious at the outcome.

I only paid $12 for ten chicks ($1.20 per chick) so it's hardly a financial crisis even if it is a rip off. Now that I think about it I think I've been had! I didn't know the guy, just an ad on Gumtree. If I think about the growth rate of these chicks it is quite possible that they are possibly even the male off-casts of egg laying hybrids or commercial leghorn based layers. And here I was thinking I had somehow achieved some amazing feat of brilliance with my rearing techniques. Oh, well... :think:

I forgot my own adage: never trust anything you see on Gumtree as necessarily being legit (half the sellers use photos pulled from the internet and claim pure breeding when it's none of the sort). :doh

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:15 am 
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It would be interesting to grow a couple out and post photos for a 'Guess the Breed'


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:30 am 
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'If' they are from a commercial hatchery, they may indeed be males left over from their layer hybrids. They have a bit of a Rhode Island White hybrid look to me.


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