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So we sent our first 30 broilers off to Freezer camp using the new equipment we got/made. All worked pretty well, some better than others and I definitely seen some things I am going to do different next month when we have 75 more to go. I got 15 Cornish Rocks and 15 Red Rangers. I did not have a tractor to pen them separately, so they all got raised together, which means they all got feed only 1/2 the day in order to ensure the Cornish did not overeat and die. I think that was a mistake as my Red Rangers were a bit disappointing. After 10 1/2 weeks my Cornish were in the 7# to 8# range and my Red Rangers were only 3.5# to 5#, much smaller than the Cornish. I have this next group separated and will be feeding them differently, hopefully will have better results with the RR this time. I can say, the CR were not as difficult to keep alive as I was told. We had them in the hottest part of the summer and only lost one as a chick, and one I squished with the tractor when moving it. One did get where it would not stand a few days before were were ready to butcher, so it got done early. I did not intend to keep them the extra few weeks, but things happened where I just did not get to them at 6 to 8 weeks as I had planned. Anyway, on with the pictures now.
 

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Here is my scalding setup. I did make the S.S. water tank and it holds about 35 gallons. I made it with a round bottom with the intention of adding a motorized rotating dunker later. This was a rush job as I did not get it finished. I will also add some legs to get it a little higher and some S.S. heat barriers in place of the tin I have propped up beside it in the picture. I have two burners below it and it took about 20 minutes to get up to temp (140) and then held it there surprisingly well. We did have to add water a few times to cool it down, but no big deal. I probably would have spent the money for a automatic thermostat if I would have had the time to finish this piece, and may still, but to be honest it was not that difficult to adjust the gas flow to stay at the right temp. so I do not really see it as a necessity, more of an added convenience. If I had someone to just do the scalding who could watch the temp. it would not be needed at all.
 

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And of course my homemade Whizbang plucker. Without this it would not have happened. I had never had one before, but I can tell you, it made all the difference in the world and I would never consider doing any number of chickens again without one. It really is just hard to explain how easy this makes the whole process. All of the feathers (except for a few stragglers) ended up in the basket and could simply be carried out and dumped on the compost pile. If you ever use one, make sure you put it somewhere where the water can run off, you will use a good bit of water with one of these and it will be wet all over, by the time you are done.
 

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I cut corners on these cones and ordered all 4 from ebay (the cheapest I found). They were to small for the Cornish. The Rangers did ok, but many of the CR I had to take out to do, because their breast would hit and their heads would not even reach the hole in the bottom of the cone. Do not fool yourself, chickens will not willingly poke their head out the bottom. I intend to cut these off a few inches or make some S.S. ones for next time if I have time. I also do not like the buckets down below as the blood tended to get all over anyway. I intend to make a round mount with a splash guard around it and a better containment underneath. (Maybe this winter??) This was a last minute construction project also, so just a simple frame to mount the cones, it works, but not really ideal.
 

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Here are some of my Campers, all ready to go. All I can say is they were impressive. For anyone who has ever raised barnyard chickens or butchered some old roosters and been disappointed, before you give up on home raised chicken, try some of the Cornish Rocks. I have raised roosters and I have butchered older hens in the past, this is not the same thing at all. I did not have the issues with them dying from overeating or getting to hot, as I have read that some have, maybe beginners luck, IDK?? We gave them feed in the evening, so that by the next morning it was all gone. Actually it was gone before they went to sleep I think, they are voracious eaters. They take ALOT of water also. I did not find the huge gall bladders that some have reported either. I think much of this comes from the fact they were not overfed and we did move the tractors around, so they had some grass also. All I can say is, I did not find them to be the Franken-Chickens they are sometimes made out to be. I will be raising more and I will certainly be raising them, if I decide to sell chicken to some of my produce and pork customers.
 

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So here was the basic setup. We did the cleaning and processing under the carport at the shop. I placed the dirty/wet part out in the drive. The scalder, just seemed safer out and away from everyone. The kill cones made a mess, so you do not want them close to anything. The plucker is WET, so it is best used where the water can drain away without making a mess. Good thing we set up to do the cleaning under the lights as this day did not get over until about midnight as we got a late start. BTW, we scalded, plucked and put on ice water. I then gutted and put in different ice water, when they were all done we put them in the cooler until the next day, then we cut and packaged them. This seemed to work well as the next day when they were good and cold they were easy to cut up and handle. I have a small freezer with a cooler control I added so I can keep it at about 35 to 40 degrees, just like a fridge, which works very well.
 

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Here is my S.S. table that I bought on C.L. used. I intend to make a S.S. bottom for it later, but for this time the 2x4 stand was much quicker and honestly worked just as well. This was well worth the money, it has a sink in one end. I think I gave $200.00 for it on C.L., but to be honest if you look on ebay you can get some a built smaller without the splash guards for not much more new. Probably thinner, but a good clean work surface, which you can sanitize is a necessity in my opinion.
 

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Here is the sink and also one of the Rangers, as I said I was a bit disappointed! I will post a picture of one of the CR later so you can see the difference. The RR averaged about 1/2 to 3/4 pound of breast meat per bird including the tenders. You can also see in this picture the lung tool I got from Cornerstone Farms online. This tool was worth the money at about $20.00 or so, my kids were able to use this with no problems. The spray nozzle is also from them. I was less impressed with it, it was expensive at about $50.00 and it is a 1 purpose tool. It works well for cleaning body cavities, but the rubber is stiff and my kids had a hard time bending it (which is how you spray water) with the 2 holes on the end facing outward, it also can not be used to spray anything outside the chicken as water goes everywhere. I will continue to use it for this purpose, but I would not recommend it, too much money for a tool that only does one thing. A good quality hose nozzle would be better.
 

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I mentioned in my other thread about my plucker that I had done some quail in it, well here they are. I was pretty happy with how they come out as some had said the Whizbang would not do quail or wold break them all up. They were not broken up and as you can see were fairly clean except for a few feathers. It may have done them better, but I only ran them a short time in fear I would break them up. I think if a person done quite a few they could figure just the right amount of time to probably get them a little cleaner in the plucker, but to me these were manageable and far ahead of hand plucking.
 

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Ok, so here is a picture of one of my Cornish Rocks, next to one of my Red Rangers!!!

Just kidding that is actually one of my Cornish Rocks next to one of the quail. I actually did not think about taking a picture of the CR and RR side by side, but I should have?? Maybe I will remember next time? Like I said I was quite impressed with the CR. I had several that had 2 full pounds of breast meat including the tenders. I think they average was about 1.5# of breast and tenders per bird. The ones we cooked were also very tender, even though I kept them a bit longer than I should have.

I wish I could tell you a cost per pound after feed cost etc., but unfortunately we were just not set up to track it very well this time. I am hoping to do better with this next batch. After hearing all of the stories of people having trouble keeping the CR alive, I was simply wanting to see if we could even raise them at all. I am a bit more confident that we can raise them with out much issue and now I am simply working on getting production cost down and a little better setup to actually produce them to sell next year. This has been a great learning experience and I look forward to the next ones.

BTW, we used the Cornerstone Farms small shrink bags to package all of the meat. I cut them all up and did not package any whole birds this time. The shrink bags require 180 degree water to work and if it is any colder you will have to leave it in the water to long and it will begin to cook the outside of the meat and give a terrible appearance, make sure you have very hot water 180 at least. The bags also use S.S.hog rings to seal them. I made the mistake of thinking I would save money and not buy their pliers as I already had Hog Ring pliers!! Bad idea. regular Hog Ring Pliers will not close the small S.S. rings, do yourself a favor and order the HR Pliers when you order your bags and rings from them. It was very frustrating doing 50 plus bags with a pair of pliers that kept slipping of the ring, never again, I will order their pliers for the next batch. By the way the small 7x11 bags are plenty big enough for parts. We put 4 breast together, 4 legs, 4 thighs, 6 wings, 8 tenders and had no problem it all fit nicely with room to spare. All the bones and chicken parts not mentioned above were cooked down and put into Scrapple, so not we did not waste the backs and bones and "other" stuff.

Hopefully this information will help some of you planning to raise some broilers or wondering about some of the processing equipment. I certainly do not have the perfect setup, probably not even close, but if I can help anyone with some additional information, just let me know.
 

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We killed them one day and put them in the cooler, then the next night we cut them up and froze them. I also put a hog in there at the same time, so it took a while for it to get it all froze. To be honest, the one we killed ahead of time was dressed, put in the fridge and cooked a few hours later, tender as can be. These were not stiff when I cut them up. The cooler conversion on the freezer really works good for cooling them until ready to freeze.
 

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I've raised enough Cornish x over the years to know
almost exactly what size I want at certain weeks old.
I butcher at 4 1/2 weeks to get a small 2 to 3 lb carcass.
After that I expect a pound weight gain per week.
So, for example the white Cornish x I raised this year
butchered at 6 weeks averaged 4 1/2 lb. with nice filled out
Wide breast meat. By 10 weeks you should get a 9 or 10 lb
bird for the freezer.
I tried the grazers (rangers) but didn't care for the smaller
size like you compared to the white Cornish. Also the breast
was deep and not compact broad like Cornish x.
The other thing is the white birds pick cleaner. My rangers
also had very yellow skin.
I use a home made plucker I put together long time ago.
It's had many hundreds of birds (chickens, turkeys, ducks,
geese and few other types of poultry). It has a rotating drum
powered by a belt and motor turning the drum horizontally
with the rubber fingers below a grate. It's slick and picks
clean a 5 on bird in seconds by just holding on to the feet.
For a scalding tank I use the bottom of a hot water tank
removed and was cut about 2 1/2 ft high. It's perfect for
Any size bird up to 30 lb turkeys.
I just butchered last week some nice Pekin ducks 10 weeks old
Dressed to 7 lb really filled out plump and cleaned, no pinfeathers.
With a hotter scald temp and a bit of washing soda added
to the tank to break down feather oils , the carcasses were
smooth and no down. I love it!

How much cost to build the whizbang?
 
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Great documentation Muleman, Thanks!
Man, all that SS fab takes me back to my pharma days!

What kind of burners are you using? I'm thinking an old grill burner might work well under that shaped scalder.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Moonwolf,
Thanks for the info. I did a thread 2 days back about my Whizbang build if you are interested that is more detailed, but I fiqure I came up under $1000.00. A person can build one considerably cheaper, but I wanted all S.S. and I also bought some extra fingers and had some spare fingers left over (50)
BTW, I am glad to know it was not just me as my RR came out with yellow skin also? I have some more I am trying now on a different feed regiment, I have hopes they will do better next time.

AART,
The burner is a 2 burner camp stove I had bought at Cabelas years ago. I originally used it for a big S.S. griddle I have. I do not intend to connect it to the tank, but make it so it can be used with the scalder when doing chickens then taken and used with mu griddle when camping. It has 2 burners mounted in a little steel frame made for setting pots on I would have to look to see if they still offer this one or not, probably had it 15 years or more.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I just thought I would add a bit of additional information I had. Like I said we were not set up to track feed cost and usage accurately, but will have that info. for our next batch. I have some weights for the meat we got when all was said and done. Keep in mind the breast were deboned, as were the tenders. The thighs had the bone in, as well as the legs and wings. Here is how the numbers broke down. This was for 15 Cornish Rocks and 15 Red Rangers at 10 1/2 weeks.
Legs 17.4#
Thighs 21.8#
Breast 18.1#
Tenders 6.4#
Wings 12.6#
for a total of 75.4# of usable cuts from 30 chickens. As I said the backs and scraps and carcasses were cooked down and made into scrapple. A person could also freeze a good bit of broth, as we had about 15 gallons that would have made good soup stock. We used a little over 5 gallon for the scrapple and I mixed the rest for the hogs (they really liked it)
 

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Very clear presentation, Muleman. I really enjoyed the pictures.

I, too, process Cornish (Jumbo Cornish X-Rocks to be exact) and have 25 coming next month. My process is not nearly as elaborate as yours; however using the ?? (forgot what it is called) that the hatchery recommended for these birds, mine have never had leg problems. When they are old enough to be without a light, I open the brooder and let them out into the pen where they enjoy agricultural lime that keeps them nice and clean, even when it rains.
 
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