Chronicles of Raising Meat Birds - Modern Broilers, Heritage and Hybrids

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by jolenesdad, Mar 7, 2019.

  1. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

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    Thanks for coming to my meat bird thread! It's evolved over the months to a discussion post among a few of us, as well as a regular update for my own and others growing meat birds. The first 10 or so pages are my first experience with Cornish in a free range access situation. The next round includes Robust White and Royal Red broilers from Moyers Hatchery, and Cornish Cross again for comparison. I plan to continue updating this thread as I continue to raise more meat birds. Thanks to the staff of BYC for featuring this thread!

    Please feel free to participate, comment, assist, ask questions, etc. I am no expert but I am having the time of my life raising my own food. I have never done anything like this, and you can too. At the bottom of this first post, I will update with my favorite informational threads on meat birds here and my favorite links online that I have learned from. If you don't want to read through everything, here are some of my favorite posts. There are photos throughout the thread, and after batch 2, I will create a post with all the weekly growth photos.

    Final Photos Before Processing First Cornish Round

    Cooking The First Bird!

    SPOILER ALERT: I Spoiled all my meat

    New Plans are Made

    Robust White and Royal Red Broilers Arrive

    Interesting discussion with Moyer on where broiler breeds come from

    First round processing Moyer Broilers at 9 weeks

    Carcass photos of finished Royal Red broiler

    WRAP UP POST from Summer 2019 Broilers - Moyer Specialty Broiler and Cornish Cross

    Links to additional communities and resources:

    Pastured Poultry Group on facebook
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/PasturedPoultry/

    Additional information links at end of this first post.
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    Original First Entry:
    Im raising my first batch of Cornish X, and I'm going to raise them like I have raised all the other birds and see what results I get. Outside from day 2, natural lighting patterns, 20% starter/grower for the duration of their lives, love and attention, access to fresh grass and plenty of space.

    I've raised 4 groups of chicks this year and really like raising them outdoors, so I am going for the same with the Cornish. I am aiming to process them in 10 ish weeks. I have 8 birds I picked up today at my feed store, and I have ordered 22 that will arrive on Tuesday. They'll be five days apart, but I felt like taking home these, too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ These 8 are straight run, and the 22 coming will all be female. I didn't want tons of cockerels starting to crow around processing time.

    I'll be tracking my progress and notes here and hope you'll join me if you have comments or thoughts! :) Any help is appreciated and encouraged! :)

    Day 1
    I brood the chicks indoors the first day and night with a Brinsea EcoGlow brooder plate. I usually include electrolytes in the water, and I am using Murray McMurray's Broiler Booster. It's supposed to help broiler's specifically with bone growth.

    I like to keep day old's in the house in a smaller brooder so that I can monitor them closely, ensure each is eating and drinking, and, that they know how to get warmth from the brooder plate. It also gives me 24 hours to see if anyone has stresses or pasty butt before moving them outdoors. The brooder plate will train them where to seek heat from the Mama Heating Pad I have setup in the outdoor brooder.

    I included sprinkled feed throughout the brooder and also a patch of grass from the area the chicks will be foraging later in life. I sprinkled the grass and areas around it in the brooder with chick grit.

    First impressions of these chicks: They're chickens. They definitely have larger-capacity crops, or they just shove them fuller. They're not too zippy, but they are curious and friendly. They took to the brooder plate immediately.

    If you stumble upon this thread from a google search, here are some of the places I’ve gathered my information...

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/raising-healthy-cornish-cross-chronicles.1112276/

    One of my favorite personal threads started by @ChocolateMouse, it doesn’t fully finish, but the beginning is full of awesome tidbits.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...rnish-x-meaties-tractors-do-not-count.813414/

    Awesome 27-page post all about FREE ranging Cornish. Lots of details from various sources on how they free range their flock, progression photos, butchering notes, and follow up with next generation birds.


    https://www.backyardchickens.com/threads/toad-raising.1152440/

    60+ thread on raising “roads” a 7/8 Cornish cross, 1/8 Dixie rainbow. Discussion on creating self sustaining meat birds.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  2. bbond

    bbond Songster

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    Honestly I loved my Cornish crosses. So much that I let them go a little too long. They were still okay as they were free range, but around 11 weeks they are the size of a young turkey.
     
  3. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

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    Overnight all chicks did well and are ready to go out. Today they’ll move outside to their outdoor brooder and pen.

    This brooder pen will eventually become their overnight pen. It is 50 square feet, inside of a 425sf stall. Solid roof and lots of solid walls, half walls that close all around. It opens into a 1/2 acre field.

    While they are small they’ll go in a small tractor on the grass, or have full range of the entire stall. We will drop down poultry netting if the hawks show up.

    More photos of the setup when I get the MHP setup and the birds inside!
     

    Attached Files:

  4. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

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    Outside. Happy and checking it all out. They were Eating up through dusk, when my laying chicks would have tucked up for the night, but since dark, they have been under the MHP.

    Pictures from the transition. I’ll update next week when the 22 additional come.
     

    Attached Files:

  5. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

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    The 22 additional Cornish arrived this morning. 36 hours of shipping, all arrived healthy.

    I opted to put these chicks directly outside out of the shipping box. Fingers crossed). We should have rain today and wind but they’re protected and tbe temps should stay mild. We will then head into a week of upper 60s/upper 40s at night, and I wanted them to get out before that so they could get used to where the heating pad was without a chill in the air.

    I saw as many as I could track eat and drink and they all huddled under the MHP after a snack. I waited for each chick to look like they were taking a break, held them in my hands to warm them up and get them sleep, and stuck them under the pad. Worked like a charm.


    Additional notes...

    I had three pasty butts from the first 8 that I believe came from overcrowding stress at the feed store. I see chicks on the far side of a pasty butt issue too often there. I was able to control two of them but one would never thrive and after separating on day 3 I had to euthanize it on day 4 after failing to eat or growing and hardly ever waking up. :-( the other two are doing well.

    So far I’m shocked with the activity level of the chicks. I’m sure it will slow down but they are EVERYWHERE. I taught them what mealworms are and toss them throughout the brooder and they search for them continuously. MOST times I come to check on them I find them running about or in the greens bucket. Today I found three roosting on a branch. They scratch through dirt and bedding but don’t eat the greens at all yet. If that continues I’ll put my Buff Orpington in with them to show them.

    I’m gonna get a scale so I can weigh them. The 7 day olds don’t quite appear normal size to me from pictures, so I definitely feel the dark nights are leading them to eat less and grow slower. Is that good or bad? We will see.... either way I would say they are thriving.

    Attached photos of the old and new together and the newbies warming up.
     

    Attached Files:

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  6. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

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    Woke up with a kidney stone and had to be rushed to the ER. Got back three hours later to three dead chicks. :-(

    Moved all the new ones back inside under an ecoglow for a few days so I can keep track of them while I feel like my insides are exploding.

    On an actual update note, today, day 8 for the originals, you can totally tell the boys and girls. Boys are much bigger today. (Picture included of a biggie and a little.)
     

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
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  7. NewBoots

    NewBoots Crowing

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    Thank you so much for this thread! I plan to give the Cornish X a try once the new place is up and running so I'm very interested in your reports.

    Those are terrible but while I still get them from time to time, (I swear by drinking a lot of water) they are pretty mild compared with the first couple.
     
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  8. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

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    There’s several VERY interesting threads in the meat bird forum, but they seem mostly dead now. :-(

    All the information is great, however, so spend a night or two reading through them. I’ll update the original post with the places I’ve found information
     
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  9. NewBoots

    NewBoots Crowing

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    Once I get closer to starting a broiler coop I'll follow every thread. At my age if I try to stuff too much into my head there won't be much left by the time I need to use it.
    :old
     
  10. jolenesdad

    jolenesdad Crowing

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    Day 7/12

    I started with 8 feed store chicks that are now 12 days old. One died within 24 hours and there is one left indoors. This chick had a pasty butt issue and lost a lot of feather on the rump, and isn’t growing at the same rate. I held her back with 3 of the smallest from the new batch in an indoor brooder. The chick is active and eats and drinks regularly, but the growth is strange, the chick is the same size as the ones younger than it. Still growing feathers so I’m hopeful.

    I lost a total of five chicks from the 22 in the second batch. Some shipping stress and then a couple got chilled I think when I wasn’t here for the morning and they didn’t make it after trying to get them a boost indoors. All the chicks that were lost were small to begin with, so I’m thinking it’s not all my fault.

    Next fall when i do this again, I will keep all chicks inside for the first night, and, I will drive and pickup my order so there’s no shipping issues.

    I’ve got 4 chicks held back in an indoor brooder because of the one small chick. They’ll all go outdoors when we don’t have 40s at night anymore in two days.

    The outdoor chicks are THRIVING. They’re all over the place all day, and most times I find them scratching and pecking through the grass in the brooder and not just piled at the feed.

    They’re incredibly personable and energetic. They’re totally accustomed to the weather and some of the younger chicks get under heat in the day but for the most part, they nap outside in the brooder. They roost and climb the branches and they all dust bathe. I ordered a scale so i should be able to get some weights soon.

    They hunt bugs and eat grass seed. They don’t eat grass with the same level of intrigue as laying chicks. They love mealworms and tossing a handful into the brooder really got them digging and searching. They do not eat at night in the dark.

    So far, aside from their size at 12 days and their large full crops, there’s nothing behavior wise different than other chicks I’ve raised.

    Pictures attached from day 6/11 and 7/12. The larger birds are discolored from the dust bath.
     

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