High Altitude Meat Birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Smiles-N-Sunshine, Jan 13, 2012.

  1. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Songster

    Oct 19, 2008
    Palominas, Arizona
    Howdy, y'all!

    I'm planning my first meat bird project. In checking hatchery websites, I found Murray McMurray's Jumbo Cornish X Rocks, with the phrase "Please Note: These birds are not recommended for raising at altitudes above 5000 feet." We live at 5100 feet, so this grabbed my attention. (I didn't find similar warnings at the Meyer, Mt Healthy, Welp and Schlect sites.)


    So, my questions.

    - I assume this is because we have less oxygen in the air than at lower altitudes?

    - Is this particular to the McMurray line, or will this be a concern for Cornish X from any source?

    - Other than putting little chick-sized oxygen masks on them, is there any way to reduce or eliminate any harmful effects?

    - What would be the effects? Less weight gain? Mortality (individuals or whole group)?

    I'd love to hear from everyone, but especially anyone with experience raising meat birds at high altitudes.


    Last edited: Jan 13, 2012
  2. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Crowing

    Apr 14, 2011
    Central Oregon
    That's interesting. I'm not as high as you are, but there is some elevation here and my Cornish Cross never had any problems.

    Occasionally, a Cornish Cross will have congestive heart failure and it would probably be more difficult for those particular birds at higher elevations.

    Do your other chickens have problems with the elevation? I suggest that you just buy your chicks from a different hatchery. Maybe do 25 or less for the first batch and see how it goes. Don't order 5,000 until after you've done a test run.

    I'm going to be really surprised if your elevation is a problem. You might have to be aware of the cold temperatures at night.

    Somewhere in their genetic background, chickens come from birds that flew, and so they should have bodies that can take a little bit of elevation.
  3. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Songster

    Oct 19, 2008
    Palominas, Arizona
    Thanks, Oregon Blues. No, no problems with the other birds we raise, at least the mortality rate is in line with expectations, and the adults are definitely healthy and content. Definitely only doing a few the first time, thank you - I learned that lesson early in life! [​IMG]
  4. 10KBirds

    10KBirds Hatching

    Jan 15, 2012
    Fairplay, Colorado
    This season I raised a dozen Slow Cornish Broilers from Privett Hatchery in New Mexico.
    I'm at 10,000 feet here in Colorado and all 12 made it to the freezer after approx. 12 weeks...all at or above 4lbs dressed.
    Next season I plan on trying the Cornish Roaster from McMurray as they claim the roaster is a slow grower...we'll see.

    I really want to try the Cornish X Rock...just to see what happens, if (with effort) they can make it...but everything I've read points to failure.

    I'll try to keep this post updated with results (I plan on running the birds in a very controlled setup in order to record results and narrow down the best breed for my altitude)

    Good luck with your efforts and keep us posted
    1 person likes this.
  5. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Songster

    Oct 19, 2008
    Palominas, Arizona
    Thanks 10KBirds! This thread is yours now [​IMG]

    I'm honestly more concerned with the summer heat than the altitude at this point, but I'd love to see your comparison of different breeds and lines. I found very little online on the subject.

    And Welcome to BYC!!! [​IMG]
  6. DenverBird

    DenverBird Songster

    Dec 8, 2010
    West Denver Burbs
    I've raised 2 batches of Freedom Rangers at 5,440' and had no problems. Sent them off to freezer camp at 11.5 weeks, dressed out about 5 - 6 lbs. We got the first batch in early Feb. last year, butchered end of April, got the second batch of chicks in late August and butchered in Nov. so we haven't had any experience with heat.

    If 10K can raise them in Fairplay, I don't think you have anything else to worry about related to altitude.

  7. Evergreen160

    Evergreen160 In the Brooder

    Jan 2, 2011
    Foothills of Colorado
    10K Birds - I'm in Colorado too. Our house is at 8,000+ ft. Have you eaten any of your Slow Cornish Broilers from Privett Hatchery yet? Just wondering how you liked them. We're starting with laying hens this year but next year I'd like to do meat birds. Are slow growers the way to go?
  8. dltc96

    dltc96 Chirping

    Aug 26, 2010
    We're very familiar with the area. We stayed up Mosquito Gulch with my in-laws for a few months before our daughter was born and we moved to BV. Now we're on the western slope at 7500ft.

    Last year we did two batches from McMurray. Both batches were Cornish Roasters. We had a little trouble keeping the temperature correct at the beginning, but once we worked through that, things were better. We did not lose any to the common problems that you hear about (although we did have some uncommon problems). At 10 1/2 weeks they came in around 6-8 lbs. dressed. We had one that had fluid in the cavity when we processed, but it was behaving normally. I won't say that we were completely impressed though, and we are trying something different this year.
  9. New peeps

    New peeps In the Brooder

    Feb 6, 2012
    Conifer/Morrison CO
    DB, where did you send for processing? I have 15 CornishX roasters, I believe. They were part of the meat and egg combo from McMurray so it was their choice. At 7200' SW of Denver, I don't think they would have sent the CornishX Jumbos. Mine are 5 weeks today and will eat for another 3 weeks or so.
  10. Pico de Gallo

    Pico de Gallo In the Brooder

    Jan 18, 2012
    ABQ, NM
    I live in Albuquerque, NM, elev 5000'.

    We did 15 of McMurray's Cornish X last summer:

    2 were found dead, on different days, between wks 8-10.

    A 3rd one died in wk 10 as I was feeding them. Poor little guy had a heart attack while waddling towards the feeder. Only two more days before processing day, and no time that day...what a waste!

    As long as I live above 5000'...no more Cornish X's for me!

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