Yesterday morning my order of Cornish Cross chicks arrived from Central Hatchery. I did a big group order for a few different families to split up, so the total order was 200 chicks. That's a LOT of birds! I got a lot of odd stares as I walked out of the post office with a heap of chirpy boxes full of chicks! This will be my first time raising them start to finish. I am keeping about 50 for myself, we will butcher most and keep 5 or so hens for our meat-bird breeding project, they will be crossed with Cornish Game and White Rocks to see if we can get a flock started of sustainable meat birds. I'm planning on free-ranging these guys as much as I can to cut down on feed cost and also slow their growth enough to avoid problems. I'm really happy with the hatchery, they sent 208 birds which arrived within 24 hours after they were shipped. None dead on arrival, one had a wry neck and didn't last through the night. 10 others got accidentally killed in the night, even though they have a huge brooder space (a horse stall) with lots of heat lamps spread around, they all piled under one in a corner and some got trampled flat. Fortunately, the ones that are not mine all got picked up today, so there's less of a crowd. Not a bad loss, I guess, only three birds that got paid for died. They sure can eat! They went right for the food and water when I unpacked them, and they're really vigorous and healthy, scratching and foraging through their area. I cut up some fruit into little pieces and scattered it for them to "free-range" for. I don't want them getting too attached to the feeder. Tomorrow they will start spending the day out in a well-fenced garden area and going back in the stall at night. This should be an interesting experience, now that we have meat birds going, we are going to be 100% self-sufficient when it comes to meat. We're nearly there with eggs and dairy products, and by next summer should be with most vegetables.