I got my first Cornish Cross yesterday


10 Years
Nov 14, 2009
Kingman Arizona
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.
Nice setup. How many are you keeping for your needs as a family. Do you intend to keep buying stock or can you get the hybrids to cross breed?
I'm keeping about 50 for our family, and whatever out of that makes it to butcher time (minus 5-6 hens) will be in the freezer. I'm going to take those 5-6 hens and keep them on a managed mostly free-range diet, and add in a few Plymouth Rock hens and some Cornish Game hens, with Plymouth Rock roosters over them to try to breed my own meat birds. I want to get away from having to keep buying birds. I am also working on getting away from buying feed.

What is bothering me about them is that even though they are really vigorous little chicks, I keep taking a lot of losses. They are trampling each other to death even though there is enough space for them, enough feeder/waterer room, and enough heat lamps. They will huddle 4 or 5 chicks deep in one area, even in the daytime, and those on the bottom will be squashed flat. I've lost about 25 so far, out of the original 208. All of the excess chicks went to their new homes today except for one person who never showed, leaving me their 25, so I still have around the 50 I wanted, but I can't keep losing 5-10 chicks a day! Is this normal for these guys? A friend of mine who raised them before says she had that issue with them too even when they were bigger, if anything startled them, they would pile up in a corner and some would die. Has anyone else experienced that?
Maybe your lights aren't down low enough. They don't free range enough to cut down on feed. They eat as lot! So how many have you lost after you split them up?
i agree... sounds like you are having temperature issues and they are getting cold. try lowering your lights or adding another.

what are the dimensions of your brooder for that number of birds?

also... they are way too young to be doing any free-ranging.. even for treats.
I agree with EKO Mine are 3 weeks today and I just moved mibe outside and up their protein to 27% so they will quickly finish feathering. I still won't treat them.
I have them in a horse stall that is about 10 by 12 feet, bedded with straw. There are no drafts in there, I have checked. The lights are maybe about a foot off the floor, and it's a nice toasty 95 degrees in there in the middle of the night. In the day, I have to turn the lights off because it gets into the 80s and 90s outside, making the inside of the brooder stall too hot with the lights on. I keep thermometers in several places around the area so I know what the temperature is. There is also room for them to get out of the light if they want to cool down or sit in the dark.

I lost two more this morning. They seem to bunch up less under the light now that I made them sort of a tent out of old towels around the lights, they seem to feel more secure with the feel of the towels on them, like a mama hen. Hopefully things will settle down.

As far as free-ranging and giving things other than bagged feed--I start all my birds that way, from day one. Chick starter is not even available locally at this time of year. I feed them some Flock Raiser (which I am sparing with, as it is $20 a bag here!) but other than that, they get crushed whole grains (with grit of course), and fruits and vegetables and also some brewery grain that is high in protein, and a little goat milk or yogurt also. I do not want the birds getting fixated on a feeder as their only source of food, and I also want them to learn that a variety of things are food, not just pellets, so I scatter the grain and veggies/fruit all around the brooder as well as having the feeders, so they are encouraged to roam around and scratch rather than just sitting at a feeder stuffing themselves all day, that way they are developing healthy bones and hearts from the start--important for the hens I want to keep alive for breeding. I made the mistake earlier this year with some New Hampshire cockerel chicks of only feeding them from a dish, and now at 6 months old, when turned loose with the flock on 7 acres, they will run back into the pen immediately and plop themselves in front of a feeder and sit there begging for feed all day long instead of foraging. When it is at least mid-90s and not over 100, I will let the chicks out a while in the afternoon into a fenced garden so they can get some air and sun, but if it is not in the right temperature range, I do not let them out. I also think exposure to dirt/bugs/whatever outside from the start will help them to build a good immune system.
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