Is 6 Weeks to early to harvest cornish cross chickens?

Hens Solo

Chirping
Nov 6, 2019
67
300
78
LaFayette Georgia
Alas . I'm probably going to harvest my 7 remaining cornish tomorrow. They average a little over 4lb live weight after 6 weeks. Two of them have been killed by predators in the past 2 days. My thinking is that since I can't protect them, I my as well butcher them while I can get a return. I originally wanted to hang on til 8 weeks but at my present attrition rate, I'll soon have no chickens.
 

Hens Solo

Chirping
Nov 6, 2019
67
300
78
LaFayette Georgia
I put them in a cage within their pen to save them for at least another day. The one I weighed last night was 4lb 12 oz. Some critter has come into their enclosure and left only a blood splatter. No rips in the wire or drag marks anywhere. I'm thinking a hawk or something. Can a hawk carry off a 4 lb chicken?
 

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Hens Solo

Chirping
Nov 6, 2019
67
300
78
LaFayette Georgia
Yes. Butcher now. But if they are still outside, and you are not sure what grabbed them, I would try to further protect them, if possible. A raccoon can reach through the cage as it is now.
I pulled the cage further away from the perimeter pen. and noticed some bloody foot prints all along the top of the pen (actually a dog kennel) I'm leaning now toward raccoon but both strikes have happened in the daytime
 

Frog Bog

Chirping
Oct 22, 2019
54
134
68
6 weeks is fine. The few I have done over the years I've culled around 6 weeks. I like a 3-3.5lb carcass. I think they are just teh right size for the type of cooking I like to do.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,298
12,573
707
Southeast Louisiana
There is nothing wrong with eating them now. They will be very tender and you will not get as much meat as if you wait, but they should be good. How do you plan on cooking them? I would not marinade them very long as the acid in the marinade might turn them mushy as it breaks down fiber.

Not sure here you are located or what your pen looks like to guess on predators. It would take a pretty big bird of prey to carry off a 4 pound chicken. Since you mention raccoons I'd guess you are in North America. Most flying predators would be more likely to eat them on the spot unless they were taking them back to a nest of young, which is unlikely this time of the year north of the equator.

A raccoon is unlikely to carry the whole carcass away either but maybe. Certainly cannot consume it all in one spot, bones and all. I'd be thinking more in terms of a bobcat or some type of canine, fox or coyote. Foxes can climb quite well and coyotes can really jump, but bobcat can really climb. Their typical method is to carry off the carcass and bury what they don't consume for later. But I've also seen a fox come back the same time every day to grab one and carry it off.

Don't believe the myth that critters only hunt at night. I've seen plenty of bobcat, coyote. and fox out hunting during the day. A friend saw a bobcat take her rooster out of her kitchen window while she was washing the lunchtime dishes. I've seen and trapped raccoons and skunks in the middle of the day. The one that surprised me was when I saw a possum eating out of my compost pile at 1:00 pm on a bright sunny day. I thought possum were only nocturnal but not that one. None of them were sick.
 

Hens Solo

Chirping
Nov 6, 2019
67
300
78
LaFayette Georgia
There is nothing wrong with eating them now. They will be very tender and you will not get as much meat as if you wait, but they should be good. How do you plan on cooking them? I would not marinade them very long as the acid in the marinade might turn them mushy as it breaks down fiber.

Not sure here you are located or what your pen looks like to guess on predators. It would take a pretty big bird of prey to carry off a 4 pound chicken. Since you mention raccoons I'd guess you are in North America. Most flying predators would be more likely to eat them on the spot unless they were taking them back to a nest of young, which is unlikely this time of the year north of the equator.

A raccoon is unlikely to carry the whole carcass away either but maybe. Certainly cannot consume it all in one spot, bones and all. I'd be thinking more in terms of a bobcat or some type of canine, fox or coyote. Foxes can climb quite well and coyotes can really jump, but bobcat can really climb. Their typical method is to carry off the carcass and bury what they don't consume for later. But I've also seen a fox come back the same time every day to grab one and carry it off.

Don't believe the myth that critters only hunt at night. I've seen plenty of bobcat, coyote. and fox out hunting during the day. A friend saw a bobcat take her rooster out of her kitchen window while she was washing the lunchtime dishes. I've seen and trapped raccoons and skunks in the middle of the day. The one that surprised me was when I saw a possum eating out of my compost pile at 1:00 pm on a bright sunny day. I thought possum were only nocturnal but not that one. None of them were sick.
 
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