Pasture for Cornish Crosses

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by rmonge00, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. rmonge00

    rmonge00 Chillin' With My Peeps


    I just got 25 Cornish Crosses and they are growing fast in the brooder. They are about 2-3 weeks old and I have heard they should be slaughtered at 6-8 weeks. Does anyone have any idea on how to get them out to pasture for a little while? I really would like to feed them some grass before slaughter to improve the taste. I have 3 acres - all fenced in with 5 foot fencing. I have 6 mature laying hens and a rooster running around also. I have no run attached to the coop because my other chickens have always free-ranged.... Any ideas???


  2. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Overrun With Chickens

    Jun 19, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Mine were already out free-ranging at three weeks old but if your not comfortable letting them roam in your yard you can always build a cheap chicken tractor out of PVC and mesh... just an idea! [​IMG]

  3. trifecta

    trifecta Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2012
    Laidley, QLD, Australia
    I don't know how well your Cornish X will "free range". I have 8 that I have been giving access to my lawn, in the confinement of a dog x-pen. They are really sweet birds, but have ZERO survival instinct. Its really interesting to watch their behavior compared to the 4 DP cockerels that are out with them. They seem to care little for predators, things flying overhead... my guys did fine in confinement but after watching them, I don't know how brave I would have been about letting them go!

    Also, it took them probably a week to figure out that they could graze. It was really funny, the RIR and BR were like, awesome, grass! and the 8 cornish just kept lumbering around looking for their feed...

    As soon as it stops raining here I'm going to put out my guys in the garden today. We'll see if they can figure out how to catch bugs :)
  4. CARS

    CARS Chillin' With My Peeps

    I finish my Cornish X's off on a grass pasture mix in a fenced off area next to my barn. While I wouldn't say they forage, they do eat it up along with their regular food.

    If you have a few acres of grass, I would also suggest a tractor. I went with the dedicated area because of lazyness, but chicken tractors work well for many flock raisers.
  5. stone_family3

    stone_family3 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2011
    My cornish Xs are lazy and have to be forced outside in the grass. I have taken grass clippings and put it in their food dishes, they ate most of it before the fatties realized it wasn't chick food.
  6. Working Dog Doc

    Working Dog Doc Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 3, 2012
    My Cornish crosses are actually pretty good about grazing. Because we've had a ridiculously warm spring, I would take them out as early as a week old and put them under the wire top of a rabbit/guinea pig cage I had for short periods (an hour or so) at a time, so they learned pretty early to hunt and scratch. The two Easter eggers just kind of follow them around and don't think as much for themselves as much as I'd thought. I only feed my guys their feed at dusk when they are ready to go back inside for the night. They get let out in the morning and are ready to forage all day. I use a 6 x 6 foot dog kennel panel with a tarp over the top for their enclosure, which is movable with two people.
  7. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Why not just run them with your layer flock? You will be surprised at how quickly they pick up on all the cues necessary to survive free ranging and will respond when your roo gives an alarm call. I ran my 20 meaties with my layer flock and they foraged well right up to processing at 11 wks. They ate the same feed as my other birds and only ate once a day each evening...finished out good weights and all thrived, were healthy and tasted great.

    I am currently growing 50+ meaty chicks to an age to free range and will be doing so in a movable paddock of electric net fencing. They have a guardian roo with them and he teaches them to forage...they are 2 wks old and are already very tuned into his calls and will run for cover when he alarms. They had their first time on the grass this evening before sundown and did very well...went like crazy for the forage. They are currently down to 2 a day feedings and will be cut down to one when they are fully out on free range.

    The key to getting your meaties to forage is to NOT provide easier food all the time. When presented with a continuous feeder full of feed or having to forage, they will pretty much choose the easy food each time.
  8. rmonge00

    rmonge00 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sounds good Beekissed. So when do you think I can start letting them out? They are about 3 weeks and we are still having the occasional frost and getting up to the 50's during the day.... I am assuming they still need the heat lamp at night and at times during the day.... Would you just let them roam the 3 acres with a year old layer flock and a rooster?

  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master can let them out now. Unless you have provisions for them to eat along side your layer flock, it might be a bit difficult to get them back to separate penning in the evenings. My CX are 2 wks old right now and are out on pasture/free range all day with one roo...and they run like mad for shelter when he alarms. I have one dog in their paddock to deter hawk predation and he's a good one for this....almost tore a low flying buzzard a new place to defecate the other day.

    I keep water outside for both size of birds and I've also erected a tarp shelter in the middle of their paddock for additional shade and places to duck~and I shut down the coop so they can't go back in until I feed this evening. They are all spread across the range right now, foraging for dear life!

    Took this pic a couple of days ago~their first time out~ they pretty much were a little timid to leave the shelter but today they are ranging the full paddock.


  10. rmonge00

    rmonge00 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Thanks beekissed,

    So are they already off the heat lamp? Or do you leave one on in the coop for them? How hot is it where you are? I may try letting a few of them roam before I do the whole 25... I am still worried they will get lost on 3 acres...


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