What have I done? HELP!


9 Years
Mar 13, 2010
Ok... I have approximately 2 weeks to learn how to care for, feed, and process 25 Cornish Rock roos. Last night talking to my friend I made an impulse buy... I have wanted meat chickens but knew without a doubt that I could never kill them. The processing part - fine... but actually "doing the deed"... not so much. Anyway, her BF was raised on a Minnesota farm where they raised their own food and he assured us he will do all of the killing if we would do the plucking / etc.

Will this work for raising them? I have decided to close off the short leg of my "L" shaped run (my chickens are always out in the backyard anyway). I will have to build a shelter for the meat chickens because I don't want them in my girls' house. Idea is to build a shelter big enough to hold a little kiddie wading pool, hardware cloth the top of it and set up a brooder light. They are supposed to come around the 20th of October so temps will probably be highs of 80 lows of 50?

I will definitely be reading through this forum and the self sufficient site, but if there are answers to these questions it would be awesome to have them in one spot.

Do they get regular chick starter / grower?

Medicated or no?

Do they stay on that for the whole 7-10 weeks before butcher time or is there another food for them?

I have heard that the last week or 2 you should also give them organice whole milk? (don't have access to raw)

The run is dirt - will they eat "treat" foods like BOSS, yogurt, greens etc? Or is that a no-no for meat birds? (kind of the point of raising your own meat birds is to know they had quality of life, right?)

They get those huge nasty feet - can they navigate deep litter in the coop?

Anything else I need to know before they come? I will have more questions when they get here, I'm sure!!
Ok, take a deep breath you can do this. You have more than two weeks to learn it all. Learn how to care for them, there is plenty of time to learn how to process. I guess it depends on the size of your "L" and if it will support 25 birds. Most folks I know use tractors for their meat birds, so they are on the ground without litter. You can use chick starter/grower, just remember the higher the protien the quicker they will grow. I'd personnal go with feed specifically for meat birds. Well, those are my two cents, I'm sure other more experienced folks will comment. Have fun and make it a learning experience.
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well... the run would end up being only about 110sqft or so, but wouldn't that be enough for the short time they will be there? If not, I can just put a temporary extension on it and leave the gate open to connect the 2.

yeah you are right, I definitely need to "breathe" lol. My folks gave me an acre of land but since I have horses we just left it all together to have a total of 3.8 acres. They cringe everytime I bring something new home LOL. I was dreading telling them about these chickens - but my dad is still laughing (I told them early this morning lol).
Every one will have there own opinion as how to raise meaty's. Personally I found starting them with a medicated game starter, then going to game grower (non med) is the best way to go. Game feed has higher protein than most other commercial feeds. A hand full of cracked corn mixed in wont hurt their flavor. I also give meaty's vitamin supplements in their water. They need that when you grow them fast. Also give them lots of natural light,they need the vitamin D or they,ll get rickets. Other than that, meaty's are easy......Best of luck, Chris
Yes, I think 110ft. of so is adequate. If you find yourself using a temporary set-up make sure you consider predators. Also they are eating, drinking and pooping machines.
This was my first year raising meaties. We got 6 at a time all summer long. A total of 36 this year. We fed ours chick starter the whole time. Once the weather warmed up, we would let them out of the coop to free range a bit. They ate a little grass and bugs, but didn't venture too far from the feed and water.
We kept them in our coop (in a partitioned off section about 5 foot square). Big mistake on my part. I was cleaning poo out everyother day since it was so thick (for just 6 birds). Didn't smell too nice either. During July and August it was so hot and the flies were terrible, when I cleaned the poo, the birds went nuts for the maggots under the poo

All in all, everything worked out. Just be prepared for lots of poo and boy do they eat.

As far as "doin the deed" I never did it before. I was hesitant at first, am still a little, but I do it.

I was told by an old farmer to heat my water to 140 degrees, dip the bird in for a minute or two and then the feathers will come right off. He was right. It's takes me about 15 to pluck a bird. It's a messy job but they sure taste good.

Since we only had 6 birds at a time, we processed them all on the same day.

Good Luck!
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Don't panic.
As long as you can process them (and not turn them into 25 pet jabba-the-hut's) you'll be fine just fine!

If there is one most important thing I think first time Cornish X raisers should know, it's DON'T FEED THEM ALL THEY WANT. They are bottomless pits and will feed themselves to death. 12 hours with food (daytime) and 12 hours overnight without food is the method most people use. You will be shocked at how fast they grow. It's unreal.

That being said, I personally don't think you can beat Cornish X for feed conversion and economy as a meat bird. Some favor traditional meat birds because they DO have a more complex and appreciable flavor and firmer texture, but Cornish X taste dang good IMO, especially home raised ones. They beat the heck out of store bought chicken anyday. I like that it only takes 6-8 weeks of effort to stock my freezer for the year.

They actually don't require as much space as a regular chicken, because they don't do much all day but eat. They generally won't free-range or wander very far from the feeder. I raise mine in a 100 sq. ft. (10'x10' pvc framed) chicken tractor. They do poo a lot, so be prepared to deal with that. You will either have to clean them out often if they are in a stationary place, or move them daily (as they get bigger) to refresh their grass.

If you've had your chicks vaccinated for cocci, DON'T give medicated feed--it will nullify the vaccine. If they have not been vaccinated, then you MUST give medicated feed or they could all get sick and die. Most feeds are medicated. Ask your feed dealer or call the company if you are not sure.

I start mine on 24% protein turkey poult feed. They've got to have the higher protein to help prevent leg problems. Give them chicken vitamins in their water too. I have done it both ways, keeping them on the 24% all the way, and on a different batch of birds tried going down to the developer feed 2 weeks before butcher. I couldn't tell much difference, just a little less fat on them if you do the developer. I think it is 18%, (can't remember for sure.) Males usually butcher at 6-7 weeks, females 8-9 weeks. You can weigh them to see if they're where they should be if you want. (I have a chart here somewhere, if you'd like a copy.) I don't recommend keeping them much longer than that. Usually around 11 weeks they will start to develop health problems because they are so heavy.

I've never heard of giving them milk, organic or otherwise. Not sure why you would, but maybe someone has found that helpful. It will cost you more to feed them and raise your bottom line though.

You can offer them treats. It is supposed to improve the meat flavor some, especially dark greens like kale. They are not as fond of treats as regular chickens though. They are more driven to eat their grain. I fed mine a lot of plain yougurt when I suspected e-coli was causing intestinal shedding and distress. It helped balance them back out and they did like the yougurt a lot.

I wouldn't recommend deep litter for them myself, as they are prone to leg problems anyway. They'll do better on a firm surface, IME. They poo A LOT. I don't think deep litter could contain all that poo!

When you cook up that first meal, you'll surely say to yourself that it was all worth it. They can be challenging and require good management. They are not as self-sufficient and easy as say a laying flock would be. But it's a quick 2 months hatch to table, and I've always been pleased with my Cornish X. My dinner guests always are too! At least you know they were humanely raised and cleanly processed. You'll never want to eat store-bought chicken again!

ETA: Here's that live-weight chart:

Week Male Wght Female Wght
1 .31#; 141g .23#; 104g
2 .89#; 404g .67#; 304g
3 1.80#; 816g 1.35#; 612g
4 3.08#; 1.4kg 2.31#; 1.0kg
5 4.51#; 2.0kg 3.38#; 1.5kg
6 5.91#; 2.7kg 4.43#; 2.0kg
7 6.70#; 3.0kg 5.03#; 2.3kg
8 7.50#; 3.4kg 5.62#; 2.5kg

Dressed weight will come out around 4-5 lbs.
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I start mine on non-med start and grow for 2 weeks then, I give them 27 % protein to get them to feather faster for 2 weeks and then on 18 % broiler withdraw. I don't do the DEED either, but I can do everything else. I wish I could do it though, I think its the blood squirting out and getting on me freaks me out
For days I will try talking myself into it then I just chicken out (no pun intended) LOL
Wow awesome info thanks!!
Today I met up with the friend who went in with me on the cornish rocks. Her BF built a quick roof and closed off the short leg of the "L" on my chicken yard. I will use our infamous blue tarps for the sides of the shelter so that I can put "walls' in or remove them easily depending on the weather. The pen ended up being about 10x12. The floor is completely packed dirt, so that will work out for them?
I can get grass and such for most of the time I will have them, since it is usually November before we even start thinking about a frost. After that, what about a timothy or alfalfa hay? I have no clue about such things (obviously) but I would think greens and such would be more / better flavor than just feed?

I am actually finding myself excited about this! I told my friend that since I know these chicks will just develop health problems etc at such a young age, I feel ok about giving them a good life and then ending it before they suffer.
That's my theory for now. LOL

I did receive my confirmation email from Ideal.... ship date 10/20. Gotta remember to call my post office and see how they deal with live chicks.

ETA - I mentioned these to the young staff at my feed store and they said they didn't think they had any "meat chicken feed". We are getting a TSC soon... looks like they have finished renovating the building... will they maybe have that kind of stuff?
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