What's Different About Raising CornishX vs Dual Purpose Chicks?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Smiles-N-Sunshine, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Howdy, Y'all!

    I've been successfully raising dual-purpose chickens for several years now. I'd like to try raising a batch of CornishX birds, and I'm looking for no-kidding advice about the differences I should expect.

    I understand they're dumb eating machines, and food should be removed for hours to keep them from outgrowing their frames. How many hours a day? Nighttime?

    Is Purina Flock Raiser (20%) a good starter, grower, or finisher ration? (It's the principal feed for my mixed flock.)

    If I bought 50 birds from Welp, how many could I reasonably expect to live to slaughtering age?

    Would a 10 square foot (5' diameter) stock tank with brooder lamp and pine shaving litter work for brooding, then finishing in a 10' x 10' straw bale enclosure?

    Is slaughtering several birds over successive weekends an acceptable strategy, or is it better to process them all at once?

    Edit: Are CornishX particularly heat sensitive?

    Thanks for helping me learn from your mistakes, not mine! [​IMG]

    Bryan
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2012
  2. Barred Rocker

    Barred Rocker cracked egg

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    I'm afraid I can't help you out much but I'm planning to try about 50 cornish cross myself for the first time this spring. From my understanding you're going to get a bigger bird in a much shorter period of time than a dual purpose. I'm planning to pasture graze my birds and also feed a protein rich feed. I'll be watching this thread to see what kind of answers you get.
     
  3. kizanne

    kizanne Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the literature does indicate they are heat sensitive but some have reported raising them in heat with no trouble. It partly depends on whether you go for absolute max growth or not. If you push the high feed for longer periods then they are pushing their breathing, heart and other organs which means they are more prone to those health problems. If you feed lower protein and restrict feeding hours then they grow alittle slower and they are generally more hardy.
     
  4. SIMZ

    SIMZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi! I hope you get more experienced responders, but I'll tell you what I can in the meantime. [​IMG]

    We've raised two batches of Cornish X and I really like them. They are very messy, so plan on using lots of shavings if you're going to raise them inside.

    With mine I started letting their food run out at night and then refilled it in the morning once they were about two weeks old. I didn't worry about it as much once a light wasn't on 24 hours a day because they don't eat in the dark anyway.

    I have used a starter/grower/finisher program with one batch. I fed my second batch corn along with feed as in Storey's guide to raising chickens. I know people who have used Flockraiser the entire time and the chickens did just fine.

    I have no experience with Welp. In my first small batch of 8 I only lost one as a new chick - it always slept and finally died. My second batch of 20 did great until I lost a bird the day before butchering. [​IMG] They were part of 100 chicks that friends and I split - one took 50 and didn't lose any, another took 10 and didn't lose any, another took 5 and didn't lose any. (Not sure on the other 20) I'd think in most cases you could expect them to do just fine as long as they're healthy to start and well taken care of.

    50 cornish would outgrow a 10 foot area pretty quickly. The 10 X 10 area should work. I've always raised mine in a coop with a run.

    You'll probably find a preference for slaughtering. The females grow more slowly than males, so you'd have some smaller and some larger if you process them all at the same time. A week makes a big difference with Cornish X, by the way. I'll do my next batch over successive weeks because I want some fryers, broilers, and some roasters.
     
  5. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

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    I understand they're dumb eating machines, and food should be removed for hours to keep them from outgrowing their frames. How many hours a day? Nighttime?

    I've found it's more of a personal opinion - I choose to free-feed, but many choose to withhold feed over 12 hours once they are couple weeks old. I don't like to withhold feed because of the sheer bum-rush of little bowling balls, and the mania that ensues when they all attempt to gorge at once (and fail to see the separate areas of food I put out, they all fight over the same freaking feeder). I like all of them to be able to eat at will, including any that might be shy of being in the crush. The pro's of withholding point to a more controlled intake and possibly a longer grow out with less health issues. I've not encountered health issues, but everyone's results vary.
    Is Purina Flock Raiser (20%) a good starter, grower, or finisher ration? (It's the principal feed for my mixed flock.)

    I feed the same 21% grower mix from my mill from start to finish. Since they aren't around long, it's just easier for me to not have to worry about a disruption in their feed and trying to change feeds on them. I feed crumbles from start to end. Again, just one less change for them (and me) to worry about.

    If I bought 50 birds from Welp, how many could I reasonably expect to live to slaughtering age?

    Anything from all to none [​IMG] They aren't a rocket science, but they do stress easier than layers (drastic temp changes, scares, and just being heavyweights). There is the chance of congestive heart failure when they get older, usually past the 8 week mark if they are still packing the weight on. When they're little, I've found they like to "pile" a lot more than the layers I've had - they crush together and form a ball of chicks, some that don't barely touch the ground. They can and will crush each other. Piling occurs when they get chilled.

    Would a 10 square foot (5' diameter) stock tank with brooder lamp and pine shaving litter work for brooding, then finishing in a 10' x 10' straw bale enclosure?

    I finished my last 40 in an 8'x10' section of my coop, and that was pushing it for space. I was putting 1/2 a bag of shavings down daily to keep them clean and not laying in their own muck. It can be done, but you will want to maintain the manure daily. They all started in the same area, but sectioned off in a 8'x3' area, and expanded to the full size around 4 weeks. You can start in the stock tank, but make sure the full size area is ready when you get them - they get big fast, and you may choose to move them out sooner than later. They don't feather out like layers as an indicator of when they're ready. I go by when the poo gets to be more than I can maintain in a day. [​IMG]

    Is slaughtering several birds over successive weekends an acceptable strategy, or is it better to process them all at once?

    It depends on how many weekends. I process on my own, so it's on my own time. I started processing at 7 weeks, and finished about 10 days later. Some days I did 4, some days none, and some days 10.

    Edit: Are CornishX particularly heat sensitive?

    If you can maintain the temps and gradually bring them up to the average heat, they should be fine. We had a few 80 degree days when mine were about 6 weeks old I think, and they were fine. Just watch them closely, keep ample cool, fresh water available, and be ready to take a few out if they show signs of extreme stress (bluish combs, over the top panting, etc).

    They are fun critters to raise, but they are created for a purpose - lots of meat in a short time. Once they get over that 8 weeks or so, they really start to show signs of the stress of being bred for short lives - heart failure, leg problems etc. Some folks can and will raise them to 10 and 12 weeks and even much longer, but it starts to get dicey and they will need a pretty regimented diet. I think it's best to raise them for their purpose and give them a clean, healthy life with the end in mind - it's gratifying to have a freezer full of meat you grew yourself [​IMG]
     
  6. growinupinfl

    growinupinfl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When Cornish Crosses are young they are very focused on eating, but I don't think they are any dumber than any other chicken to be honest. They are just bred to grow very rapidly, think of how a young teenager will do nothing but eat and sleep then suddenly grow 6 inches in a month. They are just on a GIANT growth spurt.

    I agree on feeding the same feed throughout growing and the free feeding. They will really hurt each other if you limit food time. Back to the teenager analogy, cut back when teenagers can eat, then see them bumrush the pizza buffet. That is what I did they came to be a pretty good size.

    Heat not much of an issue if you give them access to shade and plenty of water. I live in FL and we slaughtered ours in May and we had already been having some pretty dang warm days.

    I do not think I will ever raise 50 meaties at one time again. First of all it is really stinky even if you give them the "proper" square footage. Yes they eat a lot and poop a lot and that once a week shoveling out the pen as disgusting:sick. Either use tractors, more space, fewer chicks, daily shoveling or something.


    We slaughtered ours all on the same weekend we didn't want to have to set up everything over again. Yes it was tiring but it was done.

    I kept 4 cornish crosses and 4 freedom rangers 3 hens and 1 roo of each put them in an open yard of very good size and they developed beautiful feathering and I am now hatching my own meat bird eggs and it shall be interesting as to what pops out.
     
  7. Cowgirl71

    Cowgirl71 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We ordered 50 Cornish X males from Welp back in 2010, and they sent 53 (one DOA).

    We did the 12 hours with feed/12 hours without like Welp recommends. Ours averaged out at about 4.5 pounds each (dressed). We butchered the biggest birds at 10 weeks, and allowed the smaller birds another 2 weeks to eat and grow before butchering them as well. We didn't lose a single bird to any of the fast-growth issues. We lost a dozy chick in the first few days, and then also one bird at 7 weeks (due to rough handling from my younger brother).

    I read about another BYCer who got his/her birds from Welp and tried the 24/7 method and the 12 hours with feed/12 hours without method. S/He said that they lost a few birds due to growth-related issues using the 24/7 feed method, but that the substantially higher butchering weights of the surviving birds more than made up for the birds that died. We were somewhat disappointed in the growth rates of our birds, so next time we try Cornish Xs we'll try giving them feed 24/7 or maybe only withholding it a little bit, but not a full 12 hours.

    The males are definitely the most bang for your buck, but straight run will allow you to not have to butcher them all at once.

    Here's one big tip I can offer you... FEEDERS. The Cornish Xs quickly outgrow the common metal feeders with the sliding tops. We started them with these, and then at about 2 weeks switched them to hanging Little Giant 12# feeders set on the ground, and then at about 5 weeks switched them to some metal open-top feed troughs (by this time they rarely waste any food by scratching it out, they just park out at the feeder and eat). The troughs we used (which worked very well once the birds were "big") were about 4" wide, 3" deep, and 24" long, with some long pieces of wood nailed on the ends to keep the troughs from being tipped over.
     
  8. kfacres

    kfacres Chillin' With My Peeps

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    read my byc page
     
  9. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    If I ordered 50 chicks and all 50 arrived alive and healthy, I would expect to have 50 chickens to butcher.

    I've never raised Cornish Cross in close confinement, so I don't know if the small space you are considering would work or not. I like my birds to get out and move around. They are a lot cleaner if they have more space. They are probably healthier if they get fresh air, sunshine, and exercise (although nothing to compare it to, since I don't raise in confinement).

    I've only ever lost one Cornish Cross and that was a hen who drowned herself at the age of 6 months (note: Cornish Cross are not great swimmers)

    If I raise 20 ducklings, which are not as large as Cornish Cross, I start them in a 50 gal lamb tank, which is a large brooder, and then have to move half of them to another brooder which is 4 ft by 4 ft floor space. They have outgrown those two brooders by the time I can get them outside.

    A 5 ft diameter round stock tank will be large enough to start them. Depending upon your weather and when you can get them outside, I think it will get rather crowded. I suggest that you keep a back-up option, just in case you need to split them into 2 brooders as they get larger.
     
  10. Smiles-N-Sunshine

    Smiles-N-Sunshine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great information!!! Thanks, everyone!!!

    I'm still scratching my head on when to start this project. I also raise meat rabbits, which keeps the freezer well stocked until the temps hit the 90s in May. (I'm in the high desert of southeast Arizona btw.)

    Also thinking 25 birds would be better for the first time, as I'm a one person farm. I've successfully raised 24 ducks at once before, so hopefully this project will be a bit less messy [​IMG] Hooray for pine shavings!

    Thanks again, and keep adding suggestions! [​IMG]
     

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