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Our Exclusive Insider Tips for Raising Broiler Chickens

This is just a fun post about our experiences with raising Cornish x Rock cross chickens.

On our Homesteading journey, we have trialed different types of meat chickens. Mostly for our own use but we have sold some with great results.

Here are the top ten things I have learned with raising meat chickens.

1.      They are their own mutant Frankenstein chicken.

For anyone who is new to the chicken scene, Cornish x Rock cross chickens are just that, a cross between two normal chickens that when combined create a Frankenbird of ginormous proportions.

Not only are these birds huge, but also they have thin, easy to pluck feathers as well. They are designed to be efficient meat birds.

2.      They are unable to breed or lay eggs.

Most chickens are sexually mature at six months old. Even if you did not butcher the chickens at eight weeks, they would die from obesity or heart related issues.

If by chance they did live to the six-month point, the cockerels (young male chicken) would not be able to mount and breed with a hen. If a hen were to be bred, she would be too obese to pass an egg and would become egg-bound and die.

It is far more humane to butcher them at six to eight weeks.

3.      They are very food aggressive.

I learned this with the first group that we raised to butcher. Every time I would put my hand in their coop, they would rush over and attack my fingers.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. I knew that if I fell in, they would not hesitate in trying their best to eat me alive.

Which brings me to my next point:

4.      Do not fall into the coop.

Enough said.

5.      They will eat until they cannot move.

It is important to feed them once a day. If given free choice food, the chickens will eat until they die. Fresh water should always be available.

6.      You must butcher them between eight to ten weeks.

We could not get our second batch of chickens butchered in time and by the time 13 weeks rolled around, our chickens were the size of turkeys. We told the butcher to halve anything over six pounds and they all came back halved. Some even weighed close to five pounds cut in half!

It is amazing what a difference a few weeks can make.

7.      They look like bats when they are too large.

We had trouble finding someone to help us butcher our chickens. We could have done it ourselves, but with the proper pieces of equipment, it makes a nicer finished bird with a lot less work.

Our second round of chickens were butchered at 13 weeks. In the end, most of the chickens were using their wings to help stabilize themselves as they walked. To me, they looked like bats crawling around on the ground.

8.      Difficult to free range.

With an appetite as large as a Cornish – Rock cross, free ranging them alone will not satisfy their over indulgent selves.

We do have ours outside on grass, but they do not scratch the ground as regular chickens do. They will however, eat anything placed in front of them, be it grass, bugs, or another chicken.

The chickens also cannot out run a predator, so we keep ours in a chicken tractor that my husband built. Every day we move the chicken tractor so the chickens get fresh grass to munch.

9.      Needs to be separated from layer chicks due to their size.

We start all of chicks together, and then around the three-week mark we have to separate them. Do not worry; it is easy to tell which are layers and which are meat birds.

If the birds get chilly, they huddle together to keep warm. Since the Cornish crosses are so much larger than their layer counter parts, the meat bird will accidentally smother the layer chicks.

The meat birds also tend to hog the feed trough and not let the layers get their ration. This can cause stunted growth and may cause a delay in egg production.

10.  They are delicious!

These chickens have been developed to be a high yielding meat making machine, and they are super tasty.

I hope that this post has given you some insight to the things no one else may tell you about raising meat birds.

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