Cornish Cross Chicks

Our very first batch of meat chickens arrived last week.  We ordered 30 Cornish Cross that will be ready to butcher mid-July.  I know it’s hard to think of these balls of adorableness as “dinner,” but in 8 weeks they’ll be full grown and, due to their breeding, will have essentially reached their life expectancy.  In the meantime, we plan to give  them good lives with plenty of green grass, fresh air, and sunshine.  We are excited to be to taking on this new enterprise and to be able to provide our family the healthiest food possible.

We’ve been very upfront with kids that we’re raising these chickens for meat.  It’s important to us that our children understand where their food comes from, and that they grow up learning skills for self-sufficiency.  We want them to view this process as both normal and sacred.  It’s easy to see that food that has been lovingly cared for should not be wasted or taken for granted.

Already we’ve observed many differences between our “broiler babies” and their “layer baby” counterparts.  The Cornish Cross seem to be less active and more fragile.  They have fewer self-preservation instincts and we have instructed our kids to be especially calm and gentle with them.  We are glad to have limited ourselves to just one new farming venture a year as it is taking both of us some time to adjust to their specific needs.  In preparation for their arrival, we pored over many books and websites and downloaded as many relevant podcasts as we could find.  Our favorites have been Joel Salatin’s  (our favorite farmer-innovator-world changer-genius) Pastured Poultry Profits and the coop-casts (downloadable on iTunes) of Andy and Kelli of Chicken Thistle Farm.

Clyde built two of these hoop-style chicken tractors for our meat birds and to accomodate the fluctuating needs of our laying flock.  He has promised to provide a lot more details about their construction in the near future.  This particular tractor has some temporary modifications (a wooden floor and wall partition) so that it can double as a brooder house.  Once the birds have their feathers (about 3 weeks) they’ll be ready to go on the grass and will be moved daily for fresh grazing.  We’re already using the other tractor for this purpose with our “layer babies” who are about 6 weeks old–more to come on that as well!

 

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10 Comments

Filed under Chickens, Homesteading

10 responses to “Cornish Cross Chicks

  1. Jason Long

    I don’t know if you’ve thought of it, but we turned an old two gorse trailer into a mobile chicken coop. We are able to move our flock easily to new areas of green grass daily.

  2. Some day, I look forward to having chickens, and I think a tractor is the way to go. Love yours.

  3. Love to see the pic of your chicken tractor!! Kevin is busy preparing several for our new broilers. We’re wishing for a brilliant watering solution – can’t wait to show him your pictures. How are you doing water?

    • Mendy

      We have bell waterers like these: http://www.cornerstone-farm.com/equipment/plasson-waterer They’re a bit of an investment, but they work really well. They hang inside the tractor, but you empty/add water into a 5 gallon bucket on the outside (like the bucket you see sitting on top of the Salatin-style pens.) Our tractors have a little platform that holds the waterer and works as a handle so the tractors can be moved sort of like a wheelbarrow. I’ll have to include pictures and plans soon. We’ve had a rough year predator-wise, so we’ve resorted to attaching a line of electric along the outside bottom of the tractor. Sort of pain b/c we have to make sure the grass isn’t too tall around the line (we have a sickle we use to trim as needed), but much better than wondering if a scene of carnage awaits me in the morning. We processed our first batch of 30 in July (at Plucky’s poultry in Utica) and they were great (5.5-7.5 lbs after processing) –only 1 loss, a moving-the-tractor-too-late-at-night accidental smashing. Next year we hope to build our own plucker and scalder and do it ourselves. Hope all’s going well for you, would love to compare notes sometime…also, what kind of feed are you using? We used feed store type brand this year but are looking for alternatives.

  4. Janos

    Great work! 🙂

  5. Carl

    Tell Clyde I suggest to stack his wood on treated landscape timbers. Getting it up off the ground will help it season better and you should loose less of it due to rotting. Thx, Carl – Trenton,GA

  6. Beverly

    Can you tell me where you got your coop plans or if homemade are you willing to share how? I think your coop looks awesome!

  7. Jessica

    Hi! I would LOVE if you could share the plans for this coop. It’s exactly what we’ve been need for our meat chickens. Thank you!

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