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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With the price if chicken sky rocketing around here, I thought I'd try my hand at raising meats chickens.

I've had flocks for the last 5 years but only for egg production so this is a whole new world.

I ordered 25 Cornish Crosses from Murray Mcmurray and they just showed up on Tuesday. Does anyone have any tips or the differences between raising chickens for eggs and for meat?

I plan on processing them at 8 weeks.

Thanks in advance

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Helpful Meat Bird tips
Key points in Bold for easy reading!

  • Some do a restricted feeding method with meat birds to keep them from out growing themselves. I don't but it's an option if you have issues.
  • Those birds should be ready roughly at 6-7 weeks give or take a week. You may want to up your processing date depending on birds and feed method.
  • If doing a gradually kill off, kill the cockerels first or prepare for crowing contest if you let them hit puberty. That and pullets reach weight later
  • Fatten them up before kill. It makes them more tender.
  • Don't keep past 10 weeks. That cross breed doesn't do well after 10 weeks but it will have a stronger flavor the longer you keep it.
  • Prepare for massive poop fest 2014. Meat birds poop 10x more than others. It's because they eat like a horse.
  • Be careful with newspaper. Newspaper can be problematic because it's slippery when wet and they will slip and hurt themselves. Cheap alternative is paper towels. Best would be pine shavings once they learn litter eating is bad. Straw needs to be changed often.
  • You may want to experiment with different meat birds. They all have different taste and tenderness. Some are more favored than others on tastes. Other breeds may have a stronger chicken taste but take longer and some can be less tender than others.
  • The breed you have is commonly used in commercial poultry because it grows fast and ends up juicy and tender. Reason it's more tender is because it can reach weight younger which leaves more fat to tenderize meat. It will taste like tyson chicken.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for all that great information.

I quickly learned about the newspaper issue for bedding so I went right to pine shavings.

I ordered 25 females but, being from a hatchery, I'm sure there is a roo or two in there. I was planning 8 weeks but it may be sooner.

My brooder, after a week, has become too small so I'm going to modify a coop outside for them. We're in Florida so we are having 80+ degree days near the end of February but I've got a red 250watt light to make up the hear at night that they need.

I'm sure this will be a alarming experience


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Thank you for all that great information.

I quickly learned about the newspaper issue for bedding so I went right to pine shavings.

I ordered 25 females but, being from a hatchery, I'm sure there is a roo or two in there. I was planning 8 weeks but it may be sooner.

My brooder, after a week, has become too small so I'm going to modify a coop outside for them. We're in Florida so we are having 80+ degree days near the end of February but I've got a red 250watt light to make up the hear at night that they need.

I'm sure this will be a alarming experience

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The slaughter time depends how you like meat. Bland but very tender like tyson chicken is around 6-7 weeks or you can wait just a little bit and they be as big as turkeys and have a stronger flavor. Be sure to fatten them up with treats and chicken crack if they older or they will be tough.

You may want to build a brooder/coop to the small turkey sq ft per bird

At 10 weeks they will out grow themselves. Cornish crosses are a cross between a cornish rooster and white plymouth rock hens. They don't exist past 10 weeks because they can't move well.
 

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I am going to be doing some meaties as well. I plan on harvesting at 8 weeks, rather then a coop the birds will live in a sled style tractor pen, which will be moved to fresh grass daily
 

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I raise Cornish cross yearly. They do move, and they do keep beyond 10 weeks. If kept in a closed environment and free fed, they will usually succumb to obesity and die fairly young.

I brood mine for 4 weeks until they are completely feathered, during his time they are fed freely unmedicated moistened chick starter, they then go outside in a barn with attached run. I start feeding them meals at this point, three times daily, with all they can eat in a 15 minute period of fermented unmedicated chick grower. After 2-3 weeks when they are a bit bigger, the doors are flung open and they free range for the rest of their lives. They have no problem covering an acre and a half area every day, though they do waddle a bit so certainly don't travel as far as my laying hens. I still feed them 3x a day, whatever they will eat in 15 minutes. They get kitchen and garden scraps with the rest of my chickens and will run like linebackers down to the deck for them. They are butchered at about 12-14 weeks and dress out between 7 and 9 pounds (11-13lbs live weight). If left much longer than that they start to lose weight, they trim up and look no different than a normal Cornish cross chicken (not one that has been selectively bred for years with a heavy influence of Cornish and white rock blood - they are not simply a cross of those breeds).
They even mate and lay fertile, hatchable eggs. I had 4 hens this year that I kept as an experiment in outcrossing for my own meat birds and they were 7 months old and healthy as anything until they got killed. They weighed about 6 pounds. Half their mass at 14 weeks eating unrestricted scratch and 2 meals of fermented feed daily. They are designed to get big quick and be killed young, after that they are pretty normal birds.

Because of their diets and living conditions they are very flavourful without barely any fat. The drumsticks sometimes get a little tough due to the fact that they are carrying around such a heavy body, so when I do up a batch I cook them for longer at a lower temperature. I have had no issues with any other part of the bird being any different than what I would find in the grocery store as far as toughness and I've only found them extremely juicy and delicious.
 
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