I suppose that most people who are working towards a goal, research and follow other people who are achieving that same goal. Both Philip and I follow several homesteading groups online. Cornish Cross Broilers are a frequent topic on these forums. We were quite intrigued by the fast growth of these birds. When Philip and I found some chicks in our local farm supply store we were rather overzealous in our purchase. Between two farm supply stores, we ended up with 32 adorable fuzzy yellow Cornish cross broiler chicks. As with all of our chicks, we settled them in their brooder in the Florida Room.
A Full Brooder of Cornish Cross Broilers Chicks
When we put those chicks in the brooder both of us said….they sure looked like a lot of birds in there! We quickly learned that Cornish cross broilers are quite different than the other chickens we’ve raised. By the second day, they had been booted out of the Florida Room. Due to the smell, they found themselves in the garage, much too smelly to remain in the house.
Even as chicks, they are extremely messy! These birds were going to require frequent cleanings, minimum of daily, but twice daily would be better. We split them into two brooders in hopes of minimizing the mess, but no matter what we did they were filthy. Literally, all these birds do is eat, sleep, and poop. No matter how hard we tried, they were constantly laying in poop, so much so that they lost all of their yellow fluff on their bellies.
Since they were so messy, Philip decided we needed to bathe them. I have to say that is the first time I have ever bathed chickens. Once they were bathed and dried with the blow dryer and returned to a clean brooder. We actually bathed them several times because they are so very messy.
Time to Move Outside
Even though the chicks were pretty small, to help with cleanliness, we moved the chicks to an outdoor pen during the day. They seemed to enjoy the grass, but still, their activities remain limited to eating, sleeping, and pooping. We were also beginning to hear sneezing chicks. It was imperative we get that under control before we lost our birds.
High Protein Grain and a Lot of It
The broilers were on a high protein grain. They were fed 28% to 30% protein grain depending on what we could find. Due to covid shortages, grain was difficult to find. For the first week, the chicks were free fed, access to grain 24/7. Following that they were on a 12 hours on/ 12 hours off feeding regiment. Since these bird will literally eat themselves to death.
Charting the Course
I wanted to test the growth theory of the Cornish Cross broilers. So I set out to weigh and measure the broilers weekly. We found a chart online that outlined expected growth rates. So I wanted to see how our birds measured up. We didn’t weigh them all but took a sampling. We tried to weigh the larger ones and also the smaller ones, keeping notes of both extremes. Our birds frequently were exceeding the growth chart!
Moving into the Barn
The broilers quickly outgrew their grass yard so we moved into a pen in the barn. Here we could rake the pen daily and turn the soil weekly to try and keep them clean. You can see above how few feathers they have. I think it’s partially due to laying around all the time, but also due to how quickly they grow, their feathers don’t grow as fast as their bodies do. The first thing they did when they got in their new pen was all take a sand bath. The sand had to have felt good on their skin.
Not Your “Normal” Chickens
In reading about these bird, I read an article about how the broilers seem uncomfortable in their own skin. I have to say I agree. They waddle around, they don’t behave like “normal” chickens at all. I tried to give them a post to roost on, in hopes of keeping them clean, but they wouldn’t even climb on it. However, I ended up removing it because it was just in the way.
|Week #||Date||Low Weight||High Weight||Average Difference|
|Week 1||7/26/2020||7 oz.||10 oz.||8 oz.|
|Week 2||8/2/2020||15 oz.||1 lb 3 oz.||9 oz.|
|Week 3||8/9/2020||1.68 bs||2.2 lbs||15 oz.|
|Week 4||8/16/2020||2.88 lbs||3.22 lbs||1.2 lbs.|
|Week 5||8/23/2020||4.12 lbs||4.86 lbs||1.64 lbs.|
|Week 6||8/30/2020||5. 20 lbs||6.30 lbs||1.44 lbs.|
|Week 7||9/6/2020 (due to travel)||7.20 lbs||9.6 lbs||3.30 lbs.|
Very Fulfilling Project
Of all the projects we’ve done, I have to say I really enjoyed raising the broilers. They are a LOT of work and a real challenge to maintain but they are a short-term project that yields a high reward. Unlike most chickens, broilers are raised for this specific purpose, meat. The Cornish cross broilers don’t reproduce on their own, they are a hybrid cross between other breeds. We had only one bird that failed to thrive, she had leg problems and wasn’t able to compete for food, we butchered her rather than let her suffer. Broilers grow so fast they are prone to heart and leg problems and will die if not butchered timely. Check out butchering day that is right around the corner.
About the Author: Barbra-Sue Kowalski grew up on a small hobby farm. She was always drawn to farm life, however, she was stuck in an urban life far from her roots. Barbra-Sue was a single mom for 13 years, raising her 3 children on her own. She met Philip in 2018 and they married in 2021. Between the two of them, they have 5 grown children and 4 grandchildren. These empty nesters are following their dreams! As they both turn 50, they are building their off-grid homestead to live the life that they dream about. Learn more about Philip and Barbra-Sue here. Contact them here. To leave a comment on this post, please scroll down.