Raising broilers (Cornish rock cross) can be a fun experience if you are prepared for the uniqueness of the breed. They grow extremely fast, are very messy and are not the nicest looking bird once they lose all their down.
Some Things To Consider
Speed Of Growth – The Cornish Rock Cross was developed to be ready for market extremely quickly. Depending on what percentage of protein the feed is that you use. They can be ready to butcher as early as 6 or 7 weeks old. They will only fit in tubs for maybe the first 5 to 6 days. After that, they will need something much larger link a kiddy pool. One option that worked well for us is asking your local grocer for one of those cardboard bins that watermelons or pumpkins come in. Then after the birds are going you can just drag the mess out to the burn pile.
Time of Year – This is something that will help save you feed in the long run for both broilers and other meat birds. Consider the time of year and the weather that comes with it. The broilers are not feathered out well to begin with. If they are trying to keep warm, the feed they eat will all go into keeping them warm and not turning into meat. So make sure that the average day and night time temps stay above 75 to keep them from getting cold.
Keeping fresh water available at all times is a must. As far as the feed availability it is up to you if you want to just give the recommended amount or keep the feeder full and they can eat whenever they want. Personally the more you feed them the faster they will grow. Once the birds hit 9 weeks their feed conversions slow way down. So the best thing to do is try to get them ready to butcher at or before 9 weeks.
Find the highest amount of protein you can get (above 25%) and they will be ready to go very quickly. In some areas, you can find some that top 30% protein. Now here is a tip that I learned while showing in 4h. The birds are judged on the firmness of the breast as well as their size. So to keep their meat from feeling “squishy” you can put their feed on raisers with ramps going up to the feed. This will help them get a little exercise and not burn too much of the feed off.
This chart below will help you figure out who much feed you can plan on going through with per bird as well as with 25, 50, and 100 birds.
Feed consumption Chart
|Age||Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Week 6||Week 7||Week 8||Week 9||Total # of Bags|
|One Bird||4.2 oz.||9.2 oz.||3.7 oz.||18.8 oz.||26.1 oz.||34.5 oz.||38.5 oz.||42.6 oz.||46.5 oz.||14.63 lbs.|
|25 Birds||6.56 lbs.||14.38 lbs.||21.41 lbs.||29.28 lbs.||40.78 lbs.||53.91 lbs.||60.16 lbs.||66.56 lbs.||72.66 lbs.||7.32 bags|
|50 Birds||13.13 lbs.||28.75 lbs.||42.81 lbs.||58.75 lbs.||81.56 lbs.||107.81 lbs.||120.31 lbs.||133.13 lbs.||145.31 lbs.||14.63 bags|
|100 Birds||26.25 lbs.||57.5 lbs.||85.63 lbs.||117.5 lbs.||163.13 lbs.||215.63 lbs.||240.63 lbs.||266.25 lbs.||290.63 lbs.||29.26 bags|
For how to butcher your chickens yourself read this post by Jill Wigner from The Prairie Homestead.