We are trying broiler chicks again this year. I am doing Cornish Rock Cross again. We didn’t have very good luck last year, but I feel like we should try again to really evaluate if it was the weather, the type of chicken, or anything else that I might have done incorrectly.
Last year I kept the chicks inside for 10 days like some article or book that I read. I can’t remember where the info came from, of course! I think it is Pastured Poultry Profits by Joel Salatin. After the 10 days, I moved them outside to our chicken tractor. It is chicken wire all around. It opens at the top to access the chickens. There is a roof on one side to protect the chickens from the rain.
Well last Spring, it rained non-stop. It rained and rained. Tne birds were cold and wet. Slowly they died, one by one. I ended up losing 12 out of 25. I am not sure if was the rain or the lack of shelter. The birds also had leg problems. I did the vitamin supplement that I bought sporadically. They grew so fast, it was weird. I was very apprehensive to do these again until I tasted the birds. They were GREAT! Nice, meaty, birds…and I knew what they were fed, and how they were taken care of… and that inspired me to give it another try.
I ordered another 25 birds. I will get them towards the end of April instead of April 1st. I am hoping for less rain. I will religiously give them the vitamin supplement with each watering. I will restrict their feed after 4 weeks. I have read feed am and pm, and no feed during the mid-day allow them to digest and clear out their gut. I have also talked to a fellow farmer who said to feed 3 days, none on the 4th day. The only problem with restricting their feed is that I FEEL BAD ABOUT IT.
The difference between the broilers and the Rhode Island Reds is amazing. The Rhode Island Reds take 16 weeks to maturity and the broilers take 7 weeks. The meat on the broilers is juicy and plentiful. The Reds are tough and there is a lot less meat. I have to cook 2 Reds to 1 broiler and the broiler still has more meat.
I have to do something as I have about $60 in these birds. I pay around $2 to get them processed, and pay for the feed. If I feed them and then they don’t make it into my freezer, I am losing money.
Have any of you done Cornish Rock Cross?
I have heard of Freedom Rangers, but our local hatchery doesn’t carry them. Do you like them better?