Cornish roosters and chickens, otherwise known as Cornish Cross broilers, are a chicken breed developed for meat production. These birds grow quickly and begin to approach butchering weight as early as seven weeks for a bird between 1.36 and 1.81 Kilogram. For a larger roasting bird, closer to 4.54 Kilogram, raise until 12 weeks. Cornish cross broilers may be purchased through mail order companies or at a local poultry sale. The chicks must be handled with care for the first few weeks, and close attention must be paid to the temperature in the chicks' environment. As the chicks grow, they will gain resilience and become more tolerant of low temperatures.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Large cardboard box
- Chick waterer
- Chick feeder
- Broiler feed
- Heat-infrared light
Assemble a cardboard chick brooder between 36 to 48 inches high, allowing 2 square feet of space for each Cornish chick. Lay down bedding, 2 to 3 inches thick. Acceptable bedding includes straw, cedar shavings and sawdust. Fill a chick waterer with clean water and the feeder with a high-protein broiler chick feed. Sprinkle a teaspoon of grit into the feeder to assist the broilers in digesting their feed.
Place a thermometer in the brooder at chick level. Extend the heat-infrared bulb into the brooder at a height where the temperature comes up to 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. After the first week, raise the bulb until the temperature stays between 85 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Each week, the temperature may drop by five degrees.
Place each chick into the brooder gently one at a time. Dip the beak of the chick into the water and then place the chick near the feeder.
Monitor the food and water levels carefully each day. Do not allow them to run out. Clean the feeder and waterer as needed. As the chicks grow, adjust the level of the feeders and waterers to remain level with the chicks' back.
Continue raising the Cornish cross chicks until they reach the desired butchering weight. The roosters will grow more quickly than hens. Butcher the birds either all at once or over the course of several weeks, being careful to be finished by 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, the birds will lose feed efficiency.
Tips and warnings
- After your chicks have finished the first bag of broiler chick feed, switch to broiler finishing feed.
- Keep the brooder clean and dry at all times, replacing bedding as needed.
- Broilers may be raised on grass after they are heat tolerant. However, many experts believe this will make the meat more tough. The additional exercise may also cause the weight gain to slow down, lowering feed efficiency.
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