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#1 2016-11-11 21:56:01

CathyJK
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From: Near Invermere, BC
Registered: 2012-12-02
Posts: 1199

Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

I think five years back was the first time we did meat birds - cornish crosses. I did free feeding, and I lost I think 20% (heat attacks, etc) and most couldn't move - not even to get out of the heat of the sun! We had to move them into shade and spray them with water to keep them somewhat cool.

Then I learned to limit feed, and we got way more small birds at slaughter.
Next year we let them grow longer and still not great results.
This year, had ok results, but they were 13 or 14 weeks by the time we took them in (long story, not being able to find someone to slaughter a 100 birds).

Read an article from the 80s where they fed chicks for 2 weeks at 24% and then at 22% until slaughter. Haven't even fed that high a protein, but maybe that is the problem.

Cornish crosses are bred to suffer - deformities, walking issues, heart issues, hock burns, breast blisters, totally incapable of foraging and scratching for food, fewer feathers means no going outside and under heat lights longer than other chicks, AND  all of the genetics come from three huge companies (WOW).

I can't contribute any longer to an industry that produces animals deliberately bred to suffer.

NEXT year, Mistral Gris - and they get to run around outside and be chickens!!

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#2 2016-11-11 22:35:23

Schipperkesue
Administrator
From: Carnwood, Alberta
Registered: 2010-04-08
Posts: 15589

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

I last raised Cornish crosses for meat about 13 years ago.  They were strong, interactive, healthy and happy chickens.  Has the 'formula' to create them changed in 13 years?  I kept mine outside, in an open pen where they could forage.  Unlimited food and water.  They had a shed to go into at night.  All lived to slaughter age and they were amazingly delicious!


Embrace your mistakes....they are life's most meaningful education.

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#3 2016-11-11 22:47:25

heda gobbler
I Love A.C.E.
From: Tatlayoko Lake, BC
Registered: 2009-01-26
Posts: 6878
Website

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

I couldn't stand it anymore either.   I concentrate on my White Chanteclers and Buckeyes, trying to improve the meat qualities of those birds. Also even have a small flock of a few dark Cornish - so much healthier and happier than the crosses.  Nice meat bird too!


Beltsville Small White Turkeys - White Chantecler chickens and Buckeye chickens
Highland Cattle, Shetland Sheep and Kerry cows.
www.tatlayokofold.com

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#4 2016-11-11 23:15:09

countrychicken
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From: mayfair, sk
Registered: 2014-01-21
Posts: 1100

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

around here can and have gotten them from 3 diff outfits. one is very much better than the others

even tho they weren't designed to be a long living bird. mine did alright till a certain point on free range and food all the time, then they are just too big. been trying to get some hens thru winter to breed next spring. I have a nice bhrama boy for them. didn't work last year as saved a rooster to breed hens (less mouths to feed was the theory) but he was to big and ungainly  to mount the girls.

I have a few old girls that were a black jersey giant roo X cornish X and that's what I'm hoping for. Have big beautiful breasts but prob top out 8lbs dressed. can perch etc.

Edit to Add: but for feed conversion and time to butcher cornish X can't be beat. not a pet type tho.

Last edited by countrychicken (2016-11-11 23:16:48)

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#5 2016-11-12 00:08:48

Tegaan
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From: Salmon Arm, BC
Registered: 2013-12-15
Posts: 559

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

I had 68 last year and they all survived. The foraged and moved around fine, ran and were able to move quite long distances. we fed 2 x per day after the first 4 weeks. They were good size, not records but not skinny. it does matter where and how you get them I think. We picked these up, so short car ride vs. days in the mail.

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#6 2016-11-12 00:36:02

CathyJK
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From: Near Invermere, BC
Registered: 2012-12-02
Posts: 1199

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

Tegaan wrote:

I had 68 last year and they all survived. The foraged and moved around fine, ran and were able to move quite long distances. we fed 2 x per day after the first 4 weeks. They were good size, not records but not skinny. it does matter where and how you get them I think. We picked these up, so short car ride vs. days in the mail.

Pick up vs long ride via courier, maybe.

What I learned was all the broilers come from three places - so not much diversity in terms of genetics methinks.

My birds this year moved around ok, but only fed twice a day and they weren't very big for 14 weeks - average was 6.5 lbs out of 100 birds we only had 4 over 8 lbs.  they certainly did not know how to forage or scratch around for food.

Maybe in part my expectations are wrong.

Regardless, going with Mistral Gris, birds that haven't had the chicken bred out of them.

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#7 2016-11-12 01:37:42

Tegaan
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From: Salmon Arm, BC
Registered: 2013-12-15
Posts: 559

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

I was going to do mistral Gris next year. So my thought was to try a few this year to see how they taste, grow , etc. It was a complete disaster....still do not know how they taste.

I will be buying from the same place as last year. They were great birds, they acted just like my other chickens, just did everything a bit slower and at a waddle :)

We also put ours out on pasture at about a 7-10 days old, if you wait too long they don't "get" the forage and scratch thing.

Sorry you had such a hard time with them. Good luck with the mistral Gris.

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#8 2016-11-12 02:39:01

uno
I Love A.C.E.
From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 5569
Website

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

CathyJK, you are right, those weights for 14 weeks are not great.

But there is a curve to how these birds gain their weight. If you miss out on optimum weight gain time, you cannot make up for it by keeping them longer. It's like there's a window of opportunity to get it right with the feed. I found this out the HARD way by underfeeding them to avoid crippling and I made skinny birds. I kept them longer than normal for them to 'make it up'. They never did.

I pick mine up in Armstrong and have no deaths, very little crippling and not many heart attacks. I do not pamper them, I do not give them medicated starter and I do not free feed them. This is in part due to bears breaking in to get food if there is any left in the feeders at night. So they are fed just enough that they eat it all before bedtime.

I DO think the strain of meatbird makes a difference. I had way more troubles when I ordered mine in the mail from Rochester. They finished a uniform size, but they were monstrous, blobby things. The Cobs that come from Armstrong have a greater variety in finish weight but seem more robust over their lifetime. Which is short. Longevity is not part of the plan.

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#9 2016-11-12 11:34:33

Journey's End
Moderator
From: PEI
Registered: 2009-08-03
Posts: 2211

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

We've been having worse and worse luck with the cornish cross. Last year we had three out of 30 that at 8 weeks dressed at under a pound each, and a 10% death rate. This year was absolutely horrible. 35% fatality. Nothing different than any other year we've raised them. Same feed, it wasn't a cold spring, summer was normal. I will not waste my money on garbage. So we're trying Nova rangers next year. Hopefully they're a little better.


Homesteading, homeschooling, hillbilly mama of three.

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#10 2016-11-12 14:58:08

Schipperkesue
Administrator
From: Carnwood, Alberta
Registered: 2010-04-08
Posts: 15589

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

I am wondering how much the delivery methods of the chicks is affecting their performance.  From my experience, a chilled chick will never grow and thrive the same as a chick that has been kept at an appropriate temperature.  I know many of these Cornish cross chicks are delivered by mail or purchased at a third party location. 

I always picked up my chicks at Millers and kept them warm with heating pads as I brought them home.  There was no third party to allow the cooling of chicks.


Embrace your mistakes....they are life's most meaningful education.

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#11 2016-11-12 15:52:16

jocelyn
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From: PEI
Registered: 2009-01-23
Posts: 948

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

Can we continue to compare notes on meat birds, as a pattern may pop out later.
We had 76, of which 3 died before a week old.  We fed unmedicated duck starter and housed them in a kiddies wading pool down cellar for a week.  They were bedded on clay from the garden, and moved outside to a school bus at a week old, also bedded with clay and sods.
We started killing at 8 weeks, and finished up at 10 weeks.  25 birds belonged to Sandy's buddy, and he picked them up at a week old, after we started them for him.  The smallest were between 3 and 4 pounds dressed, the largest just over 10 pounds dressed.  We lost 2 at about 5 or 6 weeks old, flip over.  They had full feed, duck starter, till about 5 weeks, plus all the grass they could eat.  We fed the occasional bag of chicks grower, but mostly duck grower, as its protein was higher and the energy level a bit lower.  One had a bad hock and we killed him at 8 weeks.  The rest avoided lameness.  Of the 43 we killed for our selves, the combined dressed weight was just over 310 pounds. 
We didn't remove dirty clay from the bus but added fresh dug soil and sod on top. 
That's all I can think of at the moment.
What are other folks using for bedding?  how are weights?

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#12 2016-11-12 16:11:47

CathyJK
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Near Invermere, BC
Registered: 2012-12-02
Posts: 1199

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

uno wrote:

But there is a curve to how these birds gain their weight. If you miss out on optimum weight gain time, you cannot make up for it by keeping them longer..

Absolutely true! And that weight gain happens by week 6. But my experience, limited as it was, if i fed enough to get the weight gain by 6 weeks, i lost too many to leg deformities, heart, circulation issues etc. BUT that was 5 years ago. I haven't had any issues with heart problems but also no big weight gain.

Also don't think the protein percentage is actually high enough in chick starter or grower to get the gains by six weeks.

Got my birds from Rochester/Millers.. all the same birds.

Last edited by CathyJK (2016-11-12 16:12:58)

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#13 2016-11-12 16:20:30

uno
I Love A.C.E.
From: Enderby, BC
Registered: 2009-02-22
Posts: 5569
Website

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

CLay bedding in a bus? I see a book here.

I use the evil, evil cedar bedding. IT has never killed anything. My youngsters don't die.

Sue might be on to something. I know that if they are fed too little in the beginning they never make it up later.

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#14 2016-11-12 16:32:46

Tegaan
A.C.E. Addicted
From: Salmon Arm, BC
Registered: 2013-12-15
Posts: 559

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

I guess it depends what kind of weights you want. I don't mind a bit smaller weights if the birds are healthier. I buy organic feed and my birds cost me $12.45 each. I bought 65 and was given 68, they all lived.

last year for 68 birds my weighs were:

Largest dressed weight 7# 5.2 oz
Smallest dressed weight 3# 12.8 oz
Average dressed weight 5# 11.8 oz

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#15 2016-11-12 16:56:29

jocelyn
A.C.E. Addicted
From: PEI
Registered: 2009-01-23
Posts: 948

Re: Last few years with Cornish Crosses - no more

Tegaan, what ages did you kill yours?  Ours cost us $8.80 each, including the cost of chicks and feed for the 5 that died.  I can look up the smallest dressed weight, and the largest, if that matters.  WE killed over 3 weeks, starting with the biggest, so they wouldn't get too big for 2 old fogies.  WE didn't have any breast blisters, and one lame one out of 48.  Let me see, we took home 76, 3 died.  Jim took 25 at a week old, yah, that was 48, and 2 died at 5 or 6 weeks, so we killed 43.  I dug soil and sod out of the ditch, then added a bucket of soil from a rich spot in the garden full of earth worms and other goodies.  We have a large school bus that is storage except for 11 weeks of the year, when it is meat bird housing (a week for clean up).  Feed...umm, full feed for us, although they did get a five gallon bucket of grass and weeds each day as well as bagged feed.  Duck starter is 22 percent protein.  We had a tin of oystershell available and refilled as needed.  I have used shavings in the past, and it didn't seem to matter one way or the other, so if I have time to dig clay, I do, as it's SOOOOO nice in the compost later.
Hey, Uno, chicks in school, school busses, little teeny desks, let them all out for recess.....

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