Original Post April 10, 2010
We are new to raising chicks- both meat and laying. Here is what we have learned so far.
Chicks smell. They poop A LOT, especially the cornish cross hens. Maybe that’s because we have 14 of them. Having them this long in the garage has been smelly.
Cornish cross chickens really are mutant chickens. They grow incredibly fast. They outgrew their brooder box, but weren’t yet old enough to go outside in their pasture pen. We put them out anyway, putting an igloo dog house in their pen with their heat lamp hook up inside. So far, so good, they’re still alive.
Did I mention that they poop A LOT and smell? Don’t put the pasture pen next to the house. However, for the extension cord purpose for the heat lamp, they needed to be somewhat close.
Unless you have the space and a plan, don’t do meat chickens and pullets at the same time. Due to the growth rate of the cornish cross chickens, the pullets can’t be in the same space. Plan the chicks to where there are only one set in the brooder box and pasture pen. This is what we had intended to do, but we ended up with 4 pullets that are the same age as the meat chickens- they were given to us and we couldn’t say no, lol. The pullets now need to be outside, but we didn’t want to build another pasture pen. We rigged something up for them, it includes that igloo dog house. It isn’t pretty, but it will do, for now.
Things we will do differently:
Have a bigger brooder box for inside the garage. We will still use the smaller one, it is great for the first couple of weeks. However, we need a space for when they are too big for that box and too young to go outside.
Get meat chickens in April, rather than March. They can go outside earlier without the cold nights.
We had a friend tell us to start pullets in July. This way they will go 18 months before molting- we will get more months of egg laying before their 1st molt.
We will NEVER do meat chickens and laying hens together. We just don’t have the space or the energy. Taking care of one set at a time (plus everything else we do) is enough.
I’m very glad we’re raising meat chickens. They are kind of creeping us out since they do grow so fast. In the future, when we can get the bigger chicken space and coop built, we will probably just do straight runs of dual purpose birds. But until then, the cornish crosses will do.
We are getting our next run of chicks after the cornish crosses have been processed. These will be the dual purpose chickens. We are getting some Americaunas, Red Sex-Links, Jersey Giants, and maybe a few Australops. It isn’t quite in July, but it will be mid-late May. I’m not sure the hatcheries around here sell chicks in July. Since we do have a rooster, we could hatch out our own, but that isn’t going to happen this spring. I do have some fertilized Americauna eggs sitting in the coop in a couple of boxes, hoping someone will go broody.
We really like our chickens and we’re glad we have them. Each year we add something new and each year, we take notes on how and what we can improve on. This spring definitely has been a learning experience with chickens!
Cornish Cross Cockerels- little boy chickens ;) This was taken just a few days before processing.