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making the best of raising cornish rock cross

 
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I watched Justin's vlogs and none of his Cornish Cross chickens keeled over or had bent legs. One was eaten by a snake. He started them off with honey and raw apple cider vinegar in their water and fermented feed along with free ranging. He was very pleased with his success. Don't have a link to his vlog. They're on YouTube.
 
Mother Tree
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Jerry Sledge wrote:I watched Justin's vlogs and none of his Cornish Cross chickens keeled over or had bent legs.



Does he try to keep any alive to breed from though?  I've heard of a few people who have managed it, but so far none of mine have.  I can slow the growth right down by having them live purely free range, but eventually they just get too big anyway.  Keeping them for the short while it takes to raise them for meat is ok, but then you're dependent on buying in replacements.
 
Jerry Sledge
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Meat only, none for breeding.
 
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Location: W. CO, 6A
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My thought on this is like with hybrid veggies: use them for what they are intended.
Hybridized veggies can grow bigger, faster, and have have better disease resistance, with the caveat that saving seed to replant is like a box of chocolates. I'm sure you can finish the quote.

I have chosen to rethink my stance on hybrid veggies from being unaware, to totally against, to ok in some circumstances.
Obviously, you don't want it interbreeding with your heirloom landrace veggies.
Or do you...hmm. Perhaps a discussion for another time.
 
pollinator
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Oh, Cassie! so glad you brought up the forbidden word....compromise!  I know there are other words used in this 'arena' (not on this forum, however ;)... puritan, perfectionist, slackers, halfwayers,etc... all with appropriate sneers, etc; passing judgment is so.... human!, automatic, and feelgoody.... but I think we need to work on being 'slack-cutters'.  Let's live and let live, and acknowledge that we are all 'permie sinnners' in somebodies eyes (hope I never meet those 'somebodies', and our 'hawks' pick them off pretty quickly on this forum).  I'm probably judging the judgers right here, but I vote for live-and-let-live.... even Jean Martin Fortier and Stefan Sobkowiak acknowledge that they could not have their marvelous market garden and permaculture orchard without black plastic (here I could put in a plug for silt fencing material... but I won't :).

So, thanks for the opportunity to say that.... and I LOVE PMNA !!  So veeery well done ;)
 
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Location: Aroostook county maine
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Burra Maluca wrote:The problem we had with them, after we'd sorted out how to make the things walk around and forage instead of sleeping with their heads in the feed bowl, was that their skin is so soft that within a few weeks of them reaching 'finishing size' their feet wore through.  We wanted to keep them for breeding and were very hopeful that the rooster, who was a little smaller and slimmer than the hens, would be a good meaty cross for our laying flock.  But after he wore great holes in the bottom of his feet just from waddling around in the grass he wasn't going to much use to use, so we ate him. 

This a photo of one of the young hens, with her legs bowing under the weight...



This one is sulking as I'd found her hiding and made her stand up and get some exercise...



And this is the rooster, at exactly the same age - noticeably slimmer!  But the skin on his feet couldn't take the strain of exercising and, although we kept him longer than any of the hens, he still didn't make it to breeding age.



We also bought a 'freedom ranger' rooster who was much better at foraging and grew at a sensible-ish rate, but his feet wore through just the same and he lost the ability to walk within days of starting to crow, so he was no use to us either.  Except for the pot.



It wasnt bumblefoot was it?
 
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I've been looking at raising cornish rock cross and have been scouring the internet for strategies and best practices.  Apparently, the key to keeping them healthy is to put them on a strict feeding schedule.  You can't just let them eat as much as they want or they'll eat themselves to death.  Give them a ration of food in the morning, more in the afternoon, and then once more in the evening.  Beyond this, they'll need a lot of grass to forage on.  This keeps them moving (as opposed to falling asleep with their fat beaks in the feeder) and gets them to eat a lot more grass and other greens.  Most of that grass will go right through them, but their bodies will mine the grass for vitamins and minerals, and the exercise is good for them.

They'll still gain weight and will be ready to harvest in about 13 - 15 weeks (rather than 11 or 12), but will be much more healthy.  Basically, you use their "super power" to your advantage (they just want to eat, eat, eat) and force them away from the empty food tray and get them out into the pasture.

This WILL NOT WORK if you have a mixed flock of other birds, as the cornish rock cross will eat all the food up and leave nothing for the slower eaters.  You need to separate them.  The other breeds can eat when they want, but you can't leave a CRC in with them or they'll just hog all the food.

If you use this strategy with a chicken tractor, you may need to move your tractor 2 times a day (or more, depending on the # of birds you have in there).

As with most things permaculture, its all about management.  Yes, this requires a lot more work than just filling up their feeder with all the food they can scarf down in a day, but it will yield a much healthier bird with few of the problems (legs, heart attacks) associated with CRC.
 
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Location: Middle of South Dakota, 4a
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Great thread on this topic! We just started raising meaties last year but only lost two total, out of 24. One crushed under heat lamp by eleven siblings, the other suffered a leg injury around 3 weeks old. While she still got around by 5 weeks it was obviously painful and failure to thrive so we culled. I think part of it is the small batch flocks, harder for them to crush each other and plenty of room to move. We use a 8x8 chicken tractor. Food in one corner, water in the other so they HAVE to move (I do the same in the brooder box). After 4 weeks they get fermented feed twice a day and forage the rest. We regularly give them kale and spread a little seed to promote foraging, always keep fresh water available and move them to new grass each day. Our second batch had to go to 10.5 weeks due to our freezer not showing up on time and we had no age/size related loss even though one dressed out at 8.5lbs! The rest were 6.5 to 8lbs, dressed. We did see a fluid around a few hearts so I don't think they would have survived much longer.

Our third batch arrives in a few weeks, I'm currently messing with my food recipe to perfect it for them. After this batch we plan to try some Red Rangers, and I'd love to be able to produce our own chicks someday.
 
Posts: 81
Location: A NorCal clay & rock valley
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Not sure how active this thread is anymore and no I didn't read every post, too long and 10yrs old...

However scanning through I see the same themes and I fail understand how this bit of info hasn't trickled down.

My background is in poultry and animal science. I did extension agent work at my uni, then went to work for the poultry industry specifically broilers until I had a full mental break from being expected to cover all the territories and they fired me.

Anyway, there is a very strong hate to the cornish cross and it needs to be addressed. Those birds were designed and bred to eat and gain quickly. (Chickens are awesome for being able to quickly breed a new generation!) They hatch out hungry, cute and funny to see em mass, but they are doing exactly what they were bred to do.

However, from my courses those cornish cross, were never selected for their innards... Which means lots of heart attacks and other "fatty" problems...bad legs, joints etc. It's been 20yrs, so I don't know how much it's changed. I doubt much, since innards still aren't a trait chosen for breeding. The whole gamut of the breeders for the cornish cross we get to order are ALL on a very restricted diet so that they can breed.

Those birds will also never EVER NEVER breed "true" as they are a culmination of an 8 way cross to the terminal cross. Anyone looking for sustainable fryers need to be looking at the big duel purpose breeds. And maybe playing with your own genetics on farm.

I don't have personal experience with these red broilers, freedom rangers/red rangers, but I suspect they are from either hyline or Hubbard lines that were part of the European line that they like to use for broilers, bc our white broilers lack flavor and they tend to like their birds older. Those birds will also NOT breed true, no matter which ones you hold back for breeding. It just won't happen. Those lines also have strong foraging traits. Over in europe they tend to be doing more pasture type operations (last I knew anyway, so don't quote me). I've notice too the red lines (layer hen types I'm familiar with) seem to have an aggressive streak...more feather picking, etc. I've seen other posts elsewhere with the same issues with confined red broilers.

I believe new folk getting into broilers have some crazy expectations too when they start them, then end up a with terrible flock because of inexperience and unsure management. Sure follow any fun homesteader and they have some broilers, but you've also not seen their failure with them either starting out. Maybe stories.

Broilers are not a duel purpose breed, which I find more small homesteaders are really after once the core of the problem has been revealed.

That said, folk have their favorites. If you love the reds great, that doesn't mean the whites are junk. Same vice versa. Your tools need to match the job and your pocket book to be sustainable.
 
pollinator
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Last year I kept three of my meaty tweety girls to see what would happen with breeding to my barred rock rooster.  One developed breathing issues and had to be culled and we harvested her at 9 lb. The second injured her leg and at harvest was 12.5 pounds. Number three is alive and well running, well waddling, with the rest of the layers.  She lays a giant egg about 5 out of 7 days.

I was curious to see if this will result in larger layers.  We incubated some of her eggs and I have 3 chicks that will be her descendants.  I just really hope they all aren’t roos!
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Meaty Tweety and cat
Meaty Tweety and cat
 
S Ydok
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Tina Hillel wrote:Last year I kept three of my meaty tweety girls to see what would happen with breeding to my barred rock rooster.  One developed breathing issues and had to be culled and we harvested her at 9 lb. The second injured her leg and at harvest was 12.5 pounds. Number three is alive and well running, well waddling, with the rest of the layers.  She lays a giant egg about 5 out of 7 days.

I was curious to see if this will result in larger layers.  We incubated some of her eggs and I have 3 chicks that will be her descendants.  I just really hope they all aren’t roos!



Cute picture!

Even if they do end up being roosters, should end up eating well. Could try turning them into capons. I've only seen the kits, never done it to myself.
 
Tina Hillel
pollinator
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Any Roos will be sent to freezer camp.  I can only keep one and hoping to not have a repeat of 14 roos like last year.  I’m just curious as how a daughter would be as a layer.

For someone who was a horrible student in school, this is a major change 😀
 
Roses are red, violets are blue. Some poems rhyme and some don't. And some poems are a tiny ad.
"Permaculture Now! - Desert or Paradise?" movie by Sepp Holzer
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