Tony Hill

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since May 26, 2013
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Recent posts by Tony Hill

Well, we got our answer.

After 8 chicks, "Pen Mama" abandoned the rest of the eggs. One chick actually hatched that day, but she wouldn't keep it warm. The little guy would follow her, but she was busy giving lessons to the others to give it any attention or warmth. My wife called me and told me that the new chick wasn't going to make it. I got home and realized that the little chick was just cold. Really cold. So I reversed things, and put him under "coop mama".

Coop mama happily accepted the chick and chick dove under her. Excellent! The next day was when we realized that the mama in the pen had abandoned the last four eggs, and they were stone cold. Apparently, eight chicks was her limit. Or perhaps, it was more about the timing. Now she is in teach mode, not sit on eggs mode.

Anyway, we put the cold egggs under "coop mama" but after a couple of days, she rolled them out of the nest. They had died. But she continued to hatch chicks from the eggs she was sitting on. The other morning, I went to check on her, and I was surprised to see four happily peeping chicks!

Now we were in a quandry. Do we try to put the four new ones out in the pen with the others, or do we let coop bird try to raise them in the main chicken yard?

All seemed well in the coop for 2 days, but then I witnessed one of the red hens attack one of the chicks when it walked near her. I rescued it, but it was clear that the chicks are not safe in there. When I put the four new ckicks in the pen, they ran right to mama and snuggled into her feathers. BUT she cocked her head, looking at them funny. She got up, sniffed the new chicks, and started beating them violently!

Long story short, the mama hens do not get along, so I ended up building a second nursery pen, and now the two hens and 12 chicks are doing quite well. There are two eggs left, and another broody brahma is sitting on them. This has been an interesting learning experience.

8 years ago
Last year, our Brahmas got broody, and we had a successful hatch. The problem was that the other hens got jealous, and they killed all the chicks but one. I realized too late that I should have separated the young from the adult birds.

This year, all the Brahmas are broody again. This time, I put the most seriously broody hen and 10 eggs into a pen with a jumbo dog crate filled with straw. I even covered over the pen with netting, in case any hawks want an easy meal. Just as backup, we let a second broody hen stay on 12 eggs back in the coop.

The "coop bird" hatched the first chick. After watching another hen "stalking" the little one, we took that chick and put it out in the separate pen. She tucked it under her like it was her own. Then one of hers hatched, and another from the coop, and so on. Over the last couple of days, we've gotten 7 chicks, and have put all of them into the separate pen, and that hen seems very happy, but we are wondering how many chicks she can actually handle? We still have 15 eggs to go.

Now I'm wondering how it would go if I bring the second hen and put her in the small pen along with the others. Will the two broody hens fight and peck, or will they share the space peacefully?

What do you think? I just don't want to see any more chicks with bashed-in heads.


8 years ago
It's been years since my last post on this thread, and I wanted to post some updates.

After three years, I STILL love the cornish rock breed. We have experienced very low mortality. They are very strong foragers, and very hardy, so far.

The first year, we harvested all of the birds. Really good, dark meat, but we let them go for 12-16 weeks, mostly free range, so they were a a little tough, but still delicious.

The second year, we kept one of the big cornish hens to see if she would lay. Well, I'm happy to say, she lays a jumbo, champange colored egg every morning! She is a very good layer! And she is popular with the roosters, judging by her back feather condition.

We are allowing some of our Buff Brahmas to brood, and we have put some of the cornish cross eggs in the mix. Very curious of how they turn out. They will be either Cornish X/Brahma or Cornish X/Americauna. We are hoping for the Brahma mix. as those are bigger birds with a lof of "wild" instincts, and I think that would make a very desirable breed. I guess we will see!

But two thumbs up for the cornish Rock!


8 years ago

Chris French wrote:Killing the fox is the type of thinking that got us in this mess.
Foxes are an important part of the eco system, and closely related to your dog.

You will probably kill the foxes and complain about mice and rabbits next.

The fox attack never repeated. The dog does stays out at night. Problem solved.

But I am NOT into whining as you describe.

If I killed the fox, it would be okay, the same as if a coyote or dog killed one. There are large populations of both in our area.
The mice... our chickens eat them. They absolutely LOVE eating mice. They take out the snakes, too. Not many vermin live very long in our yard.

We have lost one chicken in three years. Not too bad. We have a really good German Shepherd. She herds them and is really protective. But I think putting her in the pen would test her a little too much. She kills animals regularly, and I don't want her getting annoyed at a chicken and discovering how tasty they are. That is hard to reverse once it happens.

8 years ago
they are good for 3 years if raised right. Raised right means free ranged with the rest of them.

I must disagree with the opening blanket statements, but agree 100% with the above. Our CX birds have been outstanding in many ways, including foraging and flavor!

We bring in some CX chicks in the spring, and throw them in with the rest of the birds. We do NOT continuously feed ANY of our birds, so ALL of them forage. And the CX chicks are the BEST foragers we have! Probably because they have to support rapid growth, they kill and eat stuff the other chickens are afraid of, including mice and snakes! Of course, ours don't grow as fast as one force-fed to death, but still, they grow much faster than our other birds.

We have 5 breeds, including some Buff Brahmas, which are excellent brood-birds, besides being delicious meat birds, and laying as reliably as our Reds and Sextons. Only problem with them, is they are so jealous, they will kill chicks that aren't their own, so you have to separate them once they are sitting on a clutch. But the chicks that make it are fast, tough and smart!

Take a CX and let it free-range, and you MIGHT be surprised at how well they range.

8 years ago
Here is a pic of the traps I'm using. I just tied it to a tree near the chicken run AWAY from our garden. There is a scented packet that attracts them, and then they hit the yellow plastic and fall into the catch bag below. I dump them in the coop every couple of days, and that makes for some happy chickens!

8 years ago

I tried using them without the bags, but that didn't work, as they would keep flying

But with the bags, it works well. The chickens love it! Unfortunately, its been cool and rainy, so I'm not getting as many as I wish. But they will come. They always do!

8 years ago
Our chickens LOVE Japanese Beetles. The eat them like popcorn. When they free-ranged, they would sit under the Rose of Sharon bush, waiting for free meals to drop Last year we collected jars full of them, and they would vanish instantly when we opened the jars.

This year, I had the novel idea of buying some Japanese beetle traps, hang them in the coop, and cut holes in the bottom of the collection bags. That way, when the beetles fell into the bag, they would end up on the ground and become free protein for my birds. I just hung the traps this evening, and can't wait until morning to see what happens tomorrow.

When buying the traps, the cashier warned me, "Those traps will attract more beetles to your yard. You will get millions of them!"
"I sure hope so!" I replied. Of course, she looked puzzled, so I explained my plan. She thought that was a great idea, as long as the chickens didn't get sick of eating them.

This seems like a simple idea to me, so I'm guessing that I'm not the first... Has anyone else ever tried this?

8 years ago

mick mclaughlin wrote:

I have read other folks on here talk about slowing the growth of cornish x, and I am not sure what the purpose of that would be? I mean, why buy a sports car and drive it slow? I mean these are petri dish un natural, freaks of growth. If you are gonna raise 'em, take advantage of their good points. They got big big breasts and they grow quick. There aint no other good points to them.

I have had excellent results with mt. healthy.

I also and would feed a straight grower mix. There are tons of reasons why your feed may be the issue beyond protein as well, but your protein is way, way way too low for cornishx. You might consider buying a commercial feed to get this batch through.

We decided to slow the growth rates of our CX's, The reason we chose to do it that way, was to have the chickens healthier, and so we didn't have to kill them all at the same time.

So instead of constant feed, we feed several times a day. Instead of straight grower feed, we feed a vairety, from grass clippings, to leftovers, and so on. And the results were outstanding. Some still grew very fast, but all of them are very active and strong and FAST. Something worthy of my dinner plate! So the big ones go first. Then a week or two later, another batch. In the end, some of them lasted 5 months, and every one of them was delicious.

This year, we did 18 of them, besides some others. Same pattern as last year, and we are about to process the first 5 or so this week.

Maybe not the best plan for commercial growers, but works great for us who are raising them for food.


8 years ago
A rooster will help somewhat, but won't save them from foxes, which there are a lot of in our area. But they are good for sounding the alarm, so the rest can run for cover.

But a good dog will deter everything.

If you get a rooster, I wouldn't worry much about being attacked. Never be intimidated, always hold your ground. If ever you are attacked, all you need is a switch. Pull a switch off a tree, and strip the leaves off. When the rooster comes at you again, give him a swift slice across his rump (or wherever happens to be closest) with the switch. And don't be shy, really slice him good! He will be shocked at first, and then bristle at your insolence, and probably come at you again after he gets his wits back. If so, then you do it again, this time YOU being the aggressor. Chase him and give him 4-5 good slices, then allow him to escape.

What you just did was put yourself at the top of the "pecking order" as you rightfully should be. It is unlikely that ANY of them will bother you again, at least for a long time.

Stories about hitting roosters with 2x4's and so on always end up with the rooster coming back on the attack. But for some reason, perhaps because the sting from a switch is memorable, or because the rooster was never unconscious, so the the lesson has time to steep in his brain- either way, the switch trick seems to work. IF you do it right, he will NEVER challenge you again. If he does, use the switch on him harder and chase him longer. All of the hens will follow and watch, and with every "SWISH!" of the switch, and following yelp from the rooster, they will ALL understand who the boss is.

Easy, simple and no permanent damage to anyone. Works well with all sorts of other livestock, too.


8 years ago