Friday, September 28, 2012

Cornish Cross Meat Chickens - Week 4

It was hard to believe when the little yellow balls of fluff arrived, that they would be ready to butcher at seven weeks old, but these wide legged white monsters are growing daily.  Looking straight on, they are stocky like a cross between a pit bull and an offensive lineman in the NFL.

Although this post is a bit late, these pictures were taken last weekend, just a day or two over their four week point of being with us.  Most of them are growing rapidly, although not totally feathering out, leaving pink bald patches here and there, with more up front and less in the back.  It is assumed that is another characteristic these are bred for, having fewer feathers, especially the little fluffy downy feathers underneath, making plucking easier.  We will know in three weeks.

They are very broad breasted and you can see that they are getting meaty.  These do sit around a lot more than the Red Rangers we had last time.  We do have about four or five that are medium size, and don't seem to be growing very fast.  These may not have gotten the genetic traits of their brothers, or they may be hens.  These will turn out to be "Cornish Game Hens", which are Cornish Cross chickens processed at about three weeks.  There is one that is tiny, and seems to be growing about at the same rate as a normal chicken.

Although 'Tiny' does have large feet.  For some reason, as soon as we go into the coop or let them out, the smallest ones run to hide out between our legs, maybe looking for cover not to be picked on by the bigger chickens.  All that fast growing and testosterone is starting to show as the chickens face of with each other in their pecking stare downs.  'Tiny' may get a reprieve on October 13th if he doesn't start bulking up.

So far so good overall.  We did have a hot day yesterday, and we ran out of water in one of the coops by the time I got home from work.  Several were panting heavily and we got water to them right away. One seemed lethargic, and I am assuming that was the one that was found "belly up" this morning in the middle of the coop.  

Having to feed and water them isn't too bad in the morning, although it doesn't get light until about 6:45am, so chores can't start too early.  But having to dig a hole in the woods to bury one before work, isn't my idea of a good time.  Youngest Son and Middle Son came to watch, and apparently found it amusing.

We added an extra waterer and feeder, so total we have two waterers, 3.5 or 5 gallons each, and three feeders in each coop with approximately 60+ chickens in each.  It isn't as tight as the 95 Red Rangers in one coop, but these sit around a lot more, which makes it look tighter.  We try to let them out as much as possible when we are home, which helps move them around a bit more.

It is supposed to cool down this weekend, so I will try to get my week 5 post up as on time as possible. Until then, thick nuggets!

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