After many months of pondering, I took the plunge and ordered meat chickens. Cornish cross. I had many hesitations, the main one being, who's going to process them for me? I've never killed anything before, not even a fish while I've been fishing.
I asked for some help on Craigslist and had a couple of offers to teach me and do the actual processing. So, that was what I needed to convince me to order them.
I ordered 38, received 39. They came in a week ago this past Friday. I'm thinking they were hatched that Wednesday, so they are now 12 days old. I was shocked about their growth. They eat like they're starving whenever I put the food in their brooder. They climb over each other and stand on each other in order to eat. They sleep in the food dish.
They are growing so fast. Here's what they look like today compared to my hand.
I am too grossed out by their dirtiness to pick them up and hold them, so I'm just putting my hand next to them. If any of you know chickens, you will realize that this is not typical for a 12 day old chick. These guys are huge! And hot. That's really why I can't hold them, without the typical feathers of a chick, I can feel their body heat. It's awful.
Their legs are huge too, they have thunder thighs and really large feet. They're just all over giants.
I'm trying to raise them humanely. I have them in a good sized brooder, they're not overcrowded nor do they have too much room to move around an hurt themselves. (being so large, they can injure their legs with their weight.) I'm feeding them starter/grower feed. They have water available to them constantly and I am adding vitamins to it. I have a heat lamp on the brooder, but I only turn it on at night and it's angled out the corner now, just to make sure they don't get chilled overnight.
Speaking of heat...I made a bad discovery yesterday. It's been raining for a few days, and I didn't realize it, but the chicks tend to freak when it rains. They piled into a corner of the brooder and smashed some of them under the pile. They were fine one minute, then gone the next. I'm glad Troy was with me when I discovered them. He helped me with the "burial".
So, now we are down to 30.
I have plans to build their tractor early this week and get them outside permanently. They've been out a couple of times when I've been cleaning the brooder, but they don't seem to enjoy it like the other chicks. I hope once they're out all the time they'll have more fun.
Here's a pic of them hanging out in the brooder.
You have to admit, they have the potential to be cute. See the little guy with the "toy" in his mouth. He's going to be my class clown, I think.
Keep checking back for updates.