Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
We will be raising about 1000 meat birds this season. We will raise a combination of CX, FR and Barred Rocks as well as butcher the roosters of our Buckeye that we raise as Layers,
LOL...I've only had experience with raising my DP birds and eating the spares and the culled hens and some experience with the CX~and it was a good one. You sound like you have more experience than I!
I always look at total cost when thinking about placing meat in the freezer and the CX are the cheapest and quickest way to do that, hands down. The reason everyone has trouble with them is that they are overfeeding, penning and not compensating for the increased metabolism of these birds. You really don't have to feed them high pro feeds to get good finish weights but you might have to wait a couple more weeks for processing~and who's in a rush? A dual purpose or regular Cornish will be an even longer wait, so time shouldn't really be an issue.
I free range these CX and not in a little pen that get dragged across the grass(that is worthless, IMO, as the grass is soiled in the first 10 min. these birds are on it and is inedible, merely gets trampled and looks like they actually ate it but they will always prefer the feed if it is present all day~and it usually is in the current methods that people use.)
They will forage, just like any other bird, until they get heavy breasts..and they will still forage but may have to rest in the heat of midday. They love cool weather and are more active then. They need their bowels cultured and electrolyte replacement, as they drink lots of water to replace fluids lost in liquid stools. The trick is to figure out the problem and eliminate it~feed fermented feeds to replace bowel cultures, give unpasteurized ACV in the water to replace electrolytes, feed once a day towards evening to encourage free ranging and foraging all day long.
Fermenting feeds is easy...you merely soak their feed ration overnight in warm temps(72 degrees and above) and it has started the fermentation process. Easy. The ACV is easy to find and divide into regular ACV to keep a steady supply of UP/ACV.
They payoff for the trouble(easier than the other way, IMO) of doing it this way? Way more meat than any other breed, same amount of feed, less time spent getting to finishing weights and more tender meat because they finish so young.
Last spring I raised 20, they were all extremely healthy and I had 100% survival rate, the carcass was healthy as were the organs, finished to 6 lbs. processed weight at 10 wks, were only fed once a day on the layer ration that all the other birds were eating. I placed over 120 lbs of meat in the freezer from 20 birds in 10 wks...it would have taken me 5 mo. and 40-50 dual purpose breeds to put that much in the freezer.
This year I ordered 50 CX from Central Hatchery in NE, at $.12 per chick(that's with shipping cost included). I'll be keeping track of money spent on feed and finishing weights and let everyone know how it all went. I'll be giving all fermented feeds this year, the ACV and be free ranging once again.