If you’re looking to raise chickens for meat, then you’ve come to the right place.
Cornish Cross chickens are a popular breed for meat production due to their rapid growth rate and high yield of meat. However, many commercial farms raise them in crowded and stressful environments with the use of medications and hormones.
In this guide, I’ll show you how to raise these birds naturally, without the use of medication or artificial hormones, to produce healthy and delicious meat. You’ll learn about selecting the right feed, keeping your chickens healthy, and even experimenting with unique A-frame coops.
So, let’s dive in and discover how to raise Cornish Cross chickens the natural way!
Choosing the Right Feed
When it comes to choosing the right feed for your chickens, there are several factors to consider. One of the most important is the quality of the ingredients. After doing some research, I decided to go with Scratch and Peck Organic Grower 20.5% crumble with grub protein. This brand is soy-free and organic, which is important to me because I want to raise my chickens without the use of medications or hormones.
While Scratch and Peck was the only soy-free organic brand available in my area, I have had great success with it in the past when raising laying hens. The high-quality ingredients provide the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development. The grub protein in the feed is also a great source of protein for the birds.
To ensure that my birds are getting the nutrients they need, I allow them to free-feed for the first week. I also add an electrolyte solution to their water, which has worked well for my laying birds. The solution is a combination of filtered water, apple cider vinegar, honey, and garlic. This helps to keep the birds hydrated and healthy, and also boosts their immune systems.
When choosing a feed for your chickens, it is important to read the ingredients carefully and choose a brand that is high-quality and meets your specific needs. By doing so, you can help ensure that your chickens are healthy, happy, and productive.
Feeding Medication-Free Feed
Feeding medication-free is a choice I make for my chicks as I prioritize their health and well-being. While medicated feed may seem like a quick and easy solution to prevent diseases, I have found that feeding them organic, soy, and corn-free feed has resulted in much healthier birds overall. By choosing to avoid medicated feed, I can ensure that my birds are not consuming any unnecessary antibiotics or other medications that could potentially harm them or even lead to antibiotic resistance.
In addition, feeding my chicks an organic, soy, and corn-free diet helps to mitigate any potential heart issues that are often associated with this breed. I believe that a natural and healthy diet is the key to raising strong and vibrant birds.
As I take meticulous notes on the feed I provide and the resulting growth and health of my birds, I will be able to determine the feed/meat/cost ratios in about a month. This will give me a better understanding of the long-term benefits and cost-effectiveness of my feeding choices. Overall, I am confident that feeding medication-free and choosing high-quality, organic feed will lead to healthier, happier birds in the long run.
Raising Meat Chickens Naturally
Raising meat chickens naturally is a great way to ensure that the food you are putting into your body is free from harmful chemicals and additives. By avoiding the use of medication or artificial hormones, you can raise healthier and more natural birds. To achieve this, I have developed a feeding and care regimen that prioritizes the health and well-being of my chickens.
To begin with, I provide my chickens with plenty of fresh water and organic, soy-free feed. This ensures that they are getting all the necessary nutrients without any added hormones or medications. Additionally, I make sure to keep their living space clean and well-maintained. This involves changing the bedding a few times a week and composting it, which helps to keep the space dry and free from bacteria.
By following these practices, I have seen great results in my birds. They are healthier and more active, and their meat is more flavorful and nutritious. I also take detailed notes on my feed, meat, and cost ratios, which helps me to continuously improve my methods and ensure that my chickens are always receiving the best care possible. Overall, raising meat chickens naturally is a rewarding and sustainable way to provide healthy food for yourself and your family.
When it comes to harvesting time, I have chosen to do it at 4-5 weeks. Although this may seem like a short amount of time, my goal is to avoid any health issues that are associated with the breed. By keeping the birds on a natural diet and living space, I hope to provide healthier meat for my family.
Some other chicken raisers have voiced their concerns that the birds may be too small at this age and that their meat may be too mild and soft. While this is a possibility, I am willing to take the risk as my focus is on natural and medication-free meat.
Additionally, I have experience raising heritage breeds that have a firmer texture and stronger taste. So, I will be able to make a comparison between the two types of meat and determine which one I prefer. My ultimate goal is to provide my family with healthy and delicious meat that has been raised with care and without the use of medication or artificial hormones.
Notes on Raising Meat Chickens
Keeping detailed notes is an essential part of raising meat chickens successfully. By doing so, you can track their growth and development, monitor their feed intake, and make adjustments as necessary to ensure they remain healthy. This also helps in determining the feed/meat/cost ratios, which is critical in managing your expenses and profitability.
Moreover, providing fresh water at all times is vital to keep your birds healthy. Chickens require a constant supply of clean water to regulate their body temperature, digestion, and overall health. As such, you should check their water source daily and change it frequently to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria.
Another essential factor in raising healthy meat chickens is keeping their living space clean. You should change their bedding regularly and compost it, as it helps maintain the cleanliness of the coop and improves the soil quality. Proper sanitation is necessary to prevent the spread of diseases and parasites among your birds.
Finally, you should be open to learning and adapting your approach to raising meat chickens as necessary. While harvesting at four to five weeks may work for some chicken raisers, it may not be suitable for others. It is crucial to listen to the advice of other experienced chicken raisers, but also to trust your own instincts and make decisions based on your unique situation and goals.
Experimenting with A-Frames
I plan to move the birds to two small A-frame coops that fit exactly over my 4’x8′ garden beds with eight birds in each coop. I have used these as grow-out pens for my laying birds until about 2-3 months old. With the A-frames, I want to see how quickly the Cornish Cross grows and process early to make sure they are not overcrowded. I plan to do deep litter and mix it down into the bed and add more as needed.
In conclusion, raising medication-free meat chickens on organic, soy-free feed has been a rewarding experience. While there are challenges and uncertainties, taking meticulous notes and experimenting with different techniques can lead to healthier, happier birds. By providing clean water, clean living spaces, and the right feed, we can raise meat chickens that are free of medication and artificial hormones.
FAQs addressing some common questions about raising meat chickens organically:
Q: What does it mean to raise meat chickens organically? A: Raising meat chickens organically means that they are raised without the use of antibiotics or hormones, and they are fed organic, non-GMO, and soy-free feed.
Q: What are the benefits of raising meat chickens organically? A: Raising meat chickens organically can lead to healthier chickens and better-tasting meat. It also eliminates the use of antibiotics, which can lead to antibiotic resistance and negatively impact human health.
Q: How long does it take to raise meat chickens organically? A: It typically takes 4-5 weeks to raise Cornish Cross meat chickens to a size suitable for processing.
Q: What should I feed my meat chickens if I want to raise them organically? A: Feed your meat chickens organic, non-GMO, and soy-free feed. You can also supplement their diet with fresh fruits and vegetables.
Q: Do I need to give my meat chickens any medication or supplements? A: No, if you are raising your meat chickens organically, you should not give them any medication or supplements unless they are sick and require veterinary care.
Q: What are the health issues associated with Cornish Cross meat chickens? A: Cornish Cross meat chickens are prone to heart and leg problems due to their rapid growth rate. By raising them organically and processing them at a younger age, you can avoid these health issues.
Q: How much space do I need to raise meat chickens organically? A: You should provide your meat chickens with at least 2-3 square feet of space per bird. If you are raising them in a coop or run, make sure to provide plenty of ventilation and keep the area clean to prevent disease.
Q: Is it more expensive to raise meat chickens organically? A: Yes, organic feed is typically more expensive than conventional feed. However, raising meat chickens organically can be more cost-effective in the long run if you are able to sell the meat at a higher price due to its quality.
Q: Can I raise meat chickens organically if I live in an urban area? A: Yes, you can raise meat chickens organically in an urban area as long as you have enough space and follow local regulations regarding backyard chickens. You can also consider raising quail or other small poultry if space is limited.