Breeding Cornish fowl for meat? Learn the calculations for pre-planning a feed budget and tracking your bird’s weight gain.
Written by Ann Gordon
Raising Cornish cross broiler chickens can be a great family adventure and, most of all, delicious. But it can also be disappointing; You might lose a few broilers along the way, or worse, your broilers might develop weight gain, leading to higher feed costs.
Working towards self-sufficiency…
Since moving into my farm, my goal has been to be self-reliant and sustainable, producing the majority of my food. To do this, it requires planning vegetable gardens, keeping laying hens, and raising cross-broilers on Cornish. It is not a hobby for me. The goal is to produce food in the most cost-effective way and with reasonable effort. Through trial and error, she has internalized a management approach to cross broiler rearing that mimics commercial broiler operations in terms of confinement, feeding, and keeping a record of the broiler’s progress.
…and cost efficiency
This cost-effective approach I’ve shared in previous articles will have broilers freezer-ready in 42 to 49 days and with final weights of 4 to 6 pounds. After that you will start to lose the quality of the meat and you will spend a lot of money and effort. Your Cornish Cross broilers at 56 days begin to produce significantly more manure and consume more feed, with your effort nearly doubling. And at the expense of high quality and protein-rich feed, it becomes very expensive to feed broilers after 56 days. After two years of less than stellar results, most people blame Cornish Cross and move on to other interests.
Most hatcheries provide graphs that track body weight and feed consumption by age for both cockerels and Cornish crosses. The Aviagen chart below represents performance standards as averages for all Aviagen strains raised around the world. With this chart, you can answer questions about broiler farming and its general progress:
How long will it take for the feed to be finished?
How much will it cost?
How much should I feed each day?
What is the acceptable growth rate?
What is your average target weight each week?
When can you plan the treatment day?
Simple Cornish Broiler Cross Tracker
Getting off to a good start with your flock of Cornish Cross poultry requires more than good preparation; It also depends on the day-old chicks arriving from the hatchery. When the chicks arrive, the first thing I do is open the shipping crate and assess the overall quality of the chicks. Pay attention to uniformity – the chicks should look alike.
Count the chicks to determine the exact number you received. Sometimes hatcheries add one or two extra chicks. Assuming the number of chicks you received could skew your records, skewing the total feed consumption data later. Repeat twice and enter this number in the log. It is the most important data point because all calculations will be based on this number.
When transferring day-old chicks from the shipping crate to the brooder, I always weigh 5-6 chicks to get a good idea of the starting weight of the entire clutch. Averaging those weights is my second entry in the log.
Forage tracking is also important because it helps determine how well broiler chicks are doing. Feed tracking also helps you estimate the amount and cost needed to finish the broiler.
Over time, I randomly weigh 5-6 chicks, average these weights, and enter it into the log. I compare my results to the averages provided by the hatchery where I purchased the chicks. If the average weight of the chicks is lower than planned weights at the same age, I need to assess what is going on. Was it cold and rainy or sweltering hot? Weather affects Cornish Cross growth rates. But I also take into account a number of other factors, such as adequate feeding space for all the chicks to easily eat until they are full. A little observation will help pinpoint the problem, which could be as simple as hard-to-reach watering.
If I don’t see anything easily amiss, I check the feed to make sure it isn’t moldy, smelly, or showing signs of anything else unusual. Then I check with the waterer to make sure there is no moss build-up in the lines, or kicking up manure or debris into the watering tray. You’ll be able to see what might be the problem, but more importantly, you’ll be able to remedy the situation before it really affects the broiler’s progress. Ironically, when you track the chicks closely, you won’t experience significant differences in actual and expected growth.
Track broiler growth
A simple chart, pencil, scale and calculator will do for tracking broiler progress. From there, you can make it simpler or more complex. Below is an example of how to track weight across the growth of a broiler.
I use the date of receipt as the first date and enter all other dates at weekly intervals. To facilitate comparison with the Aviagen Breeders Weight and Feeding Chart (above), I specify the ages of the chicks by week number as well as a representative number of days. I enter the weekly weights from the breeders and feed weight chart. If you order a straight run, just average the weights of the male and female and input that average. Each week, I weigh a representative sample of 5-6 chicks and enter the average. Once set up, record keeping is very simple. Each week, fill in the yellow cells:
Feed can be tracked by recording the number of bags purchased, noting the dates they were purchased, and stating the cost. Over the course of raising broilers on my Cornish Cross, I can see how consumption increases, and can budget for when I raise broilers in the future.
Once the broilers are processed, calculate the total cost of raising them. The sum of the cost of the birds themselves, the supplements, and the feed gives me the total cost. From there I can divide by the number of birds. And by weighing and recording each butchered carcass, I can then calculate the average cost per pound of final weight.
Once you have the recorded values, including a record of live weight and process weight for each chicken, you can then calculate the feed conversion rate (FCR).FCR) for your broiler flock. FCR The number of pounds of feed required to gain 1 pound of body weight. For me, it is FCR It is the gold standard. If you have FCR Calculates higher From the Breeders Performance Standards, you need to reassess how you raise your Cornish Cross broilers.
FCR = Total Feed Pound / Body Weight
Intake = total feed / # of birds
Weight = mean live weight
From the figures above, you can see that the broilers, even though they were below average weight for Aviagen, ate less feed to achieve this, resulting in their total feed conversion rate to Be a little better than Aviagen’s average performance. This proves to me that my general management approach to the Cornish Cross broiler breeding business.
This is part of a series of articles on broiler management on Cornish Cross. Here are links to other parts of the series:
Setting up for Cornish Cross success
Prepare your wire pens
Treat your birds humanely
Ann Gordon he Backyard chicken owner with a humble chicken operation that includes laying hens and Cornish cross broilers. And like many of you, she doesn’t sell eggs or meat — all produce is for her own personal consumption. She is a longtime poultry farmer and writes from her personal experience as a city girl who moved to the suburbs to raise a few chickens and now lives in a rural area. I’ve had a lot of experience with chickens over the years and learned a lot along the way – some the hard way. She had to think outside the box in some situations but stuck to the tried-and-true tradition in others. Anne lives in Mount Cumberland, Tennessee, with two English companions, Jack and Lucy.