Les Farms


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Raising Cornish X for Meat – The TRUTH

If you do not want to read about chickens used for meat, you may want to skip over this post. We are omnivores here.. so we eat meat, and enjoy eating meat. If I am going to eat it, I am going to raise it if possible, and know that what is on my plate has had a wonderful life full of adventures and fresh air. I will not send my birds to the butcher either. I want them to spend their very best and the one bad moment here at our farm. It is less stress on the birds in the end, and those are my feelings on the subject.

So please, if you are vegan or vegetarian move along.. Don’t read this.. Unless you are looking for proof that chickens for meat can be raised humanely. They also can be killed humanely – and that to me is of the very highest importance. We are thankful for every bite of chicken we take. We know that the animal did not live in vain. They were raised with love and care and strict attention to detail in their management.

I feel a very strong urge to advocate for all the abundant misinformation about the common broiler chickens and their apparent disturbing behaviour everyone seems to go on about.

Here are some of the many labels I often see associated with the CX:

  • Disgusting
  • Ugly
  • Smelly
  • Lazy
  • Can’t walk (leg issues)
  • Won’t forage..
  • Lays in their own filth
  • Organ failure – heart attacks common
  • Stupid
  • Tasty (*this one is true*)

What you don’t know is that all of this has to do with improper management! If your CX are disgusting, smelly, lazy, spending much of the day sleeping in their own filth before dying of heart failure, it is YOUR improper husbandry that is the issue, not the Cornish X! if you don’t know any better on how to raise them, I can’t  really blame you. The feeding guides shown online make my jaw drop. No wonder your birds are laying around, pooping every 5 seconds and sleeping in it. It’s not your fault.  The instructions on raising the CX have mislead you. All the falsity is overwhelming. Threads on backyard chickens with the titles like: Cornish X’s = Nastiest birds EVER, does not help their case any either.

Last year I had written off the CX as a Frankenchicken based on all the info I read about online. I was dead-set against raising them on my free range only farm. I didn’t want to have birds penned up for their entire life..  I heard that they can’t/won’t free range… I put my foot down… Until I saw one video that made me second guess everything I’ve read about prior. Maybe they can free range and be chickens after all? I might as well give it a shot.. If they don’t pan out, I can at least say I tried, right?

This is MY experience with the Broiler better known as the Cornish X, CX or Meat Kings.

This is a week-by-week summary. You can read in more detail here.

*

Week One and Two (Days 1 – 13)

I had a rough time with them from day 1 to 14 It was extremely humid and incredibly hot.. we had a run in with Cocci and lost 7 CX and 10 RSL chicks. We did not treat for cocci, but offered electrolytes (Stress Aid) the day after we noticed low movement and puffiness despite the heat. They went quickly. Here you can not get Amprol without a vet’s prescription. It took me 48 hours to get my hands on some, and by that time the electrolytes really perked them up. The strong survived. After they were on grass, the birds were golden. No more illness (save one) who I moved back in and gave amprol (the only one that was ever dosed). Chick was fine within 2 days and back out with everyone.

Cornish Cross on their first day free ranging @ 15 days old With Easter Egger male who is 7 weeks old.

Two Weeks (Day 14-20) 

I opened the pop door. I continued to offer electrolyte water because of the heat being so stressful on the chicks. I found the first week they really didn’t go very far. They could not understand the concept of going BACK INSIDE at night. I had to pick each chick up and place inside the pop door (this includes the red sex link chicks).

Three Weeks (Day 21-27)

Finally the CX are spreading out and returning to the pen at night on their own. Real feathers coming in. They are a good 3 times the size of their hatch mates (the red sex link layers).

Four Weeks (day 28-34)

Really good at foraging now. They run as soon as they hear the back screen door slam shut. They want treats. They are getting closer and closer to my neighbour’s property line.

Five Weeks(day 34-40)

Almost 100% feathered out. They are passing our property lines and ranging two acres now. I do not like to watch them eat. They inhale food. I do love watching them forage, and they are very active. As soon as the pop door is open they are off..

AppleMark

Six weeks (day 40-46)

Not much change since week five for experience. They have grown some. They are ranging exceptionally well. No leg injuries save one I jammed in the sliding door of the barn. She will be the first processed. Haven’t lost a single one since cocci outbreak.


See video proof  of my CX birds free ranging @ 6 weeks (with other heritage birds.. and goats.. and rabbits). Many of them run like Phoebe on Friends :gig

AppleMark

Seven weeks (day 47-53)

I processed the girl with the injured leg. She was limping, but still got around. I didn’t want it to get any worse so she was processed along with three others. They were too small at this age. Roughly 3 pounds. We were going to do ten, but after seeing the first four gutted and weighed, we decided against it.

AppleMark

Eight weeks (day 54 – 60)

This is when most would start processing the CX. I figured they are still getting around very well, so I’ll give them a little longer.. May do the boys at 9 weeks..

Nine Weeks (day 61-67)

They were hogging all the food at feeding time from EVERYONE, so we processed the largest 10 boys at 9 weeks old. Averaged out about 4.5 pounds. Largest was 5 pounds, smallest was just under 4. Much more breast meat seen than at 7 weeks.

Cornish X - 10 weeks

10-11 Weeks (day 68-81)

picture is at almost 11 weeks – I have 28 left to process. 4 are boys, 24 girls. Two of the girls look very small. I think I may keep them to laying age. A strict feeding regime is important to do this.. I want to see what they will give out when bred to a Heritage Plymouth Rock. I know they don’t breed true.


At 12 weeks of age (88 days old) we processed 26 chickens. 22 pullets and 4 cockerels. You can see them in this video at that age. They were still extremely active and a good size. After they were processed (neck, feet and wing tips off) they averaged 5.5 pounds each. Smallest over 5 pounds, largest over 6. One chicken can feed 8 no problem (unless you are feeding teenage boys) 😉

All in all I loved my experience with the CX. They are not the monsters you read about throughout the meat bird forum on BYC.

What they are:

  • active,
  • intelligent
  • healthy
  • friendly

They are just chickens who just happen to be extremely food motivated, and were bred to gain weight at a 50:50 feed conversion ratio.

The poop smells like poop. The smell is not indistinguishable between any other breed of chicken I have raised. IT smells like poop. Keeping the litter dry and practising the deep litter method surely helps. If it is very humid out, I find Stable Boy helps greatly with the smell. They do poop bigger than other chickens their age because they EAT more.

If they are not allowed access to full feeders at all hours of the day, they will go on a mission, searching high and low for all of the food that our beautiful mother nature has to offer them. They are amongst the best foragers I have ever witnessed.

The only negatives I have noted is that they are food aggressive, so ample feeder space is required. They also do eat extremely fast and to watch them is not pleasant. It’s like watching a starving animal inhale their offerings twice a day. No matter what, they always seem to be hungry. They are not starving. Don’t let them trick you into feeding them at all hours because they INSIST they are starving. I don’t buy it 😉

Please help stop the misinformation about the Cornish X!

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My Experience with the Brinsea EcoGlow Brooders

To mark a very awesome contest we are holding on our Facebook Page thanks to Brinsea’s generous offer to sponsor our contest, here is a review of their product!

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Silver Pencilled Plymouth Rocks relaxing under the Brinsea EcoGlow 20

As you all know, in February we had a terrible fire due to overloaded extension cords resulting from heating brooders, waters, etc. Well clearly after that horrific experience we wanted to improve our methods of heating our chicks. We did a lot of research online about the Brinsea EcoGlow units, and I placed an order back in April. A couple weeks later my package arrived containing my four units that heat 20 chicks a each. Seriously, I should have ordered the EcoGlow 50!

I put the EcoGlows right to work, heating our chicks inside the house, as temperatures outside still dipped past freezing overnight. One downfall about this product is that it is recommended not to be used in temperatures lower than 50 degrees Fahrenheit ~ or 10 Degrees Celsius. The room temperature has to be at least 50F to heat sufficiently for newly hatched chicks. I’d tell you that I believe they state this just so they have their back covered, However, I don’t want to be blamed if you follow my experience and lose chicks because of it, so let’s keep it in the 50’s okay? I have let it dip down to the high 30’s and the chicks were warm and toasty. It wasn’t drafty, which is important.. it’s important to keep chicks draft free no matter what you decide to heat with.

These units would most likely work better for smaller operations because of this. How many of you brood your chicks inside the house? I assume quite a few of you do.. So there is no worries about the temperature minimum requirement. Since we brood our chicks in the barn, we had even designed a room in there that can be heated while the rest of the barn remains unheated.. just to run our EcoGlows year round.. That is just how much we love these units!

The dimensions of the EcoGlow 20 are: Length 13” (320mm), Width 8.5” (207mm), Height 8.5” (210mm). Weight 1.65 Lbs (750g).

The power consumption is remarkably low at 20 Watts! A traditional heat lamp bulb is 175 – 250 Watts. That’s only the bulb. The 20 Watts is the entire EcoGlow 20 unit.

Not only do the chicks thrive with this unit, I feel very safe leaving it on day and night without feeling anxious that it could cause a fire.

The EcoGlow allows for natural sleep cycles. The chicks will sleep all night under the warmth of the EcoGlow. If you have ever had to wean chicks off of the heat lamp, I am sure you know the distress they go through in the transition. Loud crying every night until they are used to the natural daylight cycle.

Despite the small dimensions, this unit does really heat 20 chicks until they no longer need the heat. It acts similarly to a broody hen. The chicks go under it as they need warmth, and come out when they need to eat, drink and scratch around. It only took a few days for our chicks to realize that the EcoGlow is an awesome place to roost.

This is one of the downfalls of using the EcoGlow over a traditional heat lamp.. There is poop that inevitably gets on the top of the product.

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A Partridge Silkie enjoying the top of the EcoGlow as they tend to do at this age.

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Two EcoGlow 20’s being used to rear 40 chicks in our brooder.

Have you ever reared chicks that were prone to flip? If you have not, you are lucky. I have had my fair share of ‘flippers’. This describes chicks who tend to flip onto their back and have trouble righting themselves the first few days, due to their belly being swollen and heavy from absorbing the yolk. Under a heat lamp they would often over heat and inevitably die while I was at work, not able to check on them every hour or so. Not with the EcoGlow!

Here in Canada you can order the EcoGlow’s from C. Botkin Enterprises  and if you live in the USA you can order them directly from the Brinsea website. But really, you should participate in our contest to WIN your very own Brinsea EcoGlow 20 in our Cutest Baby Poultry contest! Contest deadline is August 21st 2013, so submit your pictures on our Facebook Wall.

Rules:

  • Max THREE pictures per person
  • MUST be your picture!
  • Can be a chick, poult, keet, duckling or gosling.
  • Please describe your baby chicks. Let us know what they are: breed and species. If you do not know what breed, just let us know. Others will ask, so it’s best to mention it in your submission 🙂
  • Picture size should be at least 400 x 600, but can be larger.
  • You must LIKE our Facebook Page
  • Share this post


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All Gone

Well in case you missed it… 

Now I know everyone thinks that it won’t happen to you. I was like that as well. Yeah fires happen, but not to me. 

 

My ignorance was quickly shattered this Monday when we awoke to our barn in full flames. Nothing at all could be done. We lost everything: Two sheep, Four turkeys, Six Ducks, Four Geese, Roughly 100 breeding chickens, 20 chicks and our Livestock Guardian Dog, Clementine. 

 

This isn’t a thread trying to get your condolences, though I really appreciate it. I am heartbroken, yes. They were my passion. My dream. 

 

This thread is designed to make you think twice about what you do in your own barn/coop, and to open your eyes to the risks in things you may not even consider a fire risk.

 

  • The obvious – make sure if you have chicks in the barn/coop that you have your heat lamp SECURED. Do not trust the clamps. They can slip off easily and the heat lamp can fall to the ground and catch the shavings on fire.
  • Extension Cords – Please, please do not use these if you can help it. If you do have to use them, Make sure you are not drawing a lot of power from them (IE: Don’t attach an extension cord to a power block and plug a lot into them). 
  • DUST your lights and outlets regularly. Dust is a big issue.. You know how much dust a couple of chickens can create.. If dust builds up on heat lamps, or even regular light bulbs the dust itself can catch on fire.
  • If you use extension cords, use heavy duty, and only ones meant for outdoors. Make sure they are all intact and have no rips or tears in the coating.
  • Another extension cord tip: Do not staple them into the wall to keep out of reach of birds. If you hit the cord itself it can create an issue
  • Store baled hay AWAY from livestock. Hay/bedding storage should not be near lights, fans, electrical boxes, heaters or outlets.
  • Flammable substances should be kept away from the barn. (We had 5 propane tanks stored in the loft. BAD idea.
  • Improperly utilized heat lamps are a major source of barn fires. They are often placed too close to hay and bedding which may ignite quite easily from the heat. Never use extension cords with heat lamps. 
  • When storing newly baled hay, the temperature should be monitored. Adequate ventilation should be provided for additional drying of the hay. If too much heat builds up, spontaneous combustion can occur. (Never purchase hay that is hot –  because it can mean that it was baled too wet. In addition to being a fire hazard, the hay may turn moldy, making it unpalatable and unhealthy for horses to eat.)
  • Outlets and switch boxes should be made of metal and have dust- and water-tight spring-loaded covers that close when released. Ground fault receptacles should be utilized for all outlets.

 

  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by cyw iar View Post
    •  If I may, I’d like to also recommend that electrical wiring in barns be enclosed in conduit, and all permanent light fixtures be in cages, especially where the larger livestock might potentially break the bulbs by rearing or rough-housing.
    • And if you can, store hay and bedding in a separate building at least 30 feet away from your barns and house.
     

 

 

We went from this….

 

 

To this…

 

Fire can be prevented. Please be aware, and pass the message along.

 

If I can save any of you from the anguish I feel – I have served my purpose.

 

We are rebuilding.. I can’t stop living my dream… Despite the tragedy, I will move on. None of the animals will ever be forgotten. Please follow us on Facebook for any more info: https://www.facebook.com/LesFarmsCanada


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Clementine Killed Ida..

I came home to the worst day I’ve had since I’ve dedicated my life/time to these birds. Ida was dead and Clementine was responsible. I can not forgive the dog, so we are putting her up for adoption.

I do not have the patience to train her.. I can’t risk the lives of the very thing I want her to protect. It breaks my heart that Ida had to suffer like that. It’s too much for me to talk about right now. I’ve been crying non-stop all night.

We will miss you little Ida.. Our smallest little girl 😦


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Rosa & Tilly

Normally I don’t like to play favourites, but I’m totally head-over-heels in love with our two new additions. They are adorable, sweet, and oh-so-beautiful.

Tilly is the smaller of the two. They are Buff Toulouse. We have been wanting grey Toulouse for quite some time, and when Jamie said he had two day old female buff Toulouse, we jumped. They are sex-linked by colour by using a buff gander and a grey goose. The females will be buff, the males will be grey. If we want to breed them in the future, we can use either a buff and continue with the colouring, or we can get a grey gander and have all grey offspring.

The buff colouring is very rare, so it may be hard to find a buff gander. We have lots of time. It takes them over a year to mature enough for breeding.

At this time I am going to treasure their youth. Their yellow fluff.. their pink feet.. Oh they are so cute I could keel over.


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New Digs!

So much has happened since my last post..

  • We Moved to the new location
  • We bought a Livestock Guardian Dog (Maremma x Great Pyrenees)
  • We FINALLY got a frizzled rooster
  • We bought five barred rock chicks from breeding stock
  • We set 42 eggs in the incubator

First off, here is our new barn. The lot is 2 acres with lots of woods/land for the chickens to roam. You can see our LGD puppy Clementine in the picture. For now she is tied up inside the pen. She can interact with the chickens, but they can get away if they need to.

She is the calmest puppy I’ve ever met. She loves to sleep and only gets excited first thing in the morning, or after a long nap.

She does a lot of sleeping.. A lot of watching…

The inside of the coop. It used to be occupied by two horses when Susan was a child.

The new laying area. Only two boxes are used by all of the hens..

I built a separate brooding area. Olive took right to motherhood with the five barred rock chicks.

Here they were at 5 days old or so. I’m pretty sure I have at least 3/5 girls. They all are really dark in colour, but two have less of a dark wash on their legs.

Janet has officially given up raising the eleven almost 7 week old chicks. They are on their own. She started laying again on Monday.

The chicks are big enough to take care of themselves. I believe we only have two/ten that are boys. We lost one of the houdans (Clementine SAT on her).

Something caught Fern’s eye.

Probably wondering if George is a chicken or a hairball.

Believe it or not, this is actually Lorraine’s father. I convinced his owner to sell him to me. I wanted to breed a frizzle rooster to Harriet so desperately, and they are rare here. Very rare. I can’t believe he is mine!

So far he has not crowed. He is kind of a loner right now, but he was taken from all he has ever known.

That’s bound to stress a guy out!