Tips on Raising Meat Birds

The Cornish Cross Broiler is a unique and remarkable bird. We like to think of it as the BBB – big breasted broiler – it has very broad breasts, large thighs, beautiful white plumage, and yellow skin. Its rapid growth and feed efficiency are incredible. You can see them grow before your eyes.

There are special steps to follow when raising our broilers. To avoid bad legs and ascites (A.K.A. “water-belly” or pulmonary hypertension), we recommend the following steps:

  1. Restrict access to feed to 10-hours per day for the first three to four weeks. Be sure the chicks have adequate feeder space so most of the chicks can eat at the same time. 
  2. Limit protein in the feed to 20-22%. We recommend the use of NatureServe Chick Starter/Grower, which contains 20% protein.
  3. Limit light to natural day length or 12-hours (whichever is longer). 
  4. Keep chicks warm with good ventilation but avoid drafts. 
  5. Keep air quality high by keeping ammonia low.
  6. Do not use straw for litter - use wood shavings.

If you want the birds to be a consistent weight at butcher, purchase either all pullets (hens) or all cockerels (roosters). If you want them to mature at different sizes, purchase straight run. The pullets also make great Cornish Game Hens if butchered at one to three-pounds live weight.