Click to purchase Day Old Cornish Cross chicks.
Cornish Cross Broilers grow extremely fast and are typically mostly feathered and ready to move to their outdoor space by 3 weeks of age depending on the climate. Until then, they will need to be kept in a warm, clean, and dry brooder, protected from predators and supplied with fresh food and water.
Watch a video showing their growth week by week from 1 week to process:
During the first weeks, your new chicks will need to be kept at a much higher air temperature than you would be comfortable with. At least 24 hours before your chicks arrive, you need to set up their temporary home, called a brooder, to provide the proper temperature. Find our Chick Brooding Checklist attached to this help desk article below.
A brooder should consist of the following:
A plastic tote, stock tank, wooden box, cardboard box, or swimming pool… something with solid sides to help prevent drafts and keep your chicks contained. If it has been used for poultry previously, scrub with 10% bleach solution and allow to dry before new chicks are introduced.
Pine shavings or similar bedding material. Do not use newspapers in your brooder. It is too slick for baby chicks to get a good foothold and can cause a condition called “spraddle-leg.”
A heat source for keeping the brooder at the proper temperature. This is often in the form of a 125 to 250-watt heat bulb. The bulb height will determine the temperature. Raise or lower the bulb to control the temperature to keep your chicks comfortable.
A thermometer placed at chick level in the brooder. 95 degrees is the ideal brooder temperature for the first week of the chicks’ lives. Then lower the brooder temperature by 5 degrees each week until they are fully feathered and ready to move outdoors.
Food and water in containers that chicks can reach but not crawl into or spill. Since cornish cross can easily overeat which can cause illness or even death we recommend feeding 12 hours on and 12 hours off AFTER the first week. For more information on feed recommendations and requirements please read our Poultry Feed Guidelines .
Upon the chicks’ arrival, carefully dip each chick’s beak in the drinking water to help them learn where their water source is located. Then let them explore their new home. They should start to eat and drink and will soon settle down for a rest. If the brooder is too cool, you will notice the chicks huddling together in a tight group directly under the heat source. Lower the lamp, increase the bulb wattage or make other adjustments necessary. If the chicks are too hot, they will try to get far away from the heat source and you may find them in far corners and avoiding the “spotlight." Raise the lamp, try a lower wattage bulb, or lower the temperature on the hover-type brooder. You want the chicks to spread out in an even pattern within the brooder.
While we do not anticipate a loss, Meyer Hatchery does cover losses of properly cared for birds that arrive deceased or that pass in the first 48 hours after the arrival. Losses must be reported within 72 hours of arrival. To report a loss with a recent order, fill out our Loss Reporting Form.
For the first few days to 3 weeks old:
- Chicks will spend most of their time eating, drinking, and sleeping. Keep a close eye on them to be sure everyone is finding the food and water.
- Since cornish cross eat a lot more than egg layers for rapid growth, this means that they will also poop a lot. Keeping their brooder dry and clean is essential to avoid respiratory or other illnesses such as coccidiosis.
- Once they are around 3 weeks of age they should be mostly feathered out, which means they can regulate their own body temperatures and are ready to move to their outdoor space. If the temperatures are cooler in your area they may still need a bit of supplemental heat in their grow-out space.
3 Weeks to Processing:
- Make sure to allow at least 6 inches of feeder space for each bird to ensure all get an equal amount of feed.
- A minimum of 2 square feet of coop or tractor space is recommended per bird for optimal growth.
- Make sure their area is protected from wind, rain, and other fluctuating weather conditions as this can affect their health and growth rate
- Cornish cross are typically ready to process around 7 weeks of age
Remember to feed 12 hours on/12 hours off after 1 week of age!
|Hatch - 3 Weeks||Broiler Starter - 21-22% protein|
|3 Weeks - Process||Broiler Grower -18% protein|
Estimated Growth Rate and Feed Consumption of Jumbo White Cornish Cross Boilers
|Age in Weeks||Average Processed Weight, lbs||Feed Consumption per week, lbs||Cumulative Feed Consumption, lbs||Feed/Gain|
Check out this great chicken tractor set up for raising Cornish Cross free range!