Our mail-order baby chicks have arrived at the ranch! We ordered from Hoovers Hatchery Poultry and ordered 80 chicks. We are splitting them with my in-laws so I’m not putting 80 chickens in the backyard, don’t worry. We have 40 Cornish Cross which will go into the freezer the end of May, and 40 heavy-layer mixed pullets (baby hens).
The Cornish Cross chickens are a breed that are specifically designed to grow very quickly and be ready for butchering in about 8 or 9 weeks. The breed is known to convert feed into body mass very efficiently. In my opinion, too efficiently. The birds are difficult to raise and keep as layers because they break legs very easily and can even hurt themselves (as in kill themselves) jumping off a regular chicken roost. Bottom line – these are highly specialized chickens that cannot be part of a homestead backyard chicken flock. They just aren’t suited to it. Part of that really bugs me.
On the other hand, they were purchased specifically for butchering anyway. I call them “The Chickens Who Shall Not be Named” in an effort to avoid growing too attached to them.
The other 40 chicks we ordered are my favorites. It’s a mixed package of laying hens in a multitude of breeds. I see at least six different breeds so far and will get individual photos later as the chicks get a little bit older. Once they are ready to be outside on a more full-time basis, we’ll go to the ranch and pick out 10 or 12 for ourselves to keep here at the house and the rest will live at the ranch. I cannot wait to see what happens as these chicks (who probably WILL be named) grow up and I can better see which specific breeds we have.