Free-ranging meat birds? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Can someone tell me if I can free-range my cornish roasters along with my egg-layers, or must they be penned or kept in a chicken tractor?

#2- Will our two cats bother the birds more if they free-range?

#3- Will a 1 1/2' by 2' brooder be large enough for 12 chicks? For how long? (at 4-6 weeks how much space will they need?)

I can't seem to find the answers to these questions--thanks for any advice!

-- Tina Durie (, April 29, 2001


Tina-I have free ranged cornish rocks-they are still tasty but it seems like the meat is tougher, maybe it is my imagination. We have seven cats right now and they have never bothered my chickens, in fact the hens with babys have chased dogs away. I would think that your chicks could stay in a 1 1/2' by 2' brooder for only about a week-they grow so fast!! I use a kids wading pool for mine with a cardboard draft guard and a heat lamp. Hope this helps!!

-- cowgirlone (, April 29, 2001.


I just got my chicks a little while ago, so I had to figure this out as well.

If I remember correctly, the chicks will need 6 inches square each to start, then 1 sq ft ea. at 3 weeks.At 4-6 weeks, they'll need 1.5+ sq. ft. ea. (They really do grow enormously in the first few weeks.)

Best of luck with your chicks- they're an awful lot of fun to watch. : )

-- Kristin, in La. (, April 29, 2001.

I've got some free ranging now. I let them out of their tractor each morning and they just amble around, they went further when they were four weeks old, now they are six weeks and just stay within about 30 feet of the tractor. This is my first batch so I don't know if they will be tender or tough, I have nothing to compare them with. I only have 10 in this batch, but also have 25 2 week olds, I'm not sure if I'll be able to round them all up, although they do anything for food. I have four cats and they givr the large birds a very wide birth! It's all trial and error when you start, see what works for you best.

-- Carol Koller (, April 29, 2001.

Tina, Cornish-Rock crosses are bred to be commercial meat machines. Store-bought chicken is so tender and tastelss because the birds are confined and given free choice mash. Birds will be tougher and have a greater proportion of red meat if they free range. The taste may be different too because of a more varied diet free-ranging. We have heard from many sources that the crosses grow too fast to free-range, because they end up with a lot of broken legs and bruised breasts.

-- David C (, April 30, 2001.

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