Mongo and Carin are the same age but they are living vastly different lives. Carin lives with her “mom” hens and siblings and spends a lot of time searching for worms and grain. Despite having free choice high protein food available at all times she eats a wide variety of things and prefers to scratch and peck for a worm than sitting down by the feeder and chowing down. As a result she is pretty fit for a Cornish Cross chick and looks almost “normal”.
And then there is Mongo – who so fits her name! She is huge and lumbering. She is in a very large flight pen now so has plenty of exercise, sunlight, and time to scratch and peck. She tends to eat a lot from the free choice feeder and I think that is what is making her grow so large. But I also realized that Carin eats more corn than Mongo so am trying to transition Mongo’s diet to include more corn to see if that will keep her more slim.
As you can see from the picture above Mongo is larger and less balanced than Carin. When you pick her up its like picking up a ball rather than a chicken. But even though she is large and out of proportion she is still in pretty good shape compared to one of the other Cornish chicks. The chick below lacks any muscle tone and is very sparse in her feathering. She has trouble getting around and just eats all day. I guess this is good for commercial poultry operations but I can’t help but feel sorry for her as the other chicks fly and run and play around her.
This experiment is interesting and depressing at the same time. It appears that genetics, environment, and food all factor into the health of these chicks. But seeing how these factors can be manipulated to optimize weight production is really depressing to me. I prefer to see chicks living happy chicken lives.