Feeding Cornish Chicks: A Guide to Healthy Growth and Nutrition

Feeding Cornish chicks is a crucial aspect of raising these fast-growing birds. Cornish chicks, known for their meat production, require proper nutrition to support their rapid growth and overall health. In this article, we will explore the nutritional requirements of Cornish chicks, discuss feeding practices during the early weeks and transition to grower feed, and provide guidelines for managing their diets to promote healthy development.

You may also want to read about the best chick brooder heater.

Understanding Cornish Chicks

Breed Characteristics

Cornish chicks, also known as Cornish Cross or Cornish-Rock chicks, are a popular meat breed known for their efficient meat production. They have a fast growth rate and develop a robust body frame.

Nutritional Requirements

To support their rapid growth, Cornish chicks require a balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs. High-quality feed formulated for meat-producing poultry is essential to provide the necessary nutrients for their optimal development.

Feeding Cornish Chicks: The Early Weeks

Starter Feed Selection

During the first few weeks of life, Cornish chicks should be fed a specially formulated starter feed. Look for a high-quality starter feed specifically designed for meat birds. These feeds have higher protein levels and contain essential nutrients for proper growth.

Feeding Schedule and Portion Sizes

Provide a consistent feeding schedule for Cornish chicks. Offer feed at regular intervals throughout the day, typically three to four times a day during the first few weeks. Monitor their appetite and adjust the portion sizes accordingly to avoid overfeeding or underfeeding.

feeding cornish chicks

Water Availability

Ensure a constant supply of clean and fresh water for Cornish chicks. Place waterers at a height that allows easy access for the chicks without the risk of drowning. Check the waterers frequently to ensure they are not contaminated or empty.

Transitioning to Grower Feed

Age for Transition

Around the fourth or fifth week, Cornish chicks can be transitioned from starter feed to a grower feed. The exact timing may vary based on the chicks’ growth and development. Consult the recommendations on the feed label or seek advice from a poultry nutritionist.

Gradual Feed Change

To transition to grower feed, introduce it gradually by mixing it with the remaining starter feed. Over the course of a week or so, increase the proportion of grower feed while reducing the amount of starter feed until the transition is complete.

Managing Cornish Chick Diets

Protein Requirements

Cornish chicks have higher protein requirements than other poultry breeds. Ensure the grower feed you provide contains an appropriate protein content, typically around 18-20%. Adequate protein intake is crucial for muscle development and overall growth.

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements

A balanced diet is essential for Cornish chicks, including sufficient vitamins and minerals. While a well-formulated grower feed should meet their basic nutritional needs, consult a poultry nutritionist to determine if additional supplements are necessary based on your specific circumstances.

Avoiding Excessive Growth

While rapid growth is desired in Cornish chicks, excessive growth can lead to health problems. Avoid overfeeding or providing excessive amounts of high-energy treats. Monitor their growth rate, body condition, and overall health, and adjust their diet accordingly.

Feeding Practices for Healthy Development

Providing Adequate Space

Cornish chicks require adequate space to move and exercise, promoting healthy muscle development. Provide a spacious and well-ventilated coop or brooder to ensure they have enough room to grow and stretch their wings.

Encouraging Natural Foraging

Allowing Cornish chicks access to natural foraging opportunities can enhance their diet and encourage natural behaviors. Offer grass, insects, or safe foraging materials to supplement their feed and provide mental stimulation.

Monitoring Weight and Health

Regularly monitor the weight and overall health of your Cornish chicks. Keep track of their growth progress, and if you notice any abnormalities or signs of poor health, consult a poultry veterinarian for guidance.


Proper feeding practices are essential for the healthy growth and development of Cornish chicks. Providing a balanced diet, following a feeding schedule, and managing their nutritional needs will help ensure they reach their full potential. By monitoring their health, adjusting their diet as needed, and providing a suitable environment, you can raise healthy and thriving Cornish chickens.


  1. What should I feed Cornish chicks for optimal growth?
    • Feed high-quality starter feed during the first few weeks, then transition to a grower feed formulated for meat birds. Ensure the feed contains adequate protein levels and essential nutrients.
  2. Can I free-range Cornish chicks?
    • While Cornish chicks can be allowed to free-range, they may have limited mobility due to their rapid growth and heavy body frame. Supervise their outdoor activities and provide a secure and spacious area.
  3. How often should I feed Cornish chicks?
    • During the early weeks, feed Cornish chicks three to four times a day. As they grow, adjust the feeding schedule based on their appetite and portion sizes.
  4. Can Cornish chicks eat table scraps or kitchen leftovers?
    • While some kitchen scraps may be suitable as occasional treats, their primary diet should consist of balanced commercial feeds. Avoid providing excessive amounts of high-energy or fatty foods.
  5. What should I do if my Cornish chicks are not eating?
    • If your Cornish chicks are not eating, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. Ensure their environment is clean, check the temperature, and monitor their behavior. If the issue persists, consult a poultry veterinarian for advice.
About the Author
The Poultry Feed Team

The Poultry Feed Team

I am Ehsan from The Poultry Feed Team. We all started out as poultry novices ourselves, so we know just how confusing it can be to try and figure everything out on your own. That's why we're here! We want to help you become the best caretaker of these lovely feathered animals.