Raising chicken for fresh, healthy meat is a great privilege. And one of the best meat birds out there are the Cornish Cross chickens. They are all around amazing birds for the small homesteader. But don’t just take our word for it. Keep reading about our Cornish Cross chickens: pros and cons.
How Are Cornish Cross Chickens Bred
Before we jump right into the pros and cons of the Cornish Cross chicken, let’s look at their breeding. These chickens are the perfect combo of the Cornish hen and a White Plymouth Rock. In fact, most of the birds you eat at the grocery store are Cornish Crosses.
But before you go out to make this cross yourself, there are a few things you should know. The Crosses that we have today are not equal parts Cornish and Plymouth. We now have a superior rapid growing bird that makes the perfect dinner through lots of selective breeding.
You can get your Crosses at any hatchery online or in-store across the country. Some of these breeders might call them Jumbo Cornish Cross chicken or even Cornish Cross Rock chickens. But they are all the same with different brand names.
1st Pro: Fast Growing
The first thing that draws everyone to the Cornish Cross chickens is their speedy growth. These birds get just as large as heritage breeds in under half the time.
This fast-growing time is excellent for several reasons. The first being that speedy growing times equals less money spent on food and resources. Another reason you want fast-growing broilers is that it speeds up your turnover. You can go from coop to table in record times.
2nd Pro: Early Butcher Date
You might be wondering when to butcher Cornish Cross chickens. You can process your broilers as early as eight weeks old for the best meat, but no later than ten weeks. So when you make bring your chicks home, you should make an appointment with your butcher as soon as possible. And if you plan on doing it yourself, you should have the tools ready. The time passes faster than you think.
3rd Pro: Large Size
One Cornish Cross chickens: pros and cons is their size. It’s great because it means you will get your money’s worth. Cornish Cross chickens get up to 8 lbs with no problems. Who doesn’t want a plump broiler for the table? There is a downside to this, though. The main thing being medical concerns, but we are getting ahead of ourselves. You’ll see more about that later.
4th Pro: Cheap To Get
The Cornish Cross chickens are a surprisingly cheap chick to buy. A single bird costs $2.25 on average. However, if you want a large flock, buying in bulk can get your chick cost as low as $1.50. Yet don’t be fooled into thinking that these birds are cheap to keep. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that these birds have an early processing date. But more on that later.
5th Pro: Tender Meat
Owners rave about how tender the meat from Cornish Cross chickens is. They say that the meat is light and not tough at all. This is mostly because these chickens get butchered at such a young age. They don’t have the time to build real muscle that becomes firm with use. It also helps that the fat content on these chickens keeps the hens moist as they cook.
6th Pro: Mild Taste
Another fantastic thing about the Cornish Cross is that they have a mild taste. They aren’t gamey like pheasants, and they don’t have a strong chicken smell or flavor either. These chickens are the perfect combination of the Cornish hen and Plymouth Rock taste.
7th Pro: Can Keep In Chicken Coop Tractors
Cornish Cross Chickens are notorious lazy birds. They get huge quickly, and it prevents them from traveling too much. Many first time owners how to raise Cornish Cross chickens and cater to their unique needs. If you have a small flock, a tractor might be ideal for you. This gives your chickens the perfect variety of foraging materials, and it keeps the yard destruction to a minimum.
8th Pro: Friendly
Another pro to owning Cornish Crosses is that they are incredibly docile birds. You will grow accustomed to how friendly and entertaining they are. It might even convince you to keep a few around for a bit longer.
9th Pro: Cornish Cross Chicken Eggs
Since Cornish Crosses mature quickly, you can start expecting eggs around five months. But that means that you will have to keep your birds around past the 8-week processing date. For the first six months, these birds will give you an egg a day like clockwork. But maintaining these birds just for eggs might not prove worthwhile since they have short lifespans.
1st Con: Eat All The Time
Now that we know all about the good let’s look at the not-so-favorable Cornish Cross chicken facts. These chickens are endless pits. It seems like no matter how much you feed them; they are always hungry for more. The feed for broilers costs more than layer feed. And you go through it twice as fast with Cornish Crosses. All we can say is that it’s good these birds are processed at eight weeks. Otherwise, these chickens would eat you out of house and home.
2nd Con: Poop
We all know that what goes in must also come out. So all of that food your chickens eat produces more waste than most other breeds. You will have to clean out the coop of all feces every week thoroughly. Otherwise, you will become overrun with poop. But every storm has a silver lining, and in this case, it’s manure. You can compost these feces easily for your garden or sell it for extra cash.
3rd Con: Don’t Go Far
You would think that a chicken that doesn’t wander far is a good thing. After all, it means that they won’t run off your property, and it reduces the risk of predators. But it also means that Cornish Cross chickens aren’t great foragers. They will destroy whatever ground is readily available to them in search of grains and bugs. That is why we recommend a chicken coop tractor to prevent total yard destruction.
4th Con: Leg Troubles
So why don’t these birds wander far for food? Mostly it’s due to obesity. These chickens get so large so fast, and it makes it hard for them to move around. Many owners find that these chickens are prone to leg problems and bumblefoot because of their weight. Some claim that you can prevent these issues with weight management, but that defeats a broiler’s purpose. We want our broilers to get as large as possible in short timeframes.
Though we should always keep our chickens healthy. If your chickens aren’t healthy, then the meat they produce is also unhealthy. The best way to prevent leg problems for these chickens is to limit their chances of getting hurt. Clean conditions and reducing fall risks are a huge part of keeping up with your Cornish Cross legs.
5th Con: Heart Disease
As you can imagine, hens having so much weight and rapid growth does a lot on the heart. Many birds have a hard time keeping up with regular activity. And unfortunately, this means a lot of Cornish Crosses die from heart attacks. But this isn’t just the Cornish Cross. Most broiler breeds have these issues as well.
6th Con: Flip
When looking at Cornish Cross chickens: pros and cons, one of the biggest cons are health issues. One of the lesser-known conditions these chickens are prone to is Flip. Flip is another term for Sudden Death Syndrome. It mainly affects roosters, but any chicken can suffer from it. No one really knows why Flip happens. All we know is that your chickens might suddenly flip onto their backs and seemingly die for no reason at young ages.
7th Con: Short Lifespans
As you might have guessed, Cornish Cross chickens don’t have long lifespans. If you don’t butcher these chickens early, their average lifespan is only 18 months. That is, if another illness doesn’t overcome them before then.
8th Con: Not Dual Purpose Or Pets
The last point on our Cornish Cross chickens: pros and cons are that they aren’t good for anything but meat. Since these birds only have 12 months to lay eggs at best, it’s not worth keeping them for that. And with such short lifespans, it is depressing keeping them as pets. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t worth any trouble. They are fantastic birds for meat, and most people prefer their meat to any other bird.
So Why Should You Keep Cornish Cross Chickens?
You might look at this list and think that the cons outweigh the pros. But don’t think of it that way. We believe the Cornish Cross is a fantastic chicken for anyone looking to raise meat. They have all the qualities that you want and need in broilers. But they aren’t the cuddly dual-purpose breeds that most know and love. Instead, you raise these chickens with one purpose in mind.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Backyard Chicken Board!!