cornish cross
cornish cross
U.S. Department Of Agriculture / Flickr (Creative Commons)
  • Purpose: Meat
  • Eggs: Brown
  • Egg Size: Small-Medium
  • Color: White
  • Comb Type: Single

The most common and potentially most controversial of the chickens, the Cornish Cross is the modern broiler bird.

Though it is not a breed in its own right–it’s a hybrid of certain secret strains that include Cornish and White Plymouth–it is certainly distinct from any other chicken you will see. When you pick up a package of chicken breast or legs at the supermarket, it is certain that it is the meat of a Cornish Cross you hold in your hand.

Both praised for their rapid growth and decried as “Frankenchickens,” this is certainly a bird to stir up opinions and conversation!

Raise a heritage breed alongside the Cornish Cross hybrid, and you will soon see why they are esteemed for their ability to convert feed into muscle. These birds have a growth rate that is unsurpassed by any other chicken type.

They are typically butchered at 8 weeks, an age that some heritage chicken breeds may still be sporting a bit of baby fluff! Though they eat a lot, they have been specifically developed to turn their feed into as much body weight as possible.

The large, butchered carcass of the Cornish cross will satisfy every expectation you would have for a dressed chicken. With huge thighs and a wide, ample breast, it is the chicken meat that we’ve grown accustomed to.

Characteristics

With bright white feathers and a single red comb, the Cornish Cross will certainly stand out from other, more colorful birds. Everything about it is wide–from its broadly muscled body, huge breast, and yellow legs set far apart.

These are all clues to the influence of the Asil breed that contributed to its development. Even its face still carries a touch of the fierceness of its fighting ancestors. Those white feathers also result in a more “normal” looking butchered bird–you won’t have to worry about having dark pinpricks from colored feathers!

If It’s A Self-Sustaining Bird You’re After, Look ANYWHERE Else

That rapid weight gain and meat production comes at a price, and with the Cornish Cross, that price is their health, intelligence, and longevity.

These birds have been bred to eat, but with all that consumption, you can expect far more chicken poop on the ground than with other breeds. Of course, the cleanliness of a coop is the responsibility of the keeper, not the chicken, but these birds will keep you busy! That drive to eat constantly makes them large, but you must plan on monitoring their food intake so that they don’t overeat themselves to an early death.

As a result, the physical stress of creating so much muscle so quickly very often leads to leg problems and organ failure. The massive weight of their developing systems makes it usually impossible for them to perch, and they often prefer to sit on the ground.

Chickens can develop sores on their breastbones from having them pressed down for so much of the day. Cornish Cross need to be butchered so young in part because it is sometimes a risk for them to attempt to reach adulthood.

These bright white birds are also very easy for predators to spot if you are able to free-range them. Certainly the brawn and not the brains of the chicken world, you’ll need to do what you can to protect them.

What’s the Yield?

These birds are intended solely for meat production and produce meat they do. At their typical butchering age of 8 weeks, males will have reached 10 pounds and females 8 pounds.

Though many have tried, using this breed as a pet is almost guaranteed to end in premature heartbreak. Though they are calm in nature, a Cornish Cross would be considered ancient if it were able to reach 18 months of age, so a longer-lived breed like the Cochin or Croad Langshan would be a far superior choice.

Finally, the jury is out on attempts to use these hybrids for egg production. They are certainly capable of laying eggs, but since hens were never intended as layers, information on the frequency and quality of their brown egg production is difficult to come by.

Pictures Of Cornish Cross Chickens

Instagram post 17917926607346526 Betsy is beautiful, isn’t she? #kaporos #kaporos2018 #rescued #cornishcross #broadbreasted #friendsnotfood #chickensaspets #prettybird #chickens #hens #chickenphotography #roostersanctuary #rescuedhen
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Instagram post 17844975013663114 This is what greets me when I step outside for the first time each morning. Not gonna lie, walking through this bunch in flip flops is a nerve wracking endeavor 😂 time to bust out the #sloggers and protect my toesies from these dinos. •
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#backyardflock #chickensofinstagram #ducksofinstagram #rhodeislandred #welsummer #muscovyduck #cornishcross #freerangepoultry #happyhenslayhealthyeggs #smallfarmcharm #littledinosaurs #mytoesarenotfood #easttexasfarm #texasfarm #livingmybestlife❤️
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Instagram post 17996075008201093 Now everyone can sit at the dinner table 🐔 the Cornish Cross and Murray Big Red Broilers got upgraded from two small feeders to the long chicken tractor PVC feeder. I just had to wait till they were tall enough to reach over the edge of it so they could all eat • now I just have to get them trained on the chicken waterer nipples so I don’t have to refill their smaller waterers all day long.

#chickens #chickensofinstagram #meatbirds #meaties #cornishcross #murraysbigredbroiler #mcmurrayhatchery #chickenfood #chickenfeed #chickenfeeder #chickentractor #stressfreechickentractor
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Instagram post 17847804502106199 ☀️🔥 We planted A LOT in the garden today...So we got a six pack of ABC Strawberry Blonde and sat in our chairs and enjoyed tonight's sun set. Cheers! 🍻🌱🐓 #fowlcreekfarm #puremichigan #followthesun #sunset #sunsalutation #iamamodernfarmer #chickensofinstagram #pasture #pastureraised #pasturebird #puremittigan #barn #backyardpoultry #country #cornishcross #cornerbrew
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Instagram post 17848351438129485 I received quite a few negative comments on my last post. Accused of being a cannibal, insane, a face of betrayal.. All because I choose to be on the right side of the food system. Because I choose to raise my own food. I CAN'T support the meat industry from feed lots, nor will I let hurtful words from strangers put me down. THANK YOU to all who supported me and sent pleasant and nice comments my way! My birds are happy and healthy and I won't change a thing - this is MY life 💗☀️🐓 #fowlcreekfarm #puremichigan #chickensofinstagram #backyardpoultry #backyardchickens #backyardpoultrymag #iamamodernfarmer #modfarm #modernfarmer #pastureraised #pasturedpoultry #pasture #farmtotable #farming #womenfarmers #benice #bekind #farmlife #cornishcross #growyourown
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Instagram post 17850767278610644 I'd like to pause tonight to appreciate these two and the bond they share. Rescued a year apart, Phoenix and Rose were slow to come to love each other. Tonight, I witnessed something that left me speechless and was a true testament to how over the past two years their relationship has quietly strengthened until they are now some variation of sister/best friend/partner.
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Phoenix today inexplicably has a minor prolapse, wherein some of the inner tissue of her cloaca (where birds poop and lay eggs through) is protruding outward. I'm mystified, since this is normally caused by egg laying and Phoenix has never laid. It's not currently an emergency, but it could become one and so she's headed to the vet first thing tomorrow. For tonight, I have her trapped in the shower so I can easily monitor her poops.
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The shower has a raised area and Phoenix is sleeping on it. Outside of the shower is the bathroom garbage and Rose, who normally sleeps on the bed or my desk, is tonight asleep on this. Phoenix and Rose, side-by-side, separated by a pane of glass, companions as close as they can get, Rose keeping Phoenix company.
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This week, tens of thousands of babies will be killed in the ritual Phoenix and Rose escaped. They will be packed tightly into harsh crates with ten other babies. They will suffer for hours to days on the streets without food or water, covered in feces from the crates above, pressed against sharp edges, in fear and agony. And they will do what we all would do in a time of desperation: They will seek comfort in those beside them. They will find what little solace they can resting their heads on others who fear, others who suffer. They will bond in a way I cannot understand in a situation no one should ever be in. Please, try to see them.
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Instagram post 17859292105437196 Today we processed 21 Murray’s Big Red Broilers from mcmurray_hatchery 🍗 all 21 birds made it to processing day (very impressed) but they only averaged about 3 lbs after 12 weeks of growth (not as impressive). To compare, our Cornish Cross were 5-6 lbs after 8 weeks. The freezer is getting very full now!

#birds #chickens #chickensofinstagram #murraysbigredbroiler #redranger #cornishcross #meatbirds #meaties #growyourownfood
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Instagram post 17862524818450071 Who else is joining me in the Chickens are in the freezer club? We butcher our second round of Cornish Cross next weekend, and that will fulfill what we consume for the year. We also raise heritage breeds for a sustainable meat source which helps if we consume more than what we put up. The Delaware and Java breeds have been good to us, proving both meat and a great egg supply.  Dual purpose heritage breeds for the win! .
#cornishcross #chickens #meatchickens #cleanfood #healthyeating #raiseyourown
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Instagram post 17926814884311232 You think we can fit the meat birds on the side of the house? Yup, sure can!

#smallfarm #eatlocal #polyfacefarm #chickensofinstagram #cornishcross #realfood #ancestraleats #dinosaur #chicken #pasturedpoultry #nichefarming
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Instagram post 17848293283100399 This will be week 9 starting tomorrow. 🐓Today I harvested this 7.5lb pasture bird for a good friend of ours. He will feed a family of 6 one of the best chicken dinners they'll ever have. Thank you bird 💗 #fowlcreekfarm #puremichigan #pasturebird #pastureraised #backyardpoultry #backyardpoultrymag #iamamodernfarmer #modfarm #modernfarmer #knowyourfarmer #growyourown #farmtotable #farmlife #meatbirds #cornish #cornishcross #priceless #chickensofinstagram #sunset #sunsalutation
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Instagram post 18080414461119380 The dynamic duo. . .
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. . [#ImageDescription:  A black and white pot-bellied pig is sleeping in a sunspot. A large white rooster stands alert next to the pig. ]
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#pigsofinstagram #rescuepig #minipig #potbelliedpig #potbellypig #farmrescue #donteatyourfriends #friendsnotfood #rescuerooster #sanctuarylife #cornishcross #cornishrooster #savedfromslaughter #regularshow #muscleman #interspeciesfriendship
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Instagram post 18054641230177665 21 birds butchered and pieced. 7 more to do tomorrow, but they will be left whole. THEN 11 older birds to make into apple sausage and 5 older ducks into....I don't know what, yet. And then there's Turkey Face for Thanksgiving and another round of ducks. But first, a big ol pot of bone broth out of chicken feet and a roaster full of chicken carcasses. Did I mention liver pate from this round of chickens? .
#thankful #cornishcross #raiseyourown #cleaneating #healthyeating #healthyoptions #goodfood #chicken #backyardpoultry #chickensofinstagram #instagramhomesteaders  #farmlife
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Instagram post 17890859116341758 Look at Foghorn go!! He’s been doing great! #roostersarelove #endroosterstigma #vegansanctuary #veganfortheanimals #rooster #cornishcross #endroosterdiscrimination #vegan
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Instagram post 18064365100081923 Henry absolutely loves our chicks. I’m so proud to see how much he has learned about taking care of the animals and how gentle he is with them. I think he could do the farm chores better than I could!
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Instagram post 18086487451011147 #homesteadingreality in the raw. Our life is not easy and you have to be able to think on your feet. And fast. The junior jerk face turkeys got into the Cornish area and this guy was the target. I had two options:
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1. Try to help it heal, or
2. Butcher it
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Butchering is scheduled for this weekend. If I helped it to heal and it ended up passing I'd have lost the meat. I chose to not lose the meat and culled it.
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This is real life. The life I live. Some of you may respect my decision, and some will frown on it. But if you're homesteading this is what you're often faced with. Can you live this way? Can you put food on the table without your partner? Justin made sure I was capable of doing this without him, and for that I'm thankful.
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#cornishcross #backyardpoultry #thisislife #homesteadersofinstagram #homesteadinglife #farmgirlstrong #chicken #minifarm
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Instagram post 18072903001070501 I have some pretty exciting news! Maple and Cypress had 10 perfect #greatpyrenees #puppies and seriously, I’ve seen some cute puppies, but these are the cutest!
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You may notice that one of these things is not like the others. There’s  a really sweet story that explains why there’s a #cornishcross  #chick in with Maple and her puppies, but that will have to wait for another day.😉
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Prepare for some serious puppy spam over the next few weeks.😊
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