Cornish cross (Cornish X) is the darling of the commercial chickens meat industry. If you have bought chicken meat at the grocery store, high chances are that the meat came from the cornish cross. The cornish cross, also referred to as the cornish rock is not a chicken breed, but a hybrid that was bred for commercial meat production.
Fast-growing and broad-breasted the cornish cross is ideal for both commercial meat production and pastured broiler production, with pastured farms like Joel Salatin’s raising the cornish cross in chicken tractors that are moved across pastures. Commercial production of the cornish cross is done in environmentally controlled poultry houses, where everything is provided for them.
Since it is a commercial brand rather than a breed, the breeds used to come up with the cornish cross are a tightly kept secret.
The cornish cross broiler is sometimes confused with the cornish breed. The two are not the same.
History of the Cornish Cross Chickens
It was in the 1930s where breeders and researchers wanted to come up with hybrids that were meant for meat production. The idea was to come up with a hybrid that would gain weight as quickly as possible.
The researchers developed the meat birds from different lines of birds with the grandparents coming from four strains. The third generation is what produces the broilers, cornish cross being one of the most popular ever produced. The complex crossing protects the commercial interests of the developer, making it hard for anyone else to produce the same bird. While cornish hens cross will lay eggs at some point, hatching them will not produce a bird with the same qualities as the parent.
Modern hybrid broilers become common in the market in the 1960s. Cornish Cross are not Genetical modified (GMO), but just hybrids crossed from different birds with desired traits.
Variants of the Cornish Cross Broiler Chickens
The cornish cross only comes in one variety, the white-colored cornish cross.
Characteristics of the Cornish Cross Broiler Chickens
Heavy and muscular, the cornish cross has large legs and deep and wide breasts.
The cornish cross has sparse feathers, making it easy to pluck. They have a wide leg stance, giving them the ability to support their heavy bodies. They have thick yellow feet and legs.
They grow fast. At 5 weeks the Cornish Cross will weight 3 times the weight of the Buff Orpington. It is ready for processing at between 8 to 10 weeks, with males weight 6 pounds and females weighing 5 pounds at 6 weeks. Ideally, the males gain one pound in weight every week.
Due to their weight, they move slowly and will not do well in a free-range environment. The cornish cross cannot fly, and walk slowly, making them an easy meal for any predator. They can only be raised in enclosed environments or protected pastures (in a chicken tractor).
They are not good foragers. In a pasture setup, their feed is spread on the ground, encouraging them to forage on the grass as they eat the feed.
The female cornish cross broilers are known as cornish game hens and are process at 4 to 5 weeks, with a weight of 2 to 2.5 pounds. Their meat is tender, making them ideal for roasting.
If processed at 9 weeks, the female will be at 10 pounds in weight and females 8 pounds.
Cornish Cross Chicken Breed Profile
- Egg Shell Color: Off white
- Egg size: Medium.
- Egg Productivity: No Benchmark since it is meant for meat
- Skin Color: Yellow
- Cornish Cross Chicken Breed Standard Weight.
- Cock: 10 lbs
- Hen: 8 lbs
- Purpose: Meat.
- Temperament: Calm and can be kept in confinement.
- Size: Large.
- Broodiness: Rarely
- Comb: Single red comb
- Climatic Tolerance: suitable for all climates.
- Varieties: White
- Color Description: White.
- Conservation Status:
- Country of Origin: United States of America