Cornish Cross

General Information

Breed Purpose
Meat Bird
Climate Tolerance
All Climates
Egg Productivity
Egg Size
Egg Color
Breed Temperament
Calm, Bears confinement well
Breed Colors/Varieties
Breed Size
Large Fowl

Cornish Cross (Cornish X) chickens are the standard meat chicken for the American market. Sometimes called broilers or Cornish/Rocks.

Although it is NOT a breed of chicken, it is a cross or hybrid of some very secret breed lines for the sole purpose of gaining weight as rapidly as possible.

The first attempts at "Hybrid" meat birds was in the 1930's and was the dominant commercial bird by the 1960's.

Modern broilers are typically a third generation offspring (an F2 hybrid). The broiler's four grandparents come from four different strains, two of which produce the male parent line and two of which provide the female parent line, which are in turn mated to provide the broilers. The double cross protects the developer's unique genetics as strains cannot be reproduced from the broiler offspring.

In 2003, approximately 42 billion broilers were produced, 80% of which were produced by four companies: Aviagen, Cobb-Vantress, Hubbard Farms, and Hybro making them arguably, the most popular chicken to raise.

white egg.jpg
Cornish X egg (white)

Cornish X chicks

Cornish X Juvenile

Cornish X hen

Cornish X rooster

For more information on Cornish X and their owners' experiences with them, see the Meat Birds ETC forum section for discussions.
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Latest reviews

When raised correctly, CX are far from the apathetic Frankenstein-clones their repute would have you think. I raised them with my layer flock in a free-range setting with limited food, and it paid off. At times I found it difficult to tell them apart from my leghorns without looking at their feet! They were about the size of a regular grocery-store bird when I butchered them at ten or so weeks of age. Overall, I am quite pleased with them and will purchase another batch in the future.

Image caption: two eight-week-old Cornish Cross in the foreground, with a Pearl guinea fowl and a White Leghorn pullet in the background.
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Pros: Grow fast, very friendly, fun to watch, more hardy than you would expect, and they taste good.
Cons: Leg problems and other growth related issues have been the main problem for me with this breed.
I got 53 of these guys this year, they are very awesome birds and are way more hardy than most people claim. I was expecting to get a weak bird that has a high death rate because of what I read. Out of 53 birds I only had around 5 die, all of them were from leg or other growing issues, 2 of them had to be culled earl because of this. Other than the leg stuff they are great birds. I kept a few of these guys to cross breed with my egyptian fayoumi, golden campines, and leghorns.
Pros: Good natured, fast growing, and delicious.
Cons: Be ready for the "throughput".
I just ate the first of my Cornish Cross broilers. At 8 weeks he dressed out to 6 pounds 8oz not counting the heart, liver, gizzards, etc.

I bought a dozen through a local guy who does an egg business and raises a bit of meat birds. One was lost due to carelessness (people who were watching them) week one, and one died for no apparent reason week 7. I'll be eating them as they grow over the next few weeks.

These birds were everything they advertise. Fast growing, voracious eaters, and tender juicy meat.

Mine were pretty lazy, not wandering far from their food, but they did stroll around and forage a little. Definitely good natured birds, calm and pretty friendly with each other and people, even though I try to not get too friendly with them knowing that I'll have to give them all the axe eventually.

In retrospect I'll probably put my next batch in tractors. These just didn't really care to explore much and their steady flow of food---poo through them gets to be a bit abundant in a permanent coop.... unlike my laying hens that travel a lot during the day to scatter their droppings, it really piles up around these broilers.

Did I mention how delicious these are? Easy plucking and made a big meaty dinner + plenty of leftoverrs. And all things considered not that much money into them buying chicks local and 15$ a bag for starter/grower feed. I don't think I'll look any farther for a meat bird for next year and having such good results I'll likely look to get many more.

Lastly, keep an eye on their water. They drink almost as fast as they eat and compared to other birds I have around they'll really surprise you how fast they can guzzle your waterer dry.


Can you post pics? Maybe they are pure buff cornish, not Cornish Cross. How old are they? I might be interested in buying eggs if they are Cornish.
HI Beautiful_chickens, I did post a couple of photos of them in the Cornish Cross Gallery - they are the buff/wheaten/red laced birds at the end of the slideshow. They are currently 24 weeks old. None of the three are laying yet.
Whatever they are, they look interesting! What rooster/s do you have in your flock? I'm thinking they might be cornish or some other sort of game bird. If you had a big New Hamp or Barred Rock or Sussex rooster, you might get good meat chicks from them. You never know till you try!
Poor things. Reminds me of the turkeys we would sometimes see on Thanksgiving. They were so fat that they were lopsided. All they could do was lay on their side and eat! XD
I also free range my cornish X's and can report same results as you. They are smart and good free rangers.
It was so hot here when they got to the size I wanted to butcher at so didn't. I like them larger than fryers but smaller than roasters and by the time it cooled off last fall they were all roasters. In the 8 to 10 lb range.
No leg probs and as a bonus they go broody and are as good at setting as the other chickens
How old were yours when you butchered?? Mine are 6 weeks old now and HUGE! They don't have any problems and I have managed to raise all 12 of the ones I bought fairly easily so far, but a few of them only walk a few steps before they plop themselves down to rest. I am concerned that they may develop leg problems soon. I was planning on butchering them between 8-10 weeks if I can wait that long. I feed them 1/2 of an ice cream bucket of meat bird food twice a day, so they don't have unlimited access to food, either... This is our first attempt at raising chickens of any sort. We also have 12 layers, and the difference in size is amazing!
I agree that they are extremely docile and friendly birds. I just raised my first "batch". Have also seen posts by people that free range them along with other birds and how that eases the weak leg problems. Even so, these are a hybrid cross - they themselves are not bred, engineered deliberately to gorge themselves and get big and fat FAST. I'm assuming your pet is very young yet. They consequently are not likely to get very old before being so fat makes it impossible for them to get around and/or have a heart attack.
I'm afraid you've set yourself up to get your heart broken with making a pet of this hybrid. There are other docile breeds that live much longer that would make a far better pet choice for you.
I raise Cornishs too and I love them. Well everything but the smell. I have to agree with you they are the dirtist birds I have ever came acrossed. But they are the sweetest, loving, well mannered and calmest birds. Its always a joy when we bring the chicks home and almost kills us when we have to kill them.
Hi farmerChef,
I think that you're right. I still have two of the three. They have the boxy Cornish build and one of the two has some decent lacing but not as nice as a Sliver Laced Wyandotte or Gold Laced Cochin. They do have a lot of personality though, and one of the two went broody and hatched out chicks. :)
Your comment isn't really fact based and has no credibility, you more than likely raised them improperly and that has led to your poor rating of the breed. It is not uncommon however to find such poor ratings on this breed when left to first time newby type chicken folks who are more adept at caring for pet's as opposed to a healthier livestock model.
We also run broilers from townline poultry. Just got a new batch on Tuesday. We don't feed them medicated feed either but do feed them Dumor 24% chick feed from TSC for first 4 weeks or so. We switch them to purina flock raiser mixed with local grown grains when they are done with the high protein chick feed.

We have gotten 2 kinds of broilers from them. one kind has orange legs and the others have white. The white legged ones came with black spots on them and we only got that kind once. We still have 2 hens from a batch we got almost a year ago.

Anyway we keep getting birds from Townline because they do a great job. Low mortality and they arrive nice and healthy.

We tried doing cornish hens from pullets at 5 weeks and it worked out so well we did it again. Eight weeks with roosters is a tad too long imo though. At 6 weeks they start eating like pigs and fill out big time by 7 weeks. Any longer than that and you are losing money because they are basically building skeletal structure at that point. Don't get much more meat but lots more bone.....

Taking cockerels at 6-7 weeks gets you a good conversion but i think we get the best conversion from the cornish hen pullets at 5 weeks. Haven't tried running cockerels for cornish hens yet.

We have our birds butchered for $1.25 each which is a cost that's hard to argue with. We give some to our family/friends and freeze the rest. Have a special brooder coop that is mostly used for raising broilers to about 5 weeks. Works out great.
Your review settles my unease quite a bit. Thank you. Some of the things people say about them... I wonder if it's just not the best care, breeding problems, or if they really are that way. Me, I love big, wide chickens. Love them. :3 So I was planning on keeping Cornish Rocks, raising most of them for meat, taking the necessary precautions (supplements, limiting feed, special care, ect...) and keep one hen. I love big chickens. But can they live as long as other chickens if they are taken care of properly? I'm willing to spend extra time to care for one.
gee, mine free ranged daily from first to last light for 3 mos. till butchered at 8-10lbs. I put out about 3/5 of a 5gal pail of mixed grains (screenings) which is prob 2/3 wheat, 1/3 peas and the rest a little bit of seed seeds once a day. This feeds about 42 birds incl 5 turkeys, 9 geese, 4 guineas 20 meat and egg chickens and a few others.
No probs w/legs, have 2 cornish x hens that are 4 years old now sorta as pets I guess. Tho mostly too tough to eat but they still lay so good enuf.
No leg probs ever, they tear across the yard after a bug as well as anything else.
New BABIES 10 days away in 'bator, wyandotte layers, then every 4 days after duckies and goosies next
You do know these birds are meat birds, right? The whole purpose of this breed is to produce fast and they will eat very much to gain weight. I agree with al6517.
OK love Cornish had a Great first time result in the 80's my first and last order the rooster was Huge did not fit in a turkey roaster at 12 weeks , Bad news second order different hatchery all chicks had broken legs and i can not let anything suffer they where 3 weeks old . Nothing but broken bones so my ? what hatchery did you all use .
They are bred to be slaughtered at around 8 weeks because of the phenomenal feed rate conversion thats been bred into them. this is also why they have heart failure and trouble walking. Because of the amount of meat they put on in such a short time thier frames just can't support it.They are not intended to be long lived or egg layers but like you said at least they are tasty! :)
They are franken-chickens, built for a purpose - which is to eat, grow too huge too fast to support the bulk and be butchered young - or have legs or pelvis break or heart attacks. Tastey yes. Pets, eggs layers, reproduce it's a bit like insisting a puppy can fly - umm nope, not gonna happen and won't be pretty if you insist on trying.
That's crazy that you gets eggs from yours! I had them when I was a kid intended for meat, but when dad went to slaughter them, we begged him not to. They lived for a few years, actually, but never EVER saw an egg. I know this because they couldn't get in the nest boxes, and there were never any on the ground.

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