Cornish Broiler

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
2,848
4,255
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North-Central IL
I know I am late to the discussion, but there's a farm near me that has broiler breeders - thousands of Cornish Crosses, both hens and roosters (one of the industrial strains, not sure which), and they have no trouble getting these birds to reproduce. They lay very large off white to cream colored eggs. They keep them for a year, then "recycle" them. So, it can be done. These birds have their feed tightly regulated, which as I understand it, is required to get them to adulthood. From my research, they are free fed for the first 5 days, then get food with held for 12 hours a day, to slow growth.
Not sure what mortality is after a year though. They all become soup meat. But they are early and fairly prolific layers, laying from 20-26 weeks, and each house of 10,000 chickens (no idea hen/rooster ratio) produces 6-8,000 eggs a day, which is a daily or every other day layer. This farm is specifically a farm for hatching eggs to make little broiler babies.
Yeah, but the broiler breeders aren't as heavy as the actual broilers they produce, so you can get them to lay for a season pretty well. Whereas the final product, the chicks, are really hard to get and keep laying because they get so large.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,309
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Southeast Louisiana
Yeah, but the broiler breeders aren't as heavy as the actual broilers they produce, so you can get them to lay for a season pretty well. Whereas the final product, the chicks, are really hard to get and keep laying because they get so large.
Why do you say that, any links or references? I thought it was just controlled feeding.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
2,848
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North-Central IL
Why do you say that, any links or references? I thought it was just controlled feeding.
That's what I've always read on here and elsewhere: that the breeding birds are not the same thing as the chicks they produce. I'm not saying they aren't super heavy birds, but just from what we know about how they produce the Cornish X chicks, with the four-way mating, the parent stock isn't the same bird as the actual broiler chicks. Otherwise we'd be able to breed the broilers together to get more, and we all know that doesn't work out that way.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,309
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Southeast Louisiana
That's what I've always read on here and elsewhere: that the breeding birds are not the same thing as the chicks they produce. ................... Otherwise we'd be able to breed the broilers together to get more, and we all know that doesn't work out that way.
After a while I vaguely remembered someone, maybe Nicolandia, talking about dwarfism in broilers. It's rough getting old, sometimes it takes a while for my memory to kick in and it's not always as reliable as I think I remember it being.

The basic idea is that the mother of the broiler is dwarf, which reduces her size so she can be fed regularly and avoids a lot of the issues of them being so big health wise in addition to reduced feed costs. This dwarfism is a recessive sex-linked gene. The hen gives it to her sons but since it is recessive the boys grow to normal (huge) size. She does not give it to her daughters so they grow to normal (huge) size. It's basically the reverse of sex linked breeding, set up so you don't see the results in the offspring.

If you use a male Cornish X that has this trait, about half of his offspring will carry the dwarfism trait. I don't know how widespread the usage of dwarfism is in the broiler industry, but it's another good reason to only use female Cornish X in a breeding program.

I'll include a couple of links so you know I'm not just making this up.

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/world-s-poultry-science-journal/article/sexlinked-dwarf-gene-in-the-broiler-chicken-industry/1850F90D19ED787A98944B67A638C43A

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwarfism_in_chickens
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
2,848
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North-Central IL
I was simply making the point that the poster I quoted implied that this corporate grower is growing Cornish X and getting them to lay, when it is much more likely that they're simply *breeding for* Cornish X. Which is why they're able to get them laying well.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,309
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Southeast Louisiana
I agree they pretty much have to be breeding for the Cornish X, either a Grandparent or Parent line. That's the ones that the Corporate growers want to lay eggs, as many as possible. But I think they do that with controlled feeding, not because of genetics, except in the case of the dwarf mother line when they use that. That's why I keep bringing dwarfism up. It is something important for cost effectiveness.

I can't get my first link, the Cambridge one, to let me cut and paste an excerpt so I'll paraphrase. In the bottom of the first paragraph of the next to last section that shows, it says you can sell the brothers of the Parent line hens as broilers.

I'm not going to think too hard on the sex-link breeding on the broiler mother's grandparents side, (actually i will but not on here). But if the males from that line at that stage can be sold as broilers it implies to me that they can grow pretty big if fed to grow big. Probably not quite as well as the terminal broiler bird but they would still be pretty impressive.

The Wiki article will allow cuttting and pasting so I'll take an excerpt.

Advantages of broiler breeder hens
Under current practice, normal parent poultry breeding stock potentially face welfare problems. Intensive selection for production traits, especially growth rate, is associated with increased nutritious requirement and thus feed consumption, but also reproductive dysfunctions and decreased sexual activity in broiler breeders. A first resulting serious welfare problem is the subsequent severe feed restriction which is applied during rearing, in order to prevent health problems and to reach better egg production. This severe feed restriction has negative effects on bird welfare as it causes chronic stress resulting from hunger.[27] The use of normal fast growing broiler breeder hens require dedicated programmes of feed restriction, both to maximise egg and chick production and secondly to avoid metabolic disorders and mortality in broiler breeders. The negative correlation between muscle growth and reproduction effectiveness is known as the "broiler breeder paradox".[28][29] Using dwarf broiler breeder hens is a good alternative, because dwarf hens combine relatively good reproductive fitness with ad libitum feeding.

As I said, I don't have first hand knowledge, just what I read and imply from that reading. If it is this hard for the professionals think how loaded with minefields it is for us. No wonder most of us fail when we try.
 

Noah Way Farm

Chirping
Apr 29, 2019
113
150
91
South Carolina
Really interesting! All I can tell you about these birds is the hens and roosters all look the same. There are no dwarfs in the bump. The farm owner doesn't know what he has - apparently he genuinely has no interest. He did say they used to lay brown eggs and now they lay white eggs (though they seem more cream/tan colored than white). The birds get delivered in a bunch and removed in a bunch. He has four houses which, if I have it right, have in the ballpark of 10,000 birds each. They have already begun laying when they arrive. The eggs are collected and hatched off-site.
So, I don't know if these are grandparent or parent strains, and neither does the farmer. I am fixing to find out though, as I have some in the incubator that are due to hatch in a few days. I will let you know if we have to eat them or can grow them out as breeders, or if we get any dwarfs.

I agree they pretty much have to be breeding for the Cornish X, either a Grandparent or Parent line. That's the ones that the Corporate growers want to lay eggs, as many as possible. But I think they do that with controlled feeding, not because of genetics, except in the case of the dwarf mother line when they use that. That's why I keep bringing dwarfism up. It is something important for cost effectiveness.

I can't get my first link, the Cambridge one, to let me cut and paste an excerpt so I'll paraphrase. In the bottom of the first paragraph of the next to last section that shows, it says you can sell the brothers of the Parent line hens as broilers.

I'm not going to think too hard on the sex-link breeding on the broiler mother's grandparents side, (actually i will but not on here). But if the males from that line at that stage can be sold as broilers it implies to me that they can grow pretty big if fed to grow big. Probably not quite as well as the terminal broiler bird but they would still be pretty impressive.

The Wiki article will allow cuttting and pasting so I'll take an excerpt.

Advantages of broiler breeder hens
Under current practice, normal parent poultry breeding stock potentially face welfare problems. Intensive selection for production traits, especially growth rate, is associated with increased nutritious requirement and thus feed consumption, but also reproductive dysfunctions and decreased sexual activity in broiler breeders. A first resulting serious welfare problem is the subsequent severe feed restriction which is applied during rearing, in order to prevent health problems and to reach better egg production. This severe feed restriction has negative effects on bird welfare as it causes chronic stress resulting from hunger.[27] The use of normal fast growing broiler breeder hens require dedicated programmes of feed restriction, both to maximise egg and chick production and secondly to avoid metabolic disorders and mortality in broiler breeders. The negative correlation between muscle growth and reproduction effectiveness is known as the "broiler breeder paradox".[28][29] Using dwarf broiler breeder hens is a good alternative, because dwarf hens combine relatively good reproductive fitness with ad libitum feeding.

As I said, I don't have first hand knowledge, just what I read and imply from that reading. If it is this hard for the professionals think how loaded with minefields it is for us. No wonder most of us fail when we try.
 

Molpet

Crossing the Road
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Sep 7, 2015
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New Lenox township. Illinois USA
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Really interesting! All I can tell you about these birds is the hens and roosters all look the same. There are no dwarfs in the bump. The farm owner doesn't know what he has - apparently he genuinely has no interest. He did say they used to lay brown eggs and now they lay white eggs (though they seem more cream/tan colored than white). The birds get delivered in a bunch and removed in a bunch. He has four houses which, if I have it right, have in the ballpark of 10,000 birds each. They have already begun laying when they arrive. The eggs are collected and hatched off-site.
So, I don't know if these are grandparent or parent strains, and neither does the farmer. I am fixing to find out though, as I have some in the incubator that are due to hatch in a few days. I will let you know if we have to eat them or can grow them out as breeders, or if we get any dwarfs.
The parents and grandparents are feed a restricted feed...if I remember right Cobb has it listed... I think they don't feed them one or two days a week along with low feed on the days they get fed
 

Birdinhand

Crowing
May 23, 2016
1,100
1,650
267
Pacific Northwest
I'd put money on it that the large hatchery is breeding for CX, not breeding CX to CX. I've raised only a few hundred so far and I've experimented with rationing and come to some hard conclusions. I think it's possible, but a lot more work than it's worth, to slow down an actual CX's growth. There have been lots of folks who have, over the years tried to find a more perfect, better balance between speed of growth and longevity and well being. It is not my experience that it it is worth trying to grow them out as pets or for eggs, they are a genetic wonder as a meat bird. there are many propriatary variations of the cross. the best one, IMHO, is the COBB 500, it stays pretty plucky, has a decent life and has a great grain to meat conversion rate, about 2.5 lbs of grain to a lb of meat. I use a sort of industrial grade mother heating pad to grow them out, no heat lamp, they are forced to sleep at night, so they take a natural break from eating. I grow them out in the fall, the days get shorter and nights longer, as they get older, which I find to be a great balance, I don't see leg problems and I get nice 7 to 9 lb birds at 9 weeks. I've concluded that they have something like 10X the metabolism of the typical heritage breed bird, that they produce so much of their own growth hormone that it's best to just give them the food they need and aim for a 9 week harvest. after 9 weeks they tend to get pretty burdened by their biology and I just don't see a way to give them an enjoyable life. there appetite is so intense that I think you could make an argument that restricting their diet too much actually leads to suffering. I try and find a balance, give them a good life with good health up to harvest time, at which point I kind of feel that they have reached their natural end due to their extreme genetics. I grow about 35-70 out a year, produce hundreds of lbs of organic meat, almost all the meat for my family of 4, it all gets vacuum sealed and frozen and I find the ability to show my kids a way to be somewhat self sufficient with growing our own meat in a human way, even in the suburbs and it feels kind of glorious, though the last few weeks can be trying.
 

Phunktacular

Songster
Oct 29, 2016
173
167
121
Fulton, NY
I'd put money on it that the large hatchery is breeding for CX, not breeding CX to CX. I've raised only a few hundred so far and I've experimented with rationing and come to some hard conclusions. I think it's possible, but a lot more work than it's worth, to slow down an actual CX's growth. There have been lots of folks who have, over the years tried to find a more perfect, better balance between speed of growth and longevity and well being. It is not my experience that it it is worth trying to grow them out as pets or for eggs, they are a genetic wonder as a meat bird. there are many propriatary variations of the cross. the best one, IMHO, is the COBB 500, it stays pretty plucky, has a decent life and has a great grain to meat conversion rate, about 2.5 lbs of grain to a lb of meat. I use a sort of industrial grade mother heating pad to grow them out, no heat lamp, they are forced to sleep at night, so they take a natural break from eating. I grow them out in the fall, the days get shorter and nights longer, as they get older, which I find to be a great balance, I don't see leg problems and I get nice 7 to 9 lb birds at 9 weeks. I've concluded that they have something like 10X the metabolism of the typical heritage breed bird, that they produce so much of their own growth hormone that it's best to just give them the food they need and aim for a 9 week harvest. after 9 weeks they tend to get pretty burdened by their biology and I just don't see a way to give them an enjoyable life. there appetite is so intense that I think you could make an argument that restricting their diet too much actually leads to suffering. I try and find a balance, give them a good life with good health up to harvest time, at which point I kind of feel that they have reached their natural end due to their extreme genetics. I grow about 35-70 out a year, produce hundreds of lbs of organic meat, almost all the meat for my family of 4, it all gets vacuum sealed and frozen and I find the ability to show my kids a way to be somewhat self sufficient with growing our own meat in a human way, even in the suburbs and it feels kind of glorious, though the last few weeks can be trying.
Well said. I do the same except, I raise more for my family and extras to sell to supplement the amount to raise my own. In the end, I don't pay anything for mine except for time. Which isn't much. About 15 minutes every morning and 1 grueling day to process.
 

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