Cornish Xs are causing me trouble - what other breed can I raise?


9 Years
Mar 22, 2010
I have raised Cornish Cross hybrids (the white ones that expand like balloons) for two years now, and I would like to try something else, here's why:

Although the first year we only had one loss at 9 weeks, this year has been miserable. Out of 45 birds, we have lost eight: four two heat and four (soon to be five - One is going down that same track and there is nothing I can do about it) to leg problems. And we are only at three weeks! Two of those four were so large that their legs couldn't lift themselves up; consequently, they could get around to the feed and water. When these two died I felt horrible. These birds have been synthetically bred to expand so fast that some of the don't live past 3 weeks because they can't support their own weight!! I don't have a problem using owr knowledge to develop a fast growing bird, but when it starts to get cruel, I start to disagree.

Anyways, I want to try something else. I still would like something that grows fairly fast, just not to the point where it works against them. I don't mind keeping them a couple extra weeks if that's what it takes. I am also interested in something that would range and eat grass and bugs. I same the Freedom Rangers on JM Hatchery's website. They sounded promising. Couple Qs though:

Were the Cornish Xs so tender because they didn't move? Will a bird that ranges around the yard be tough because it is using its muscles?

IT is cheaper/same/ more expensive to raise something like a Freedom ranger? Do they eat more feed since you keep them longer, or do they eat grass in place of some of their feed?

Does any one here raise Freedom rangers? What are your comments on them?

Any other breed beside the Freedom ranger that would meet my needs?

I am just trying to learn more about some other types of meat breeds. I would love any info that you have!!

Thanks so much.
Im only nearly at the end of my forst meaty run.
But from what ive read,i think tenderness comes down to age mostly,maybe activity has something to do with tenderness aswell.
I stopped feeding mine 24hrs at about 3wks,since then they get food twice a day,scraps,hi protien feed and free ranging,and Ive had no fatalities as of yet.
Although im raising mine to an age where I can seperate the roo's from the hens and do a little breeding with them to see if I can get a longer living bird that has the same dressed weight.
Hope that helps,but im by no means as up to date on meaties as most here are.
Are you rasin' your Cornish X's from a stock cross, or from someone else you purchased them from? If you've bought them, you're gettin' the fastest growin' genes, & not the best overall characters you want...try gettin' a Cornish Roo & a White Barred Rock & growin' your own Cornish x...that will aid you in your genetic quest to find what your looking you can pick & choose what traits suit you best...
I just helped a friend butcher 65 CX meat birds this last Saturday. While I see why people might want to raise them (and I always have), they aren't for me, either. He lost 15 over the course of raising them.

I prefer heritage breeds. Last year I raised Dark Cornish for meat. This year I am going for a cross between Delaware and Dark Cornish (40 of which are hatching in the incubator right now).

No, at 12 weeks, the Freedom Ranger isn't likely to be much more textured than an X bird. And the walking around doesn't really make a bird touch. That has more to do with genetics and age. My DC slaughtered at 20 weeks weren't the least bit tough and they were pastured for the last 18 weeks of their lives and were wonderful foragers.
The problem is not the breed, but the lack of knowledge of the breed's needs to thrive. I have raised the Cornish X for 3 years now ... the only losses that I have had was just a couple that were DOA. Educate yourself and implement that knowedge and you will have very happy campers. As the old Scottish saying goes... "The eye of the master fattens the cattle" !!!
Ok, Sounds like foraged meat birds are still tender. Good.

I purchased mine as day old chicks from Abentroth's hatchery in Wisconsin.

About Dark Cornish: I am new to the whole heritage bird thing and I don't know anything about them. I take it that they are a certain strain of the regular Cornish?

One question about the Cornish Xs: There is actually a breed called cornish, and what hatcheries call "Our fast growing broiler" is not really a breed, it is a mix of breeds, mostly containing Cornish. That is what we call Cornish X, which stands for Cornish Cross. Am I correct on that?

Gogoalie asked if I was raising them form a stock cross or if I purchased them. As I told you, I purchased them, but I am wondering what you mean by a stock cross.

Thanks for your help and info. I am trying to learn more about meat birds!
Dark Cornish is one of the standard Cornish breeds. There are also White Lace Red, Buff, and White Cornish.

Commercial Cornish X is a cross between White Cornish and White Plymouth Rocks, but from very special lines of these breeds. Hatcheries use different names to sell them different ways, but they are basically the same animal.

I think with stock, he is talking about just getting a decent heritage line of Cornish and one of White Rock and cross those yourself. But that won't be the same bird as the commercial beasties you get through a hatchery.

Which is a good thing, in my view.
Ok, so there are Dark, white, buff, ect of Cornish just like there are Buff, silver laced, golden laced, ect of other breeds like Polish and wyandottes.

So Cornish X apply only to Cornish crossed with Plymouth rocks, Just commercially they breed them very specifically.

It sounds like breeding your own is the best option, but I don't have the time or facilities to do that. In that case, from what hatchery would you recommend getting some heritage meat birds? Which leads me to ask what breed, of the many heritage breeds out there, is the best?
Actually the term CX is no longer very accurate if used to describe today's commercial strains . The actual cross between pure White Cornish and pure White Plymouth Rock was done long ago and is in the past ancestery of the strains ; the modern meatie is a blend of different standardized strains of meat birds with each strain used on either the maternal or paternal side exclusivesly to get the fastest growing , most marketable carcass or highest yeilding bird possible . If you like the CX except for the exteem rapid growth problems you might want to try a hatchery that offers a slightly slower strain .
If you want to pasture them and get closer to the meatiness of a cornishX a "heritage" breed used in the European "Label Rouge" program other wise called "Poulet Rouge" might be a good place to start. The Label Rouge chicken is advertised at the best tasting by independent taste testing. One official breed of poulet rouge is called Redbro. JM Hatchery's freedom rangers includes different breeds but Redbro as one of them. Nature's Harmony Farm in Georgia keeps and breeds their own replacements. They have a great blog and podcast of their operation and talk a lot about their pastured poultry adventures. Here are some other links.

The Best Chicken in the World Debuts at T. Cook's
Rouge: Pasture-based Poultry Production in France
Hatchery colored rangers
Harmony taste test

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