Final Results - Jumbo Cornish Cross from McMurray Hatchery

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by MissPrissy, Jan 7, 2008.

  1. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Back in October I placed an order for 25 jumbo cornish cross from McMurray Hatchery. This was my first time with this particular breed as well as raising chickens specifically for meat. Keep in mind I have processed many roosters in my days raising chickens but they were the 'mean rooster in the hen house' or the 'packing peanuts' of a spring chick order of pullets.

    I chose to order these birds later in the year in hopes that the cooler fall temperatures would be less stressful. Although I ordered 25 McMurray sent 27.

    The chicks arrived on October 4th. They were extrememly active and loud. They took to the water and the food instantly. They ate and ate and ate to the point I had a hard time keeping the feeders full the first couple of weeks. I fed them all they could eat in the day time but took all of the food away from them at night. By four weeks they had outgrown my little brooder and were trying to fly out. They had a stench that was very different from other chicks I have raised. They had to go to the barn quickly. They made my kitchen stink.

    By the time these birds were 8 weeks old they had surpassed the size of my current flock of pullets and my barred rock cockeral who were 26+ weeks.

    They were up to 6 gallons of water a day and about 12lbs of broiler feed which quickly went to 25+ lbs of feed every single day. As the weather turned colder they were given a ration of cracked corn each evening to help ramp up their body temps. I had no problems of any kind whatsoever with these birds. I never increased the feed beyond 25lbs of feed and they did begin to slack off themselves so that the feed ration of 25lbs stretched over two days.

    Three weeks before we planned to process them I began replacing their feed with scratch grains and continued with a ration of cracked corn each evening. At two weeks before processing I replaced all their feed with cracked corn because I wanted them to build more internal fat. I was not disappointed. When we started processing them they all had a rich fist size globe of fat at the vent/rear cavity and the gizzard and liver were both laced with a nice pad of fat.

    As each bird was dressed I harvested the fat, the livers and the gizzards.

    The birds weighed between 10lbs and 13lbs each. The look like small turkeys. The breasts are plump and full. A family of 6 ( 2 adults and 4 children) can easily have a very nice meal with leftovers from one breast.

    The thighs are huge. The legs are big and meaty.

    Having cooked both the breast and the leg/thigh quarters I found the meat to be very tender. It has a great flavor. The broth cooks up rich and full bodied. There is very little meat waste as it pulls away from the bones cleanly without having to pick it in the way small grocery store chickens can be time consuming.

    Other than their stench and the need to clean out their coop at the least once per week these birds were extremely easy to raise. The cooler weather made it an ideal environment and I didn't have to worry about heat stress. They feathered out in plenty of time for the colder weather and have done very well in the barn without any heat source the same as my flock of hens have endured. Actually I think they may have faired even better because of their size and their natural inclination to huddle together. The only time we left a heat lamp on was when the temps dropped to the teens and we hung a heat lamp to keep the waterers from freezing.

    They were very easy to dress out. The feather was full but not like the feathering on my chickens we processed before. The plucking went very quick. I did not pluck them all. Some of them we skinned out. I cut the pieces apart and package them with breasts or leg quarters or wings for different use when I cook. The backs and wing tips are reserved for making stocks.

    The only way I can even begin to describe the size is that only one bird would fit in a 2.5 gallon Hefty zip lock bag. Hence why I left few whole birds for roasting. My freezer is not bottomless and space is now at a premium.

    The rich fat from the birds rendered well in my crockpot. I have about 4 cups that I have frozen in 1/4 cup portions to be used in savory pie crusts.

    So to sum it all up -

    I am more than pleased with these birds.

    I will order them again this coming fall and will most likely get twice as many birds.

    I will not try to raise them in any weather except the cooler fall temps.

    I will duplicate my feeding program.

    Raising meat birds comes with it more responsibility than just feeding some chickens that will later feed you and your family. It is my experience that you need to keep yourself a bit removed from them as they are not pets and most likely won't live as long as other purpose chickens (hens for laying, flock roosters, etc.). I also think there is a sense of respect to be held for the purpose the birds are intended for. It is not easy to take a life. I have tried my best to use everything I can from each bird without waste because the price to be paid was a life.

    If you are interested in the jumbo cornish cross I reccommend them without hesitation.

    Edited to add - the chickens were processed at 12-13 weeks of age.
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2008
  2. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    Sounds fantastic! I'm coming in on this late so forgive me if you've already mentioned these things... How old were they when you processed them? How large were they at 6 weeks?
  3. Farmer Kitty

    Farmer Kitty Flock Mistress

    Sep 18, 2007
    Thanks for the info. We are planning to get some turkey chicks and some cornish cross chicks in the spring, all for butchering. I'm glad everything went great for you!
  4. 4-H chicken mom

    4-H chicken mom Crowing

    Aug 3, 2007
    Oberlin, OH
    I can relate Miss Prissy to the stench of a meat chicken. They aren't anything like a fancy chicken and you had yours during the cooler months. Try having them in July through Aug. That's when my 4-H kids and my daughter have to get their chickens. By the third week, they are cleaning their pens twice a week to combat the smell. They sure are worth it though when you taste one. They are nothing like a store bought chicken. [​IMG]
  5. Wow, thanks for the report. So at what age did you start taking the food away all night? Did you have any of them die? Did it seem like flip or something else?

    Your sucess makes me think about doing them even later than I did, I went for a fall batch for the same reason, but might not have gone late enough. I could not go that late though, it was all frozen by then here.
  6. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    CovenantCreek - They were between 12 and 13 weeks old. Surprisingly they weren't very big at 6 weeks, easily under 4lbs. It wasn't until that time that they really began to put on weight and fill out.

    adoptedbyachicken - After the first week when I knew they were really off to a good start I took away the feed at night. None of them died. They lived a good life and were really healthy.

    4-H chickenMom - That is exactly why I refused to have them in the heat of summer. The stench is bad enough in cool weather. The stress relief of not having to battle the heat is another major reason why I chose later in the fall. They were drinking upwards of 6 gallons of water a day as it is. In that kind of heat I would not have been able to keep up with the demand for water as my barns do not have automatic waters.

    As far as how they taste I can't agree more. These are the best tasting chickens I have ever had.

    FarmerKitty - If you live where the late spring and summer is very hot I would advise you to think twice depending on the number of chickens you plant to grow out. I can't imagine in the heat the amount of water they would need. When you see how quickly they begin to flesh out you will then completely understand the amount of stress on their body. I know most people raise them int he spring and summer but after raising this flock I won't ever attemptt to raise them int he kind of heat we experiece. Mainly because I don't want to have any losses. Also the stench will be elevated and the pens they are in will have to be cleaned at least twice a week or more. These birds put out so much poop that fresh pine shavings put in on monday where a solid brick of poop by Friday. It is really gross the mess they can make.

    Don't let that last part discourage you. That is not what I am trying to say. Raise the birds but remember cooler temps make it so much easier on you and them in so many ways. I can't image the stench in the midst of hot weather compare to it in cooler weather.
  7. CovenantCreek

    CovenantCreek Chicks Rule!

    Oct 19, 2007
    Franklin, TN
    How much space did you have them in?
  8. Ang

    Ang Songster

    Jan 2, 2008
    West Central Illinois
    The large roaster freezer bags from McMurray's are perfect to freeze the Cornish Cross whole. I am lazy and also uneducated on how to cut up a chicken so I just freeze them whole. We butchered 50 of them this last year. Yummy stuff!
  9. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    That is really awesome to get a batch of those birds without having mortality issues. I hope you have as much success in the future.
  10. CountryFresh

    CountryFresh In the Brooder

    Dec 12, 2007
    Central Virginia
    Thanks for all the great info...
    We are getting jumbo cornish cross (from McMurray also) early spring...

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