* Well, we're still not 1OO% sure if mine IS a c-x or not, but since I suspect it, I try my best to keep her from getting too worked-up, and I try to keep her cool (in FL, no easy task!) and I give her Co-Q-1O every couple weeks. . . .I make sure she doesn't get dehydrated & hold her to check her out pretty good at least once a day.
I had three that were seven months old until this week. Two we gave away because I could not bear to eat them but they would not have made it through the summer, and the other one we had to put down a couple of days ago. I think the key is to give them as much space as possible, and try to avoid stressing them at all. The one we had to put down was being harassed by the other chickens and got stuck under an old wood stove, and they pecked away a large area of tissue on her back.
Despite their size they get picked on a lot when they get large because they are too slow and heavy to defend themselves. I got mine in September, and I don't think many large Cornish will survive hot weather. The rooster was around 20lbs and had a hard time getting around and would wheeze if he moved too much. They are sweet chickens but eat so much more than other breeds, and it's not much fun seeing them suffer when they get huge. I wanted the two we gave away to serve a purpose rather than dying from a heart attack.
When I was young my family occasionally ordered this breed. I didn't understand much about them then, but now I grasp that the way they're produced really stacks the decks against them for long term health.
Having said that, and please bear in mind I haven't done this, but I have a few thoughts ... maybe you could check these out with a vet to see if I'm thinking along the right lines ...
(1) Get a good b-vitamin supplement / notably biotin for this bird. I understand that these rapid growth birds can benefit from this greatly, as it helps cut down on the possibility of them getting bad legs.
EDIT: Also - consider adding a good general vitamin / mineral supplement - since this rapidly growing breed will need everything it can to keep it's body healthy.
(2) Rather than limit the chicken to tiny bits of food very infrequently - which would seem hard for a chicken to cope with - consider that if the bird wants to eat constantly maybe you need to supply it with a constant supply of lower protein food. For example, maybe foraging through the lawn every day would be a way to keep the chicken happily eating,without providing the high-growth concentrated food all day long. (Of course a balanced ration should also be given in addition to foraging)
(3) One of my chicken books tells the story of a lovely sweet hen raised as a pet which ultimately expired from heart failure. I think you might want to find out WHAT might decrease the chances of the heart failing. I mean, even people who are genetically disposed to heart problems can take steps with food and exercise to limit the possiblity of failure - so why not the same with a chicken?
They can be incredibly sweet animals. I'm sure one of the ones I be-friended as a child was a cross like your friends. Very loyal and gentle - came running when I'd call.
Hope this might help you think about ideas for your friend!
I say that the person shouldn't even try. They are a "breed" (if you can say that) that was created for the broiler industry. I hope (don't hate me this is my opinion) that something happens to the gene pool or something (I know nothing about genetics) and they all die and we have to go back to heritage breeds. With heritage breeds you can: 1) breed them 2) you'd be saving an endangered breed 3) instead of having to buy from a hatchery every year you could just breed your's and make more babies for free 4) they live longer. I'm sorry if that sounds mean but the cornish X is an industrialized chicken. And you are killing a baby when you slaughter them.
Granted, I would like to see the commercial producers move away from the current practice of creating these ultra fast growing, short lived hybrids too ... but this kind hearted person who wants to adopt the bird doesn't have anything to do with that industry I am sure and is merely trying to give the chicken a happy existence for its short life time. Nothing wrong with what the person wants to do. It isn't the chicken's fault it was created. Maybe the experience of raising this chick will help her friend want to add heritage breeds later. I am happy the person wanted to ask questions. But yes, please be aware that the hen might max out at a year, or less ... but I have read about one living to 18 months on the feathersite. Just go into it with eyes open - enjoy the hen while you have the chance to have her as a pet. Pet mice don't live very long either, but people still get them.
I've advised her of the problems, but she already has the chick, and her son is "in love with it". I told her I have chicks comming this week and that I would swap with him his cornish for a pullet of his choice-- nope, wants the pretty red chicken (it was died-- oops, I mean dyed). I even told her that it wouldn't stay red, it'd be all white and really big if it lived... so I told her that I would find what info I could.
Well I think it is wonderful she wants to keep this bird as a pet. I have 5 Cornish Xs as pets, all with their own different personalities.
Farm Sanctuary has some that are still alive from the rescues after Hurricane Katrina so they can live longer lives (for that breed). Just have to make sure to give it a low protein food with higher calcium (layer crumbles/pellets are great).
If she ever needs any info I would be more than happy to help her out. Just PM me if you have any specific questions and I'll help as best I can.
If her son is in love with this chick that is great!! We have 5 cornish X that accidentally ended up as pets. The turned out to be my two younger sons favorite chickens. They are now 9 months old and going strong!! We limit their food. feed them twice a day only what they can eat in 20 minutes or so. And of course they get fresh veggies etc as treats!! I know I post this every time someone asks about cornishX but it really does show their gentle, loving personalities!!