Questions about Cornish X

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by beebiz, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. beebiz

    beebiz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been doing a lot of reading about the Cornish X, Cornish Cross, or whatever you wish to call them.... The guys that start out little babies and in 6 to 8 weeks are HUGE broilers!! Anyway, I have a few questions. And, please remember that I am not dumb, stupid, or ignorant.... just somewhat uneducated about these birds.

    I like how quick they grow and have considered raising a few for my wife and I to eat. But, it is my understanding that these birds have a lot of health issues... heart attacks, strokes, outgrowing their legs, and so on. Have there been any concerns/studies about how eating poultry with such high rates of health problems might cause/promote health problems in humans. My wife and I already have enough health issues without adding to them!!

    Are these birds purebred or are they (as their name suggests) a crossbreed? If they are a crossbreed, what does one cross to get them? For example, I know that when I cross my Rhode Island Red roos with my Barred Rock hens, I get the Black Sex Link. Can I do a cross between two breeds and get the Cornish X offspring??

    I know that the average life expectancy of a Cornish X is somewhare between 6 and 8 weeks; thanks to the axe! Can a person grow them to adulthood and breed them?? If so, will the offspring come true to the parents?? And since I know that these are eating, pooping, growing machines, is the cost of food to get the offspring worth the offspring that you will get??

    If kept to adulthood, what kind of weight do these birds max out at?? If they are ready to slaughter at 6 to 8 weeks of age, they must be enormous when "full grown!"

    Sorry if my questions sound dumb. But, I am trying to learn more about these amazing birds.

    Robert
     
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:AFAIK, there are no issues eating a Cornish X. It's just chicken. Qualitatively, a slower growing meat chicken forms more complex amino acids in the meat, which has been identified as possibly being 'healthier' for you... although this does not imply there is anything wrong with the Cornish X. I firmly believe that a slower growing meat bird tastes better. The Cornish X meat seems mushy and too wet for me.

    Quote:They select purebred strains of the White Cornish as the terminal sire, crossed with a White Rock. The parent strains are selected for growth rate, size and food conversion ratio (FCR); and deselected for egg laying, longevity or disease resistance.

    If you do your own backyard crosses (which I do), you can use any color of Cornish (I only have Dark Cornish) on any color of Plymout Rock. In England, you see backyard Cornish Crosses using Sussex, Orpingtons or Dorkings. It all works just as well assuming you have healthy parent stock for the breeding.

    HOWEVER, you will get nowhere near the results you get with the Jumbo Cornish until you have perfected your parent stock. Consider Murray McMurray has over 100 years developing meat chicken parentage for their crosses. The upside is your backyard Cornish Crosses will retain a lot of the vigor and health of the parent breeds, since they haven't been overselectef for growth rate.

    Quote:As with all hybrids, they will not breed true. Conventional wisdom is the hens will die before they reach point of lay, but I assume that is hyperbole. But, there is no point in re-crossing them, since you won't get predictable or consistent results.

    I was frustrated with raising Cornish X's because of the mortality rate. I'm not in the business to lose 25% of my birds and have people say that's just 'normal'. I have two solutions. The first is I'm doing my own crossing now. The second is that I've now raised Freedom Rangers, which are slower growing meat chickens and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again.
     
  3. boilerjoe_96

    boilerjoe_96 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Life expectancy is 6 - 8 weeks because they get 'processed' at that point. No point in taking them further they are big enough. I let 3 or 4 get to 12 weeks without an issue. they were all fine just a lot bigger. Ended up with around 8 pound birds if my memory is correct(Either way they got BIG).


    They taste fine btw.....
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    If you only keep a few, ( I keep only 4-6 for personl use), mortality isn't so bad because you can keep a very close eye on the health and well being of each chick and they get to know you. That said, I've only lost one due to heart attack day of butcher since I think I told him he was dinner and stoked out, while others with many many more at a time end up with higer mortalit. If you just have a few, and see them growing too fast, just feed them less food and they will slow down. I free range my suckers and they waddle around for the short 8 week life I let them live. I also only raise in spring and early summer when weather stays below 70 deg.... which is probally 320 days a year here.

    They have more flavor then store bird but not as much flavor as an old rubber band roo you use for soup base.
     
  5. beebiz

    beebiz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Let me make sure that I understand this correctly. If I were to use a Dark Cornish rooster over a Plymouth Barred Rock hen or a Buff Orpington hen, the offspring would be a "Cornish X," right? Just not the Cornish X that is the huge, extremely fast growing broiler that is advertised by the hatcheries, right??

    I understand that my own backyard cross will not compare to the Cornish X that are sold by places such as Murray McMurray. But, is it reasonable to expect that a Dark Cornish rooster and a Buff Orpington hen should produce an offspring that is faster growing and somewhat larger than either of their parents as well as having the health qualities found in the parents?

    Thanks so much for the info that you all have given me so far. And, thanks in advance for any future information.

    Robert
     
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    You are exactly right. You will gain all the benefits of heterosis as well as keeping most of the good traits from the parent breeds. The only real issue is color. Mine come out a mottled black, yellow and sometimes barred (from the same crosses). Not having white plumage does not bother me, nor my customers, and of course has no effect on flavor.
     
  7. beebiz

    beebiz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the information, greyfields! The information you have gieven me has really got me pumped!!!!! I can hardly wait until next spring to get a few Dark Cornish roosters and let them grow up. I'll marry a couple of them off to my Buff Orpington hens, and see what my own "Backyard Cornish Crosses" look like!!

    From what I've read and have seen in the pics of them, the Dark Cornish have massive breasts. I know that my Buff Orpingtons have huge legs and thighs. I also know that my Buffs grow pretty quick and are disease resistant. I don't know for sure, but figure the Dark Cornish to be the same. So, I can't wait to see what my Dark Cornish and Buff Orpington crosses will look like..... and taste like!!!

    And, if the color is the only issue..... then, there is no issue to me!! I love the color of my Buff Orpington hens. And if I don't get something that I think is pretty from the cross, I can always watch my Buffs!!!

    Thanks again for the information and for pumping me up about them!!

    Robert
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2007
  8. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Order at least 4 roosters from my experience. I had two awesome cornish picked out to keep for breeding and one had a nasty electric fence accident. I was then left with only one and I felt utterly stupid becuase I had just culled 4 of their siblings I didn't like as much.

    When choosing your cornish to breed, pick based upon the breast width. You can tell this by how far apart their legs stand. The more saddle legged, the better. Also the more "erect" they stand, the longer the breast you will get. Also, if you can find a local chapter of the APA, they may have a Fall/Winter show. You can meat Cornish breeders at those and possibly get yourself developed roosters this winter. You may even find some white ones. But, you'll never find white ones for sale commercially as the big hatcheries don't want people making their own chickens when they can corner the market. As for the female side of the cross, put your boy in with 2 or 3 hens. I'd suggest going with either your larger hens or ones you noticed grew quicker than others.

    I think the Cornish cross Orpington will give you a very nice result and I'm glad your pumped. Taking your breeding into your own hands is very empowering. Let nature take it's course (don't help weak birds, don't use medicated feeds) and your flock vigor will keep going up and up. You'll eventually have a strong disesase resistant flock to breed your meat birds from. People will be calling them the Jumbo Beebiz cross meat birds.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2007
  9. beebiz

    beebiz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, yes..... done been there and done that. Once, I kept 2 Rhode Island Red roosters out of 15 that I had. I killed the other 13 and I soon wished (thanks to a neighbor's dog that got into my coop) that I had kept another one or two.

    I've been doing some looking and I had already figured out that the White Cornish were not available from the big hatcheries. Like you say, they don't want you and I making our own "jumbo" cross!!

    But, I have found the Dark Cornish in a couple of places. One of them is Cackle Hatchery. It is located in MO and is the closest hatchery to me (as far as I know). I don't know what their prices will be like next year. But, this year's price for the Dark Cornish was only $18.75 for 25 cockerels. After shipping and handling was added, the price was still only $33.75; only $1.75 each.... delivered. For another $16.25 I could have gotten a total of 50 cockerels. That brings the cost per bird down to $1 each..... delivered! I don't think that's bad at all! And, that way I can make sure I have plenty to do my crosses and several to put in the freezer!!

    Out of my flock of 13 Buff Orpington hens, I've already got 6 picked out that would be excellent to cross with the Dark Cornish roo. But, I noticed that you said to put 1 roo on 2 or 3 hens. Does the 1:10 rooster to hen ratio not apply to the Cornish? I've read that the Cornish roos have a tough time mounting the hens because of the roo's massive size. Is this why you need fewer hens for 1 roo to cover? If so, that makes sense to me.

    BTW, I've not been able to locate a local chapeter of APA. So, I emailed APA and inquired about a local chapter as well as the possibility of any upcoming APA sanctioned shows that would be local to me. I just did that today and haven't heard back from them yet.

    Anyway, thanks again for all the information. It's going to be hard to wait, but if I must I will find the patients to get my day-old roos next year and wait for them to mature and do their "duty!" But, it will be hard!!

    Robert
     
  10. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:I only suggested that so you'd still get eggs, rather than putting them all in the incubator. With 3 hens it would only take a week to get a nice clutch of 20+ for your first trial run. But, you could certainly use more hens if eggs don't matter.

    I have breeding pens which are about 10' long by 4' wide with a 3' x 3' 'house' at one end. The lid comes off and I can reach in and get the eggs and it keeps them out of the rain. You will want to isolate the hens 5-7 days with the chosen rooster so any other roosters' genes will have been elimianted. So eat the eggs for the first week, then start collecting once you're sure the correct rooster is doing the chore.
     

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