Oregon, United States
Posted Feb 27, 2014
Before I get into a detailed review of this breed, I’d like to warn anyone considering the Cornish Cross that unless you intend to kill and eat these birds, please don’t adopt them. Our family mistakenly came to adopt a handful of these birds as chicks, and it was really sad and painful to see them grow up so fast, but more on that shortly.
The Cornish Cross is an exceptional breed of chicken, well and truly designed for meat production. As meat birds, they are some of the best. Hens and cocks alike produce ample quantities of meat, and they have one of the best feed-to-weight conversions of any bird in the business. All that means that the Cornish Cross is an excellent, economic choice for a production meat bird, but it comes at a harsh cost.
These birds reach slaughter weight in approximately 55 – 70 days. That’s two months, give or take a handful of days. That’s a fast growing bird! And that growth comes at a cost. Not only do these birds get so heavy that their bones can’t support the weight of their own bodies, but they also grow so big, so fast, that their bones are brittle and tend to break easily. Indeed, most Cornish Cross birds grow to be so large, so fast, that they aren’t even able to reproduce naturally.
If you don’t kill these birds when they reach slaughter weight, you will see them continue to gain weight until the bones in their legs break. Crippled, these birds will continue to struggle and fight to live on, but it becomes a matter of ethics that they have to be put down. I find all of this extremely sad, because all the birds I’ve ever known of this breed have been extremely gentle, sweet-natured birds. The Cornish Cross rooster was the sweetest rooster we’d ever owned, but he got so big that his legs broke and he had to be put down.