Posted Jul 16, 2014
Over the last several years I have raised hundreds of Cornish Rock Cross meat birds. As the title says, I have a total love/hate relationship with them. It all boils down to this:
If you want birds that packs on the pounds in short time with a good feed:meat conversion, with big, meaty breasts and legs, these are your birds.
If you want the most flavorful chicken meat you can grow, they really are not. The taste is still very good, better than any commercial chicken, but more bland than other meat birds and dual-purpose birds I've raised (such as straight Cornish and Barred Rocks).
These birds do not take extremes well at all, and since I am in New England where the weather varies greatly through the seasons, this is no good trait. I've come to learn that I basically have a window of a few months to grow them, which isn't that big of a deal because they grow fast, but it means that for me who is trying to raise an annual stock for a family of 6, I have to do them all at once in one very large set.
Also, they do and will suffer from all those things you've ever heard about these birds - weak legs, a percentage of paralysis and loss, huge appetites. My biggest problem with them is that they are not "real" birds to me. All they do is eat and drink and poop. We've given them big runs for outdoor air and they simply would not use them. That's really bothered me about them.
Still, they grow meat like nothing else so I have come back to them a few times after experimenting with other meat-types, but ultimately last year and this I have decided to go with some of the heavy new Ranger breeds.