Acquired: Farmyard / Feedstore adoption
Posted Mar 21, 2015
Out of all the animals I have ever raised, this breed gave me the most problems health-wise that I couldn’t fix with supplements, diet, or care, because it was all down to genetics. Cornish Rocks have been bred for industrial production, which means they balloon with weight in a short time span so large companies can keep a steady supply of chickens ready for butchering to meet demand. Though I understand the reasoning behind it, this breeding move is absolutely devastating for these chickens because even the hens I sought to keep as layers ended up with stressed legs and failing hearts.
Cornish Rocks reach the ideal butchering weight around 8 wks old. I had such a large flock that, once they boomed to that weight, I couldn’t begin culling them out as quick as needed. We were a small operation raising meat for a family of four, and so many chickens went past the ideal weight and grew even larger while we could only butcher and store so many at a time. We figured that would be fine, we’d just wait and butcher as we made room in the freezers. Then they started dropping dead from heart attacks. I was used to raising Buff Orpingtons, which don’t have the excessive weight gain, so I was highly unprepared when my entire flock of Cornish Rocks went from chick to weighty adult and then into Godzilla chickens that died in droves.
They were also pretty voracious foragers. They cleaned out the bug population on our place and we fed them chicken scratch and a variety of kitchen scraps, vegetable matter, and leftovers, but they were perpetually hungry. In conjunction with our ducks and goose, they decimated the grass system in our yards that has yet to fully recover. The Orpington’s we had did fine on the food we provided, but the Cornish Rocks needed a larger volume, and when we failed to realize this they started turning on each other and pecking some of the weakest of the flock to death.
If you have a bigger operation with the necessary equipment and manpower to continuously butcher this breed at the right time for business purposes then this breed might be right for you. Otherwise look to other chicken breeds that are allowed to mature at a more natural pace. You’ll have healthier and happier chickens for sure.