Meat-type Chickens-Questions (Poultry) : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Have a couple of questions on meat-type birds.

Cornish-X broiler - Taste? Tenderness? Costs?

Other meat type chickens - Breeds? Taste, ect...

How do the Cornish-X compare to other types? And is there really a difference in taste among types?

Last question, is it possible to feed a natural diet, without additives and still be cost effective? Does diet affect taste of bird? Oops, that was the last question. Thanks!

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, February 19, 2001


In our experience, the biggest difference in the meat birds (Cornish X) is that they grow way faster, have more breast meat, and are far easier to pluck, which for us weighs heavily in the advantage area.

As for taste-I don't think there is a difference, though older roosters can have tougher or stringier meat. But I have limited expereience.

I am sure you can feed a more natural diet-not sure if it would be cheaper or as quick as the commercial feeds. But then where we are, we can request chicken feeds that are not full of drugs etc.

One thing I would recommend is if you are planning to start pullets and meat birds at the same time-raisde the cornish crosses seperately- they are pigs! We tried to do it with them together, and it was not the best. Also it is better, in my opinion if the meat birds can be grown where they can get outside and also to aim for 8-9 weeks instead of 6 weks. Slowing them down a bit, helps avoid leg problems- though it might not eliminate it entirely. we also would recommend getting them so you can get the butchering over before it gets too hot and the flies are a real hassel. Here (sw MO) that means getting them so butchering happens in late May.

Hope that helps some-we never did figure up the cost-but the taste was far better than the store bought chicken.


anyone ever try the jumbo birds McMurry sells-for roasters? We are toying with the idea-but they are expensive.

-- Sarah (, February 19, 2001.

I think we figured about $4 a bird, including purchase of the chick and the feed. I'm not sure how cost effective that was, but they did make excellent meat. You get much more meat than raising "meat type" roosters of other breeds. As far as these chickens are concerned, though, their purpose in life is to eat and poop. They lay around and are very nasty if you don't move them about. The portable coop is really the only way to go with them, so that they are on fresh grass every day. (We bought all natural feed from a local producer, and it did cost a bit more than what I buy for my hens.)

-- mary, texas (, February 19, 2001.

We have raised hundreds of meat birds every summer for ten years, and these are my opinions:

Jumbo Cornish Cross are chickens from hell; yes, they grow fast. They grow so fast if you full feed them they love to have heart attacks because their circulatory systems cant keep up with their body weight, become crippled because their legs cant keep up with their body weight, will just as happily eat YOU as their feed (we have the scars to prove it), are unbelievably lazy and stupid.

We have tried lots of breeds; really wanted to raise a heritage breed,but they just never had the beautiful carcass people want,and we lost money on em; finally settled on the Jumbo Cornish Roasters. We grow em for 12 weeks, at which time they dress out at between 6 and 8 pounds. Take a little longer than CX, but any chicken will have more flavor the longer it grows. (same with beef). They are much more active, forage fairly well (we raise em in movable pens), and act like real chickens. Almost no leg or heart problems,and they are unbelievably delicious. We always age our birds for two to three days before freezing, so they are guaranteed tender.

We feed only certified organic feed, and make an excellent profit anyway. As far as diet, pasture is essential to a superior tasting meat.

Anyway, thats my experience. Am very proud of our chickens; we get fan mail from our customers all the time!

-- Earthmama48 (, February 19, 2001.

Our one experience with cornish X was not pleasant. We have a raised chicken coop with ramp from ground level. They had a hard time getting up that. One hen nestled down under the ramp and couldn't get out. By the time we found her there she was impacted and didn't live long - just never got back up. Filthy, stupid, lazy. I'd rather raise regular breeds for meat. They take care of themselves better.

-- Skip Walton (, February 19, 2001.

I raised some CX in a chicken tractor and they were yucky, dirty, and not very healthy. Couldn't walk well. They got the recommended high protein feed.

Then I tried again. Put seven day-old chicks under a broody banty and gave them free run of the fenced backyard. They were beautiful, clean, very healthy and very, very tasty. They became less active at around six weeks old, but were still MUCH more active than the first batch was at three weeks. Also, they were almost no trouble. The broody took very good care of them.

I gave them all purpose chicken feed from the start, and after the first week or so, started cooking chicken scratch in my crock pot with extra goat milk and gave that to the birds. They really loved it! I think they grew at least as quickly as the first batch. I remember after three weeks, I went back to the feed store, where they still had a number of chicks from that same batch. I couldn't believe they were the same age. My chicks looked at least a week older than those at the store! Since I do it on such a small scale, I am definitely sold on the broody approach.

-- Laura Jensen (, February 19, 2001.

We haven't raised the jumbo cornishX but have done a cornish hybrid roaster- slower growing and supposed to have more breast meat. They were free ranged and did really well. We lost two to leg problems and several to predators but the ones that survived were very tastey. They were clean and generally nice friendly birds too.

We also butchered several Plymouth Rock crosses and other barnyard cross roosters. They didn't have as much meat but it was just as good if not better. This year we're going to try Plymouth rocks, white and barred, in addition to the Cornish hybrids.

Our birds, once they were old enough to free range they got a supplemental feeding of grain screenings 2x/day. Otherwise they were on their own to forage. Everyone who tried our chickens were very pleased with the taste.

-- Trisha-MN (, February 19, 2001.

Someone mentioned some of the roosters getting tough or stringy. If these birds are for your own table, pressure cook the beggars! A pressure cooker covers a multitude of sins and tough meat, regardless of species, is one of them. Even if you want fried chicken, pressure it first, drain, batter dip or use an egg/crumb coating then fry in a skillet or oven fry until the coating is done. Tenderest, juiciest fried chicken you will ever eat.

-- marilyn (, February 19, 2001.

We raise Cornish X. We think they are delicious, butcher them about 10 weeks.

-- Cindy (SE In) (, February 19, 2001.

We've raised both Cornish Cross and regular large breeds for meat for about 5 years now in portable ground pens. We found Cornish X to be quicker to weight and easier to process, thus more cost effective. One thing we found was to not feed them as much as they can eat. We fill the feeders twice a day ( amount depending on size and number of birds in a pen) but make sure the birds are still a little hungry. They move around well and we suffer few of the leg or heart problems many express. They do grow a bit slower, this way, but the tradeoff in fewer management problems is worth it. As an added bonus, our customers love the way these birds finish out with plenty of white meat.

-- ray s (, February 19, 2001.

Last year I did a little experiment. In addition to the cornish crosses, I got some heavy breed roosters. On the same feed (broiler crumbles 22%) they were much slower and even at 12 to 15 weeks, when I butchered, they were pretty small, dressing at 2 1/2 to 4 lbs. And not being white, most of them were a bugger to pluck. I'll not do that again. With the cornish crosses, I have been able to avoid the heart and leg problems by letting the feed run out in late afternoon, and filling feeders again in morning. They still dress at 3 1/2 lbs at 6 weeks, and up to 10 lbs at 12 weeks, though most are 8 to 8 1/2 lbs. They are not exactly fastidious, but if I don't crowd them, they are reasonably clean. If inside, make sure you have plenty of litter. GL!

-- Brad (, February 19, 2001.

Thank-You, Thank-You, Thank-You!!!

A wealth of knowledge here...maybe it will keep me from making a few mistakes! {grin}

Really, You have all given me excellent info and I do appreciate it! Now, I'll be better able to decide which route to go!

-- Wendy@GraceAcres (, February 19, 2001.

I have raised many of the chickens that others have mentioned here. Went through all the leg and heart problems.

A couple of years ago I discovered Silver Laced Black Giants offered by Red Top Chick Farms of Marietta PA. (Ad on page 89 current issue of Countryside). I had no leg or heart problems and they were very hearty birds.

They weighed 6lbs at 8 weeks 8lbs at 10 weeks. The feathers of thesse birds are similer to a Barred Rock, I sell most of my birds to the Ethnic Market and they prefer the colored feathers over the white. They are easy to pluck (most all birds are if you butcher young). They don't have quite as much breast as the Cornish X but I had no complaints from my customers.

I start them on Purina Meat Builder feed free choise, sure it is a little pricey but I think the benefits out weigh the cost. At 3 weeks I slowly switch them over to a lower protien (lower cost too) grower feed.

When the birds feather out I move them outside to portable pens and move them to fresh ground daily. At this time I also cut their feeding back to twice a day all they can eat in about 30 minutes, usalaly their is still some feed left in the feeder when they quit.

I wish I could purchase some more this year but I have been having a serious predoter problem, until I solve that I will have to continue buying grown Roosters from other folks.

Well that is my excperience. Good Luck!!!

-- Mark in NC Fla (, February 19, 2001.

I am raising chickens for the second yr in a row. I called my mother, who has butchered more than her share of chickens in her lifetime, to ask which breed to order for a meat bird. She told me whatever I do, don't order those Cornish Broilers. She said she had way too many problems with them, and their is alot of fat on them. The rapid growth causes too many problems. So.... I took her advise and ordered Black Giant Cockrels from

-- Maylene (, February 19, 2001.

Mark, I read the ad you mentioned for red top chick farms.......why on earth are their chicks so cheap? I must admit to being suspicious! I have paid a bit under a buck a chick (and up to three bucks for rare breeds ) from many differnt hatcheries over the years, which I always thought was a reasonable price, and these people are asking about a TWENTY FIVE CENTS??? hmmmm. many did you raise? do you know anyone else who has dealt with this company in the past, or how long they have been in business? I am intriqued by your positive experience, and still like to try one pen of something different every year, so am curious about anything other info you could give me. Thanks so much!!

-- Earthmama48 (, February 20, 2001.

After trying Cornish X and suffering high losses, we switched to Kosher King Cockerals from Clearview Hatchery. Much stronger bird with few losses. At 8 weeks dresseed out at 3 to 4lbs; 10 to 11 weeks dressed out at 5 to 6lbs. Raised in pens on pasture. At 3 weeks fed turkey grower which is high protein but no antibiotics, hormones, etc. We were very pleased with the taste and overall results and will raise them again this year. 100 chicks @ $55.00. We raised 200 birds.

-- Gayle (, February 20, 2001.

Earthmama48, I belive the price quoted in the ad for Red Top Chick Farms in Countryside are for an assortment, the assortment may be what they have left over and will be all roosters. Around $1.00 for pullets sounds like a fair price but for roosters that would be high. I don't remember (it was 2 years ago) how much a chick I paid, it was more than the Special Asortment but still a great price. They charge a 1 1/2 cent handling charge per chick plus shipping.

I have raised 600 of the Silver Laced Black Giants, 100 at a time over 2 seasons. They were hearty birds and I would recomend them. As I recall they don't offer many rare breeds, mostly practical homestead type chickens. Call and order theiir catalog it is worth the look. Good Luck!

-- Mark in NC Fla (, February 20, 2001.

We purchase HY-Y Broilers through Hoover's Hatchery of Rudd, Iowa. They are larger breasted, less fat. They take about a week longer than Cornish Cross Broilers. We pay 65 cents per chick and start them on Purina feed in the am and pm. We restrict their feed so that they don't grow too fast. After 5 weeks we switch them to a lower protein. We are usually ready to butcher at 8 weeks yielding 6 pounders on average. We have had 9 pounders before also. Our figure for raising them is around $4.00 per bird which includes bedding, feed and the chicks. We also put an electrolyte in their water for the first month. The birds have a coop with a door to go out and feed on grass. We have people begging us to sell some dressed out birds to them. Most are willing to pay 1.50 per pound. These birds really do have a good flavor and are not real fatty. Tender also. If you order a late batch of chicks in August, the price drops to about .46 bird.

-- JoAnn (, February 21, 2001.

We have been raising Cornish Crosses for the last 4 years, with good success. They are the biggest, laziest and dumbest birds there are though. One way we've learned to avoid leg problems is to raise their feed dishes high off the ground so the lazy buggers HAVE to stand up to eat. Otherwise, they'd spend their lives laying at the feed and consuming all your profits.

We raise to 12 weeks and butcher out. We feed all organic and have no problem selling all of them and leaving 40 or so for our freezer.

-- Lisa In WI (, February 22, 2001.

I have found the best eating chickens to be Light Brahamas, they grow slower and they make wondeful roasting chickens. They are also fairly good egg layers in winter. They are tame and easy to work with. We butchered the roosters at 12 weeks and some dressed out about 4 or more lbs. The pullets we butchered at 4 months and they dressed out equally nice. They do not consume as much feed as the Cornish Cross and do well on pasture. I would not raise naything else again. I have noticed some hatcheries have smaller light brahamas than the ones we had. We just bought a rooster and 2 hens from an auction and hatched the eggs in an incubator.

-- Joseph Meyer (, February 22, 2001.

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