First attempts with Cornish Crosses

With any luck, this is what I'll end up with when these babes are full grown. Photo credit: JB Farms

With any luck, this is what I'll end up with when these babes are full grown. Photo credit: JB Farms

Spring has sprung here on Howling Duck Ranch and it is marked with the arrival of the new baby chickens. I have ordered 50 day-old Cornish Cross birds for meat. They are said to be easier to raise than the straight run Cornish broilers with less chance of heart attacks and water-belly that the broilers (regular supermarket birds) are prone to.

The arrival was not without its complications. They were supposed to arrive on Friday afternoon on the mail truck. However, around 11 am I received a phone call from the Williams Lake Post Office letting me know the chicks would be arriving there at 5:oo pm, oh, and could I please pick them up before they close. The Williams Lake Post Office is a nearly 500 kilometer one way trip away!

Needless to say I spent the better part of the afternoon in a panic trying to find someone to care for the chicks over the weekend and arrange for a courier company to pick them up on Monday and bring them in to town. Thankfully, the feed store owner came through for me, they picked the chicks up on Friday night and the only courier that comes to Bella Coola said they would bring them in on the truck on Monday. Even so, the feed store owner was worried about them making another long trip without food and water being less than a week old by Monday.

As luck would have it, someone from Bella Coola dropped into the feed store yesterday and the feedstore pounced! Would you mind taking these chicks with that order of yours? Being a neighbourly sort (as many of us who live in the sticks are) he kindly obliged and my wee-uns arrived safely last night in the gentle care of a man I’ve only met once last year at a party! He did a fine job as everyone arrived alive and well.

So, this morning’s chores once again included the now routine ‘poopy-bum patrol’. So far, everyone still looks well. In fact, I’ll be surprised if I lose any more (one was lost in the mail before making it to the feed store). If there are no other losses, this will be the best rate I’ve had. Usually with 50 chicks I expect to lose 2-3 chicks in the first week. Fingers crossed for these babes.

I decided to try the Cornish Crosses for two reasons this year: my customers wanted a heavier meat bird and I want to breed them into my range birds. I’ve been breeding a heavy heritage mix of bird over the past few years in an attempt to get the best of all worlds: a good egg layer, good meat bird, efficient range bird, and cold heartiness. In the end, the heritage breeds are only so big and don’t have the real ‘meatiness’ of the breast that we’ve become used to thanks to the hybrid birds of the commercial flocks.

I’m by no means doing a professional job of this. I’m not worrying about line-breeding or incubating generation after generation. Mostly my chickens take care of themselves. They do the mating and the hatching on their own. My only hand in the process is to cull the ‘Jenny Craigs’ (the skinny light bodied chooks) and ensure good breeding stock. So far, we’re all quite happy with the program.

This year however, now that I have these Cornish Crosses, I plan to separate some of the bigger hens and mate them to the Cornish Roosters. We’ll see if those plans pan out!


Filed under Chickens, Educational, Ethical farming, Heritage foods, Sustainable Farming

7 responses to “First attempts with Cornish Crosses

  1. Mitch

    What Good Looking Birds

    Cornish Crosses Sound Like a good Breed
    I Have to order in Around 25 Chicks soon

    How have you been Latley I Have Commentd for a while We have had some severe storms recentley so i a Have been very busy cleaning up
    Today will Be a Good Day thought Lots of sunshine

    Anyway Just decided to Comment to see how your going


    • MItch,

      I’m doing well now that spring is finally here! The air smells amazing. There is a scent that marks spring here, it is very distinctive. As for the Cornish Crosses being good only time will tell. The hatchery says they are a good breed but since they’ve arrived I’ve been doing some research on the web about them and there is a lot of people saying they are not so good and expressing their unhapiness with them. So, I hope I can raise some to breeding age and breed them to Pavarotti. I’m going to aim to breed the size into my flock and see if I can develop a bigger, meatier, free range chicken. Wish me luck!

      Gee, what is up with your weather? Or is it always like that where you are (where are you again?)



  2. Kaylee

    That sounds like a lot of fun! I hope you have good luck with all the new Chicks!

  3. Hiya; hey, there’s a search box on the top left corner of my blog page — it’ll search my blog as a default. Good luck with the cornish. They’re pretty hardy birds; we didn’t lose very many at all once we got past the shipping mortality.

  4. Will be interesting to see how your breeding program works out. I’ve heard from friends that the CornishX’s don’t hold up in the long run.
    We have a big problem here with white or light colored birds as the predators seem to go for them first.

    • The predators are always a problem here too. I just lost my last duck to a fox yesterday. She (Mrs. Mallard) was more a pet and family member than a working girl. As I write this I heard what sounded like two .22 shots–here’s hoping my neighbour has just gotten the fox! As for the breeding program, I’m hoping too! It looks like the real trick will be to raise some CC hens that actually live to breeding age. (What have we done to these poor animals eh). It is criminal really.

  5. Mitch


    I do wish you Luck with Your Cornish crosses hoping things will go well for you In the future

    As for our weather its Heading into winter so we are expected storms today it was going down to 1 degree that’s in Celsius

    We have just had bad storms and we had a few Small tornadoes just touch down but No damage was recorded

    The worst of it all Was the flooding i lost 3 roosters 1 of them silky Then 2 hens and From Flooding They pen that they were in at the time sunk and the water rose to high for them And they drowned

    Hopefully The rains will go Soon But from what i can see now i don’t think it will stop

    Oh and I’m From Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

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