Monday, August 8, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Cornish Cross Meat Chicken

Last week we processed (that's a nice word for "butchered") our Cornish Cross meat chickens.  Though it wasn't the first time we processed chickens, it was the first time we processed any animal we'd raised.  And I admit, despite their lack of personality and live-to-eat mentality, I almost got verklempt when the first fat boy went into the killing cone.

Yet I survived and am writing this post to report on our experience with the Cornish Cross.  There are many complaints about these chickens out there, but do the positives outweigh the negatives?  They do, for us, more or less, but we're curious to try some Freedom Rangers in the future, just for comparison.

The good: Our Cornish Cross took about 7 weeks to mature, but we ordered all males and they grow faster than females.  Next time, we'll probably order a straight run (males and females) because it's cheaper.  Most of the birds dressed out at over four pounds!

The bad: Cornish Cross are not, by any means, hardy chickens; nor are they sustainable.  We lost three to the extreme July heat and ran a fan out to their field pen every day for almost two weeks after that fateful afternoon.  We plan to order earlier next year.  In addition, Cornish Cross do not reproduce well, so we'd like to find a breed that's both edible and prolific.

Raising Cornish Cross Meat Chickens: A Cost Analysis
Note that this does not include the cost of building the field pen, which we will re-use year after year; nor does it take into account labor.
Number of chicks: 52 (we ordered 50 and were sent 52)
Cost of chicks: $120.50 (includes shipping)
Losses: 5 (3 to the heat, 1 mysterious early death, 1 developed leg problems)
Number of Chickens Processed: 47
Cost of feed: $175.88 (non-GMO)
Cost of processing: $30 (we bought the propane)
Total cost: $326.38
Cost per bird: $7
Cost of locally raised chicken: We can't find pastured poultry here; we were paying approximately $12/bird where we lived previously.
Cost savings: $235
Taste: AMAZING!  The most tender chicken I've ever had!

To find out more about the butchering process, click here.  We don't have the equipment at our place yet but would like to someday.

As a side note, it seems that whenever we process chickens, we come away with more than we bargained for.  Byron fell for this guy on the way to the killing cones, and Jeff, seeing the look in his eyes, told us to take him home:

Meet our new rooster, a Partridge Rock Bantam (I think).  The old Barred Rock ladies have taken to him quite nicely.
I'm linking up with Homestead Revival's Barn hop again!  Click below to read some great blogs:


  1. We ordered some freedom rangers this time around with our Cornish Roc Xs. They seem to be doing okay so far, even though it's so hot. They just came in last Thursday though.

    Cute rooster! We ate ours after he went after one of the boys - at least we got a few chicks out of him first.

  2. Haha! This guy will have the same fate if he goes after one of the kids!

  3. Your rooster looks like my RIP Welsummer. He had to go to the freezer retirement home when he attacked my son, my husband, and then me when my back was turned.

    After predator loss of my hens in the spring, I had to buy replacement pullets, but apparently not all Craigslist sellers know poultry terminology. I thought I was buying 5 young hens, but apparently not, I've got 5 young roosters who are growing quickly and are duking it out with my Buff rooster. Another month and they will be joining the others in the freezer!

  4. PaulaB52 - So sorry to hear about your hens! The farmer whose processing equipment we use (in exchange for labor) gets roosters ALL THE TIME from people who order straight runs! We butchered several for him last week.