Can You Keep Cornish X Chickens as Laying Hens?

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6 month old Cornish X pullet.

6 month old Cornish X pullet.

 To find out the fate of this pullet, visit this post.

Cornish X Chickens for Meat

Cornish X chickens have been hybridized for fast growth and economical meat production, making them unsuitable for keeping as pets or laying hens. They usually grow so big, so fast that their legs and hearts are unable to withstand their bulky size. Normally it isn’t a good idea to keep them much past their suggested butchering age of 8 weeks.

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Comparing the Cornish X pullet eggs to duck eggs.

Comparing the Cornish X pullet eggs to duck eggs.

 

 But Can They Lay Eggs?

Now, having said that, the Cornish X hens are capable of laying eggs like any other chicken. They have all of the proper anatomy for the job. If you raise your meat birds on a normal chick starter feed, rather than high protein meat producer feed, they won’t grow as quickly. Allowing them pasture to roam will also keep them in better shape so that they can act more like a normal chicken. It is possible that these changes will produce a chicken that is better able to survive and lay eggs like your normal laying breeds.



Would I advise keeping Cornish X chickens for laying hens?

No, normally I wouldn’t. But then I have a tendency to forget my own advice. This spring I raised a batch of Cornish X chicks for our freezer. As they grew, I noticed that one little pullet was pretty small. At 7 weeks, when most of them were butchered, the runt wasn’t big enough to process. She was about twice the size of a normal chick but maybe half the size of the other Cornish X chickens. You can read more about her in my post The World’s Dumbest Chicken.

 

My Cornish X pullet at about 10 weeks.

 A Breeding Experiment

I put off butchering her and waited for her to grow.  I started to wonder if this pullet could be worth keeping as breeding stock for my own home hatched meat chickens. I don’t want to purchase the Cornish X chicks any more, because of the inhumane conditions in many hatcheries. So I’ve been toying with the idea of hatching out more mixed breed, dual purpose chickens. The extra roosters will be butchered at about 5 to 6 months and the pullets used for layer replacements. Perhaps this pullet will provide the genetics for a larger sized chicken.


Brutus, the rooster.

Brutus, the rooster.

But would she lay eggs? Would the rooster accept her as a normal hen and mate with her? Will she die of a heart attack or some other complication stemming from her larger size? I figured it was worthwhile to find out and assimilated her into the rest of the flock.

Well, the first question has been answered. The Cornish X pullet is laying an egg almost every day at the age of 6 months. She has been laying for about 3 weeks and the size of the egg is a bit larger than most pullet eggs.

Now we just have to wait to see if the rooster will mate with her. So far, Brutus is not interested in taking part in this experiment.

Update: I never had any success hatching eggs from this hen. However, some of my readers have successfully hatched Cornish Cross eggs…please see the comments below.

Have you ever kept a Cornish X chicken as a layer? What was your experience?


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122 comments on “Can You Keep Cornish X Chickens as Laying Hens?

  1. Tiffany

    I know this is an old post, but I came across it and wanted to comment. Someone recently sold us an 8-month-old cornish cross who has just started laying. Most of her eggs are soft-shell or even shell-less, but we have gotten a couple hard-shelled ones and we put them in the incubator. The one we put in a few days ago is definitely showing signs of life and we hope to see a baby around the 26th of the month. We are so excited. We also found that our roosters are all interested in her and actually fight over her. Maybe this is because she’s slow to fight back or because she’s one of the only of-age hens we have right now, but she gets plenty of attention when she’s out and about with the rest of the birds. I’ll update when they hatch.

    Reply
      1. Tiffany Taylor

        Just hatched out the first baby! It’s a beautiful blue chick with a white beard, which makes sense, since the father is a splash easter egger. Her eyes had a hard time opening and needed some help before she could see enough to walk, but she seems to be doing well now. We are anxiously awaiting 3 more from our hen that seem to be growing great.

        Reply
  2. Donna Kelso

    Hi, a friend just gave me three, what she calls Cornish X hens. They are big and red and look like Rhode Island Reds. They are prolific eggs layers – at least one a day from each bird and the eggs are large dark brown eggs. Not sure if these are what she says or not. These are my first chickens, oh, and she said they are 2 yrs. old. Any ideas what they might be if they need a special diet? I will not be eating them. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Donna,
      Cornish X are white. You might have a Rhode Island Red, New England Red, or maybe a hybrid, such as the Production Red.

      Best wishes with your chickens!

      Reply
  3. Laura

    I just got 2 Cornish hens and my other chickens pick on them. I had to separate them. Will they ever stop picking on them? I will never kill one. I wonder if they will live long enough to lay eggs?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Laura,
      Introducing new chickens to a flock can be difficult at first. If possible, put the newbies in a pen where they can all see each other for a few days and then put them in with the flock at night. In the morning they should be okay…but keep an eye on them to make sure there isn’t any bullying going on. Give them places where they can hide if they are frightened.

      I have had cornish x hens lay eggs in the past, but they won’t lay as well as laying breeds.

      Reply
  4. Aynya

    An update on Iso:

    Since the last time I posted, my 1yo pet Cornish X Iso has gone broody (rather ironic seeing as though my BOs are three and have never done so)! She usually loves going outside to forage in the yard, but now she sits on the nest (which is in a corner of the coop because she’s too heavy to jump into the nesting boxes) basically all day. We are very excited to see if her clutch hatches and what kind of a mother she may be!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Oh my goodness! That is really exciting 🙂 I hope she is a good mamma hen and you have a nice hatch of chicks. Stop by and share the results if you have time!

      I have 15 cornish x in my coop right now. Although they are mostly meant for meat, I can see that there is at least one pullet that is more active and not an eating machine. I am planning to keep her and try this experiment again. Your comment has inspired me!

      Thanks for sharing, Aynya!

      Reply
      1. Tonya

        Hi, I’m still new to chickens and so in love with them! I was down to only one hen left and I got 6 new babies this spring and had a raccoon attack last night and lost 2 and one is injured. I did some major re-enforcement and of had to get some more chicks and then I saw some bigger ones in a spot by themselves and asked what they were and they just said “big white chickens” like the were nothing and well to me they were adorable so I got 2 of them also. Now looking online I think they are these cornish x and I see they probably aren’t going to live very long and I am just crushed! But I’m very thankful I ran across this page so maybe I can extend they time! Thanks so much for the advice!

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn

          Happy to help out, Tonya! I hope you have good luck with your chickens. Be sure they get extra protein in their feed to help them grow strong enough to support their weight.

          I have one Cornish pullet that I’m keeping this spring and I will be updating everyone on how she is doing.

          Best wishes! Thanks for stopping by and sharing. 🙂

    2. Debbie Brown

      I’ve enjoyed reading the convo here. I’m Debbie in cocoa, fl.
      I have a Cornish x rock sold to me as a “white Rock” ( lol).I’m doing the same thing here seeing how healthy and happy I can keep her.
      Waiting to see if my roo breeds w/her yet.
      She has a best friend, white Brahma.
      I have a full plate, a new project with a blind rooster, healing from accidental fight. I’m glad I’m not the only one raising chickens!
      curious on the size of the Cornish cross egg.

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn

        Hi Debbie,
        I’ve had the same experience buying ‘Khaki Campbell’ ducklings that turned out to be Black Cayugas…not the egg laying machines I was expecting!

        Feed her a higher protein feed if you can…or supplement with some protein. The Cornish x get so heavy that they need extra ‘building blocks’ for strong skeletons and muscles. Extra calcium, free choice, is best too.

        The hen I kept laid very well, but for a fairly short period of time. Her eggs were a normal, medium size when she was full grown. I ended up butchering her at about 18 months of age, so I can’t comment on how large the eggs might have gotten in her second year of production.

        I am raising some more meat chickens now and I have one pullet that is smaller and more active thant the others…so I’m planning to keep her and give this experiment a try again. I’ll make a more concerted effort to incubate and hatch her eggs this time. Last time I don’t think she was laying many eggs by the time I was ready to start a hatch and none of them were fertile. I also had more hens for the one rooster than I should have…so it may not have been her fault.

        Thanks for stopping by! I found your comment in my spam folder, so I apologize for taking so long to respond. Let us know how your hen is doing!

        Reply
        1. Amanda

          I’m so new at this chicken thing. We have one Cornish cross that feel off a truck and has lived in our garden for several months :). It’s a girl and I now know this because she laid an egg today :). Anyway, my understanding was to use a LOWER protein feed, to help slow down growth. Is it the other way around? Our girl gets a lot of exercise (and fresh produce, lol).

        2. Lisa Lynn

          Hi Amanda,
          That’s great that you are taking care of the escapee!

          Yes, a lower protein feed is better for keeping your Cornish x chicken from getting too huge. Enjoy your free ranging hen and her eggs. 🙂

  5. berri p

    I have a cornishx hen. Her name is noodle she was the little chicken. She lays eggs…she is freerange but she is very big. I had 4 but others died probably heart. They only live for about a year..noodle is on borrowed time but she seems to be a happy chicken so i am just letting nature take its corse……good luck to all

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Thanks Berri 🙂 This hen has been gone for a while, but I am raising more and hope to keep a couple more pullets this year. The one I had was such a comical creature. Noodle sounds like the perfect name!

      Best wishes to you and Noodle!

      Reply
  6. Aynya

    We have a Cornish X hen named Iso that we accidentally adopted and have kept as a layer. She’s quite a good layer, about one egg every day, although it’s amazing she doesn’t crush the egg with her hugeness. Our RIR rooster breeds with her the same as he does the others.

    One of her eggs hatched a few weeks ago. The chick is HUGE but doesn’t seem to have the compulsive eating issue that Iso has.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      That’s great! I’ve thought about trying this again. Hmmmm….you’ve got me thinking. 😉

      Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
    2. Holly Hoagland

      Hi,
      I have a 1yr old CornishX, and she lays a nice big egg a day, usually in the bedding straw in the corner of the hen house. The roosters have no problem mating with her. She wasn’t a runt or anything. She’s always been free range since about a month, and gets around as well as the others for the most part. She just doesn’t jump/fly up onto things like the others do. She’s the only CornishX that survived the fox attack, so I didn’t have the heart to eat her. I’ve started eggs in the incubator this month, so we’ll see what her babies will be. I call her Bertha Butt. Lol

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn

        Bertha Butt, that’s too funny! Let me know how the chicks do!

        I was just looking at Welp’s online catalog, thinking about ordering another batch of meat chicks. We just finished our last one from the freezer. So maybe I will keep a couple of the pullets and try this again.

        Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

        Reply
    3. Cassondra

      Is there any chance you could give us update pictures? I have been trying so hard to hatch eggs out of one of my broilers, but I just haven’t had any luck!

      Reply
  7. Kristina

    Hello,

    I have three Cornish X hens and two Polish hens. They are all about 5 months old. I hope they start laying eggs soon. This is my first time raising chickens so I did not want to buy all fancy chickens in case our neighbors dog ate them or something like that happened. To my surprise they are all doing very well. I am concerned about my Cornish X hens though as they are getting very large despite the larger pen I moved them into and feed restrictions.

    They can no longer walk up the ramp to the chicken coop so I have to physically pick them up each night and put them in the coop. My boyfriend thinks I am being ridiculous and should butcher them but I don’t have the heart because they are all so sweet. They do not have any visible injuries or signs of heart conditions but I am worried that I am doing them more harm than good by keeping them alive.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Kristina,
      I can understand your quandry. The Cornish X chickens are not bred to live beyond a couple of months of age and they are basically eating machines. I kept one ‘runt’ Cornish X pullet until she was over a year old, but even though she was small for her kind she had a lot of trouble getting around and had a tendency to lay in the feed pan and just eat. She did lay a few eggs but not many and not for very long. She was also much larger than any other hen I’ve ever had and I did butcher her in the end.

      I think that your pullets are likely to die at a fairly young age, but I can’t say what kind of quality of life they will have. Perhaps they will be happy and will die in their sleep. I wouldn’t want to tell you what to do with them, especially as they sound more like pets than livestock. Let your heart guide you in your decision. Best wishes.

      Reply
    2. Rachel McAden

      At least I’m not the only one who is being ridiculous. Lol. Mine are so fat I can hardly pick them up and I cried today when my boyfriend wanted to give one to neighbor to eat. It’s just different when it is your chickens.

      Reply
    3. Michelle w

      I myself am going to buy all Cornish hens to save them from the obvious future they would have without me… I have no plans whatsoever of eating them, as I’m a vegetarian, but may I suggest something? You should stop feeding any bag or industrialized food to your chickens. They will survive in optimal health if you let them eat from nature only. This is what I’m going to do with my hens. I’ve raked the backyard to stir up the bugs and cleaned Any hazards.. time to start the experiment. I will let you know what happens(hopefully they stay a normal weight) but you should definitely stop bag feeding. Chickens in the wild eat worms, bugs, specks of microorganisms, leaves, fruits and vegetables. Just allowing them to scratch the ground and peck all day is all they require. Bag food also contaminates the eggs.. go organic! They taste so much better.

      Reply
  8. Lucas De La Paz

    My Cornish cross is laying 2 eggs a day and my rooster is very fond of her. I am going to put her eggs in an incubator. She has no interest in sitting on a nest unfortunately.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn

      Hi Lucas,
      This sounds like a great experiment! Stop by and let me know how it goes.
      Thanks for sharing…Lisa Lynn

      Reply
    2. Anonymous

      I, too, have a Cornish cross hen laying an egg a day. She free ranges with the neighbor chickens, and got herself a pretty handsome Roo. I’m going to hatch a few in the spring.

      Reply
        1. Natasha Weaver

          I have just hatched 3 Cornish cross chicks in an incubator, layer by 6 month old hens….the hens have died since. I have two hens still surviving.

    3. Joseph lanr

      I have just been blessed with 24 grown hens and two Roos and they are laying.
      I plan on hatching the eggs as a large bird person what sort of chicken can I expect .
      As thes chickens are bread to size will this trait follow on the new chicks

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn

        Hi Joseph,
        You are likely to get white chickens of varying sizes. Most likely you will not get many that grow as big for early butchering as you would if you ordered Cornish X chicks.

        I would love to hear how your chicks turn out! Stop by any time with updates. 🙂

        Reply
      2. Dawn

        How did the chicks turn out Joseph? I’ve kept one of our Cobb hens and she lays every day, so I’ve collected 5 of her eggs, along with a few others and put them in the incy yesterday. The Cobb’s will be crossed with a legbars and the other hens (Warren’s) are crossed with Cornish game. Fingers crossed

        Reply
  9. Davy Jones

    I have raised 8 of these birds to egg laying age and have had my first egg today. I purchased 10 this spring and have only lost 2. I have 2 NH red Roos I am going to breed them with and see If I can get a crossbreed that will produce eggs and meat chickens with out them dying too soon of fast growth complications. The egg was on the small size, kinda pink/brown. My NH red Roos are a few weeks younger than the X hens and have not even started to crow. But when they do I will be adding them to the girls and see what turns out, nature finds a way. Will keep everyone posted. I think that I can create a sustainable flock this way.

    Reply
  10. Dallas

    How did you get on with breeding your Cornish?
    I have just started a very similar setup, breeding some lovely big Cornish with my heritage roo.
    but, weird thing – from the 2 hens that are laying, the one set of chicks are yellow with a small black dot. The other are black with a little more yellow than a Barred chick.

    Have you had anything like this happen?

    My main concern isn’t about color, but about size – did you find your offspring size and growth rate to be ok?

    Would really appreciate your feedback – or a link to a follow up article if you did one.

    X

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Dallas,
      I know that crossbreeding can produce some interesting colors and I have quite a few cross breeds in my flock. I know there are people who do experiment and share their results on some of the forums.

      Unfortunately, I did not get any fertile eggs from my Cornish X hen, and I ended up butchering her at around 1 year of age as she had stopped laying. She was very tasty!

      There are a couple of people who left comments here and on my post about raising meat chickens (I think) who had better luck with hatching eggs from their Cornish X hens. It seems that they grow faster than the heritage birds, but not as fast or as big as the Cornish X chicks. I still think it would be a good way to supply meat for the table, but after more than one generation, the fast growth and large size will probably decline.

      Reply
  11. Anonymous

    We started our own little flock as a project for our daughter. We have 2 cornish x that are about 18lbs at 5 months. I had planned on a nice dinner but that didnt pan out. Now they are laying every day. Nice big eggs. They sure eat a lot but no health problems yo note. We’ve decided to keep them as layers with the rest. I would recomend them as egg layers

    Reply
  12. Blake

    I hatched out Cobb 500 (broilers) and only 3 survived. 2 hens and 1 rooster. He would only mate with those hens. And when they went away, he didn’t mate with any other hens that I had. The roosters name was Henry and he lived to be a year old.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Awesome, Heather! Can’t wait to hear how they grow and what kind of meat production you get. 🙂 Thanks so much for the update. Best wishes with the little chickies!

      Reply
  13. Merrill

    Has anyone ever tried keeping a Cornish rock X rooster? Fed it a limited amount of feed throughout it’s life, {so it doesn’t get too big}. Feed it just enough too live, but not get enormous like it’s genetics would let it. Then crossing it with White rock hens. This should produce one quarter cornish, three quarters white rock meat birds. When mating it with white rock hens, make a feeder with holes only wide enough for the hens to get there heads in. A roosters head is about a quarter inch wider. A feeder high enough for only the rooster to reach. I’ve seen pictures of breeder pens and it appears this is how they feed the males differently from the females. I’m just trying to be self sufficient for meat. Wonder what other people’s thoughts are on my ideas?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Merrill,
      I have not tried this…so I can’t tell you what would happen. But I suspect that the rooster would get too large to mate properly, just like the broad breasted turkeys. They have too much breast meat to mount the female so they have to be artificially inseminated. I think you would have better luck with keeping the hens. However, since I haven’t actually tried this experiment, I can’t say this from experience…just my gut feeling.

      Let me know if you do try it…I would be very interested in hearing about it!

      Reply
      1. Cynthia Gee

        I kept a Cornish cross rooster to see how big he would get – he lived to be about 18 months old before dying of a heart attack, an he was MASSIVE, around 20 lbs. He was able to do all the things that a rooster does, though – crowing, mating, foraging, etc.

        Reply
  14. Heather

    Has anyone successfully crossed with cornish rock cross hens? My chicks are cornish rock cross hens crossed with my black austrolorp rooster… any idea how they will turn out? If so… Wil they be bigger then an austrolorp but slower at growing? If you have any info please let me know.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Heather,
      I didn’t get any eggs from my Cornish x hen to hatch, so I haven’t had any experience, but several people have commented on my blog letting me know that they were successful. The offspring did grow larger, faster than a heritage chicken, but not as large or fast as the hybrid Cornish x. Best wishes and please let me know how your cross turns out!

      Reply
      1. Heather

        I have had around 35 cornish rock/black austrolorp chicks hatch. They are sex-ling the girls are spotted the boy’s are plain white. They are 2-3X bigger then normal chickens, but aren’t growing as fast as pure cornish rock crosses.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          That’s great, Heather! Thanks for sharing the info. 🙂 Does it matter if the rooster or hens are the cornish rock or the black austrolorp? I know with some sex link hybrids, the rooster has to be one breed and the hen has to be the other.

  15. Jen

    I have a 6 day old Cornish Hen who is outgrowing our sex-link pullets and silkies fairly noticeably. (S)he is by far my favorite – so easy going and sweet. I am nervous about how quickly she’s gaining weight already. What can I do to keep her at a healthy weight? We do not want to give her away to become food nor do we want her legs to not be able to hold her up. Are we OK giving her regular started feed with the others and, when old enough, free ranging a few days a week?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Jen,
      You will continue to see that the cornish x will grow much faster than the rest of your chicks…that’s normal. They are a hybrind that is designed to grow to butcher weight by 6 to 8 weeks of age.

      To provide the most normal growth and lifestyle possible for the bird, give the same feed as your other chicks…starter feed for the first 4 to 6 months, then switching to layer feed when they should start laying. Take the food dish away in the evening so that the cornish x won’t continue eating overnight. Then give feed again in the morning. I found that my cornish x pullet would sit by the feed dish and just eat a lot. She still laid eggs and did great, but I found it necessary to butcher her at about 1.5 years old. Her feet and legs were having trouble holding up to her weight.

      Free ranging every day, or pasturing every day is a must. I found that mine would go outside and act kind of like a normal chicken, although she would sometimes run around in a circle flapping her wings, instead of running inside when there was a threat. It was kind of pathetic and funny at the same time. 😉

      With kindness, attention, and exercise, you chicken should live at least a couple of years. Best wishes!

      Reply
      1. Vicki Lynn

        Lisa Lynn – how was the meat of your 1.5 year old Cornish hen? She sounds like she was an interesting girl. I think it’s neat that you were able to keep her that long. 🙂

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Hi Vicki,
          The breast meat was very good, and there was a lot of it! The legs were a little bit tough. I used the breast meat for sandwiches and a casserole and the rest was pressure canned with some other stewing hens.

          She was a funny character, and it was hard for me to butcher her, but when I saw the sores on her feet, I realized that it was the right thing to do.

    2. Jen

      I just wanted to update everyone…I gave the Cornish X to a family down the road who doesn’t have much. It was not an easy decision or day for me, to say the least. I found after learning more and more about them that it wouldn’t be right to keep her as a pet. She would never have had the same quality of life as the rest of my flock.

      Reply
      1. Lisa Lynn Post author

        I’m sure that was a very tough decision, Jen. I’m glad you were able to help a family out. I did find that my Cornish x hen had to be butchered at about 1.5 years old…she had sores on her feet. But she did seem to enjoy life while she was here.

        Reply
  16. Heather

    I have successfully kept my large fowl Cornish Rock X hens alive and well and they all lay an egg a day some are double yolks, but some are normal size. I have Cornish Rock X / Black Austrolorp crosses in my incubator right now. So far so good I candles at 10 days and they were developing, so I will have my own meat chickens about a week from now. I limited their food and put them with my Black Australorp rooster and he successfully bred them, so it works!

    Reply
  17. Carlo

    I have a 7month old cornish X hen and still does not lay , its more than 5kg now was wondering if it will ever lay?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Carlo,
      It may not…they aren’t really bred for laying and it generally isn’t recommended to keep them as layers. However, there are many breeds that don’t lay until they are even older than 7 months. One thing that can cause a hen to lay poorly, or not at all, is too much fat in their abdomen. Because the Cornish X are eating machines, she may have packed on too much ‘reserve energy’ and it could prevent her from laying. They are usually raised just for meat production. I’m experimenting with mine because I had a runt and wanted to see if she would lay so that I could hatch some of her offspring.

      Let me know if she starts to lay, or if you decide to butcher.

      Reply
      1. Carlo

        Ok I hope she does, I won’t butcher her cause I keep her as a pet. I’ll let you know when she starts laying. Thanks

        Reply
        1. Poulet de Bois

          This is the most consistently helpful & informative thread I’ve found here, thanks! I have chance to get 4 white rock hens, I have a BCMorans Roo. Wondering what I’ll get if I hatch some eggs once the hens are fertilized and laying.
          Goal is to experiment with getting a meaty bird.
          Am now 1/2 way through raisingy first batch of Cornish/Rock chicks from TSC. They’re doing great.
          I cared for them the first several days then grafted them to my little Silkie hen who only ended up with one Olive Egger hatching. (Her Buddy Silkie Roo took her eggs to help I think, & they froze).
          I also bought her a bantam chick to pair w/ the OE to keep odds of civility up in that group, as well as when she enters the flock she won’t be alone. Plus I knew the CR would be butchered & gone in a short time.
          So far my experiment has been a wonderful experience, se one on BYC wrote that the disgusting aspect of raising meat birds does not have to be; he said its not the chicks but the husbandry; I agree.
          I did a lot of reading as I go along, & have combined some techniques of raising CR in US with raising Brise in France. Plan on finishing off 2 the last 2 wks with mash & milk & let the other 3 continue on free range, grower/feeder & scratch.
          Thanks again for the informative consistency. Very helpful & inspiring!

      2. Carlo

        Hey lisa, I just found my old post from 4 years ago! Hahaha my old cornish X hen that i kept as a pet died and did not lay, but just this January i bought 2 cornish x chicks again and just yesterday one layed egg and I found another one today, they are very heavy at 6kg each but their eggs are brown and quite small for their size.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn

          Hi Carlo,
          Sorry to hear about your old hen. I’m sure that you gave her a great life for a chicken!

          I’m not too surprised that she didn’t lay…although I have had quite a few people comment here that they did get eggs from their Cornish x hens.

          That’s great that you are getting eggs from a new pullet…congrats! The first few eggs are usually quite small, so she will likely start to lay eggs a bit larger as she gets older. Let me know what happens…I’m always interested in hearing other peoples’ experiences!

          I have a Cornish pullet I plan to keep and see if she lays eggs this fall. I would like to see if any will hatch. It’s an ongoing experiment. 🙂

  18. Michele

    I have a couple of Cornish X hens I kept, they are almost a year now. I have hatched eggs out of them and the offspring grow out at a decent rate. I find I can process the males at around 12-14 wks, and the pullet at 14-16 wk. The roosters are Dorking selected for showing, weight & meatiness. The offspring definitely have more breast meat than the purebred Dorkings. I prefer the taste of Dorking over Cornish X, the crossbreds taste better to me than the Cornish X, though I am a dark meat person. I have also raised my Cornish X under broodies, and I don’t keep free choice feed available to my birds, except my young show stock I’m raising. Everybody gets to free range.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      This is very encouraging to read, Michele! Thanks so much for sharing your experience 🙂 I am planning to hatch some fertile eggs from my Cornish X later this year. I have too many chickens right now…imagine that 😉

      Reply
  19. Raymond Sorin

    Hello, i’m thinking of starting a flock of layers from old (18 months) Bovan Brown hens from a neighbour with a young local mutt rooster. Will the old hen lay viable eggs?
    Thanks.

    Raymond

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Raymond,
      Your hens aren’t old 🙂 As long as the rooster mates with them you should have fertile eggs. I’ve read that a rooster can fertilize the eggs of 8 or so hens pretty well. If the flock of hens is much larger than that, he will have his favorite girls and it’s likely that the other hens won’t lay fertile eggs. So I would collect more eggs for hatching than you think you need. The offspring will be straight run…both boys and girls, so have a plan for the cockerels. You will need to butcher them, find homes for them, or keep them.

      One note of interest…around 18 months most hens will go into their first molt. So you might see a reduction in egg production from those hens soon.

      Reply
  20. Oscar

    Hi Lisa Lynn I Bought 10 Different Breeds Of Chickens Planning To Buy Whatever Else I Can Get A Hold Off And The First 1 We Got Was The Cornish Cross. The Lady Told Me It Would Be Good To Butcher At 6-8 Weeks. Ive Had Them 3 Weeks And The Cornish Cross Twice As Big As Any Other. I Think Ima Keep Her See How She Turns Out. Good Layers From What Im Reading Here!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Oscar,
      I hope that you have the same results as I have 🙂 But I can’t guarantee that you will. Usually they don’t recommend keeping them for that long because they can develop leg problems. But you could butcher if she starts to have problems and just wait to see how it goes. I can tell you that mine eats more than the other hens.
      Best wishes!

      Reply
  21. Dee W.

    If I breed cornish X hen to a Cornish X rooster will I get Cornish X chicks? I’ve heard that they will either produce rock chicks or Cornish chicks. Is this true?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Dee,
      The companies that produce the Cornish X chickens have interbred their stock so much that there are many other breeds incorporated into the genetics of broiler chickens. But even if it was as simple as two breeds used to produce the offspring, breeding these offspring will still not give you the same genetics as the parents. So, no, you would not get either Cornish or Plymouth Rocks if you bred the hybrids.

      Good question, and I hope my answer makes sense! Thanks for asking. 🙂

      Reply
      1. Dee W.

        Thanks! It did help! I just bought ten Cornish cross chicks today. I believe I’ll be satisfied with my purchase! 🙂

        Reply
  22. Bethany

    I have a beautiful cornishXrock that was small. We almost put her in the freezer with the males but she was little. She was the first in the bunch of pullets that started to lay and she laid almost everyday last summer and fall until the winter hit but while my other hens stopped laying… she kept going everyother day. She is a laying machine! Huge beautiful eggs more frequently than the other ladies in the bunch. She is now almost a year and going strong. Our brahma rooster has mated with her many times. 🙂 I feed her like my others and she is free range… still the smallest in the flock. Maybe its a fluke but I would def. buy cornishXrocks again for layers!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Bethany,
      How wonderful! She is paying you back for keeping her. 🙂 I’m not sure this would be a typical outcome, but mine is still laying too and I would try another runt again. 😉

      Reply
  23. mike

    from my experience a cornish x hen will provide a 2 yolked egg. this will explain the eggs’ size a bit bigger. my rooster is a cornish x as well, he didnt grow wide, he grew tall and a good breeder candidate really. i miss my pets…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for sharing your experience! My one Cornish X pullet is laying a medium sized, light brown egg on a regular basis. They are single yolked so far, but maybe as she gets older this will change. I’m hoping to try hatching them, if the rooster ever takes a liking to her. We’ll see what happens!

      Do still have chickens?

      Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Glad to have you here, Mickie! Let me know if there are questions you’d like answered…I’m always interested in knowing what readers want to read about. 🙂 Best wishes with your chicken raising!

      Reply
  24. philip

    hiii lisa
    nice to read your post. i’m from indonesia. and now i’m hatchering red sex link and all of them i think are rooster. i wonder to take cornish x hen as a layer. hopefully she can layer as a normal chicken.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Philip,
      I wonder how the red sex links all ended up as roosters. If you got them as day old chicks, they may have sent all males. The females will be red and the males will be white (with a little bit of red). If your Cornish x hen hasn’t gained weight too quickly or put too much fat on, she should lay eggs for you.
      Best wishes!

      Reply
  25. Linda Steiger

    Hi Lisa,
    Am excited today as i collected my first White Dorking eggs (4 from 7 hens). They are small pullet size and beige in color. Have saved the 2 best roosters and they are in with the hens (and my other 7 mixed breed hens). The other 7 roosters are going to freezer camp and I can’t wait to see if there is any appreciable difference in the quality of the meat(as they say about the Dorking breed).

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Linda,
      I can’t wait to hear what you think about the dorking meat! How exciting that you are getting eggs from the pullets now! 🙂 How old are the pullets? I’m wondering if they start to lay at a bit older age or not. Thanks for the update! Looking forward to hearing more, as I’d like to try this breed someday. 🙂

      Reply
  26. James ollom

    I have kept some Cornish crosses as layers. Most all eggs were double and triple hollers. Offspring hatched from the eggs did not have as good of feed to meat conversion as mothers had but still had the meatier breasts. They also took a bit longer to grow. Rooster used in my cross was buff Orpington .

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi James,
      Good to know! My rooster is an Easter Egger (probably I should say he is a mutt:)). Taking longer to grow is ok and the meat to feed conversion I can live with. I still see no interest on the part of Brutus, the rooster, but it’s winter and I’m not planning to hatch any chicks out until summer. Thanks for the input!

      Reply
  27. Kathi

    Did you know you can breed your own cornish cross chicks? I wrote a post on it some years ago http://www.oakhillhomestead.com/2010/05/hybrid-chickens.html. Basically a white cornish rooster and a white rock hen will produce “cornish rock cross” chicks. They naturally grow that fast. I’m still “planning” to do it lol.

    We have a local hatchery that hatches them; I know the owners and they are humane; I wouldn’t hesitate to buy from them, but I know not all hatcheries are like that.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Kathi,
      I’ve been wanting to try breeding them from that combo too. 🙂 Maybe the next time I need to order chickens I’ll give it a try. From what I have read, the modern hatcheries have added other bloodlines into the mix and the result is a chicken that grows much faster than the Cornish rooster and White Rock hen cross. But I am ok with having them grow at a somewhat more natural rate. A lot has to do with the protein content of their feed too. Thanks for sharing your post…I’m on my way to check it out!

      That’s great that you have a source for humanely raised chicks!

      Reply
    2. Linda Steiger

      Kathi,
      I’ve done a lot of reading on this very subject – hoping to breed my own Cornish Crosses. I was told the cross was White Rock or Delaware against a Cornish Game bird. I did try White Rock hens with a Black Cornish rooster but the chicks grew no bigger in size than any heritage breed. I was told by several breeders online that this crossing was only one of many in the equation and that’s why we as homesteaders can’t do it ourselves. Apparently it is a closely guarded industry secret how many crosses go into the chick we buy as a Cornish Cross. In order to try and raise my own meat birds I am trying the dual purpose White Dorking and Silver Grey Dorking (an English breed) which aren’t as heavy layers as the laying hybrids but they were THE meat bird of the l800’s. Mine are now 5 months old and just started laying so haven’t butchered any yet. I do have 7 extra roosters that will be processed so will be able to try the meat soon.. Don’t mean to burst your bubble but I don’t think we can pull this breeding phenomena off on the farm. Keep us all informed if you get any encouraging results.

      Reply
      1. Kathi

        Thank you, Linda. I appreciate hearing about your experiences. I’m not surprised to read that it’s a well-kept secret that there are other crosses behind the final product. I’ll look into the dorkings, thank you!

        Reply
      2. Lisa Lynn Post author

        This is all good info to know, Linda. I have been told that the crosses that go into the Cornish x are still changing to grow faster and earlier. What people expected from a meat chicken up into the 1900’s was very different than what we expect to find in the grocery store today. It may be more a matter of learning to appreciate the natural growth of a chicken. Having said that, I would still like to try coming up with some meatier birds that grow faster than the typical dual purpose bird. Keep us updated on those roosters!

        Reply
  28. Stable Road Homestead

    Hi, Lisa Lyn. I appreciated your article. We raise Cornish X for meat too. Though, the fact that they are hybridized to grow so quickly has been a small concern. I also have wondered whether or not they would lay. Now I know. But, we won’t keep them as layers. Ours are usually in the freezer at about 6 weeks.

    What other bird to do like to raise for meat?

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Stable Road Homestead,
      Good decision. 🙂 I’m amazed that I have one laying so well! I have also raised turkeys and ducks for meat. I have Pekin ducks now and plan to hatch some out for meat in the spring. They grow as quickly as the Cornish X and are quite tasty. So I consider them a pretty good substitute for the meat chickens. I hope to raise turkeys again soon…but it seems we always take off on vacation around the time that they would be small and in need of constant care. Perhaps I’ll try some heritage turkeys next and they will be able to raise their own young for me. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Reply
      1. Steven wahlborg

        I saved out a runt Cornish /Rock hen as well, she laid a double yoker almost every day. never got one to even start growing in the incubator. the hen was 29 pounds live weight when her heart gave out. The Eggs seemed fertile when examined.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Hi Steven,
          Double yolked eggs don’t hatch well, if at all. If the embryos actually develop, the chicks usually die before they hatch. But it does seem strange that there was no development at all.

          29 pounds is huge! That’s bigger than most of my turkeys 😉

          Thanks for sharing you experience!

  29. Erin Blegen

    I’ve only ever had Cornish bantams as pets and they have always laid just fine :). Of course they were raised from the start as a layer and were fed just as my other layers were. I have only one little Cornish now, a Red-Laced White Cornish bantam and I simply enjoy picking her up and holding her because of her stocky build and weight, she feels so much different than the others! 🙂

    I look forward to following your experiment! I’m sure Brutus will come around 😉

    Erin
    http://yellowbirchhobbyfarm.blogspot.com

    Reply
    1. Lisa Lynn Post author

      Hi Erin,
      Your Cornish bantams sound very cute and fun to keep. 🙂 The Cornish X have been hybridized and bred for fast growth and are very different. But the one I kept is doing quite well! She feels like a small turkey when I pick her up! Which I don’t do very often. 😉

      I need to look into bantams when I have room for more chicken breeds. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply
      1. slordaz

        We too are waiting to see, the Barred rock Rooster is quite interested in the 2 hens we have integrated and free ranging with our flock will let you know.

        Reply
    1. krmn

      I love cornish , I always have cornish, with the other chickens
      , and cornish hen lay good size eggs,(jumbo),
      the red barre roo is mating with her cornish hen,,..une Delaware try to mate, but he can’t
      and I try to get some cornish chicks, and No good luck, the eggs have one problem,.. the egg yolck is to big, and no much white , for start developing the chick!!… I will keep trying.

      Reply
    2. Jeff

      We kept 20 meat chicks unsexed with the hope of them laying eggs for our own meat supply.Eleven mths on we have only 8 hens left.We feed them like a normal chook in a big yard and this kept their size down but they are always hungry so they attack you at feed time thus hurting them self and that is why there is only 8 left.We had to put a light sussex rooster in with them as we had no cornish roosters.They are starting to lay but I only get one egg every second day so the excercise was not really worth it.Better to buy day old chicks.

      Reply
        1. Lisa Lynn Post author

          Thanks for sharing your experience, Jeff. I decided not to keep any more Cornish X pullets unless I get more space and really have the urge to experiment again. The one I did have was butchered at about 1 year old and she was the size of a small turkey…but she ate a LOT of feed.

          Now I mostly butcher most of the roosters and old layers for our chicken. I do have a few meat birds in the freezer and when they are gone I will probably just raise Pekin ducks for meat instead. They grow almost as fast and as big as the Cornish! But they don’t have the health issues.

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