Cornish X have weak but sometimes big hearts


IMG_0078.JPGI found Big Hoss 5 feet off the ground, soaking wet, standing in the rain, miserable as a chicken can be.  He refused to go inside until his hens were inside.  They were up in the tree above him.  Because Big Hoss is a CornishX Grocery Store Meat Bird, he can’t fly.  According to the chicken industry, he shouldn’t be able to get up on top of the coop in the rain.

Industry has deliberately bred the Cornish X to be stupid, mostly so they stay put and don’t complain much about the horrific conditions meat chickens endure during their short lives.  The way that the chicken industry plans it, chickens like Big Hoss live 6-7 weeks then end up at Safeway as Foster Farms, or Harvest Market as Perdue’s Rosie/Rocky.  There is no difference in their short, miserable lives.

But you can’t account for heart.

I have had a couple hundred of these meat birds and eaten most of them.  Big Hoss clearly had heart from an early age.  Many meat birds don’t worry about anything but eating.  When Big Hoss finds food, he calls his hens over and lets them eat first.  For a 14 pound guy bred to be hungry all the time, that can’t be easy.

Industry breeds the CornishX to be a slab of meat and to love to eat.  Their incredible growth rate makes them the most carbon neutral animal on earth.  That’s miracle breeding.

But you can’t breed for heart.

Bad hearts yes.  All the CornishX have weak hearts.  Industry didn’t give a flying Trump about the general health of meat birds.  Their breeding is as sociopathically cynical as it is miraculous.  Just a little effort could have given them good hearts.  Just a little time spent could have prevented them from having genetically painful leg injuries.

I raise my CornishX meat birds to be very healthy.  Organic, non-gmo where I know, veggies and bugs. No unnatural chemicals anywhere, no antibiotics but plenty of Kefir grains and probiotics.  I never have any leg problems in mine.  They are strong and live longer than industry says is possible.

So I can’t wait until Big Hoss breeds with his hens.  So far he has two “wives” but will get more. He has earned it by  watching over his hens so faithfully.  He warns them about the dog and the man and tries to put them to bed in the dry.  But they won’t go.  So he goes as high as his 14 pound body will take them, doing what nature tells him, guard the hens.  He was born July 1 so he is not sexually mature yet. He has yet to crow.  He will likely weigh close to 20 pounds when full grown.  He was bred to be a monster, not a gentleman. He may not know how much he defies industry and corporate power, but together, we are doing just that.  He gets what is literally a one in a billion thrill of living with his own hens, finding bugs and standing up to the dog and the hawk, even if  done a little bashfully.IMG_0080.JPG


One hen is CornishX/white rock crossed with Brahma.  The other is CornishX crossed with Leghorn.  Should make some terrific meat chickens. Unable to talk Big Hoss into leaving his hens, I caught all three of them and put them in the box where Big Hoss prefers to sleep.  As you can see, he’s not terribly thankful. He’s right.  It’s really my fault, not having built them a roost all three can use.

20 billion CornishX meat birds live on earth during any year, the most of any farm animal. Almost all of them live in giant barns, never seeing the sun, never having a shard of veggies.  The organic ones eat organic feed, the others eat regular.  Every bird in the grocery store is CornishX.  The X is a secret, developed in laboratories.  Until about 1950 all chicken breeding was “open source” or free to everybody.  Farmers shared their breeds.  Since 1950, all the public/farmer breeding has slowed to a near stop.  The varieties that required hundreds or thousands of years to develop have been mostly tossed aside.  Industry has shrunk all the egg layers they have kept and made them lay at an unhealthy rate and live lives in cages.  The meat birds have been developed solely to grow big and fast.  Industry likes to say regular farmers can’t breed and grow their own naturally.  But Im here to say otherwise.  So is Big Hoss.

DSCF2579.jpgI put my CornishX and CornishX crosses outside on day 5, just like the mamma does.  Sometimes I get lucky and a momma adopts these clumsy dinosaurs.  As you can see another fault in industrial breeding is the lack of feathering.  My second generation ones do have regular feathering.

One of these is a Turken cross, complete with the naked neck on the big body.  They are not beautiful chickens.  Some are greedy or mean.  But among CornishX like among any group of animals (or people) there is always a brave hearted guy like Big Hoss.DSCF4467.JPG

The CornishX find themselves at the bottom of the pecking order, as they are clumsy due to fast growth.  They don’t seem to mind.  They are incredibly mild mannered.  The males often pair up with single females very early in life.  Females as young as 4 weeks old will take in newborn baby chicks, putting them under their wings, defending them from roosters, humans and all comers.     They don’t seem to be mean to anyone.  This duck always thought it was a CornishX


Since most diseases come from hatcheries, I am going to hatch my own meat chickens, now that I have all the store-bought stock I need.  Id love to get input from people who might want to buy my meat bird chicks at about $5 each and my meat birds when raised at $5 per pound.  That’s break even cost at best.  I also plan to offer processing for those who buy chicks and want me to slaughter them and cut them up when ready to eat.


6 thoughts on “Cornish X have weak but sometimes big hearts

  1. What you are doing for these chickens is so admirable! I have always wanted some CornishX but everyone has told me that they just suffer until you put them out of their misery at a pretty young age.


    1. Not really true. If you free range them EARLy and make them go a long distance to their food, they will get strong and stay healthy. Their hearts do get them sometimes. I have sent the ones that died in for a necropsy and its always been heart failure.


      1. What do you consider free ranging? I have all my chickens in a large yard but it is completely fenced in including the top because we have dogs in the area that would have no qualms with killing everyone of my biddies.


      2. What is free ranging is a big question. U have to keep them safe, so I wouldn’t put them out where dogs are. I like to provide them with enough room where they don’t ever run up on the fences. But this is pretty rare. Everybody has fences. With CornishX, they really need to go FAR. Like 200 feet to eat. The closer their food bowls, the worse their health in my view…


  2. Sorry, that sent before I was finished. Big Hoss sounds like a great chicken! If only my males were that good… In the spring, I would be interested in getting some chicks from you. 🙂


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