All A Farmer Needs To Know About Cornish Chickens, The Number One Heritage Meat Breed

If you’re a farmer looking for a new breed of chickens to raise, you might have heard of the name, “Cornish Chickens”. Cornish chickens are the true Cornish breed and are hence considered heritage chickens. If a new breed of chicken is what you’re looking for, the Cornish chicken might be exactly what you need. 

A Brief Overview Of The  Cornish Chicken 

The Cornish chicken was initially bred to be a fighting chicken. It was first successfully bred by England’s Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert in 1820. Sir Walter took India’s Red Aseels and crossed it with Black Breasted game chickens. By 1893, this breed was officially recognized by the American Poultry Association as the Indian Game birds. 

However, these chickens did not have the aggressive and edgy temperament wanted in game birds. It had the right build but it lacked the nature needed and this prevented it from being a truly exceptional fighting chicken. As such, the breed had its name eventually changed to Cornish instead. 

Now, the Cornish Chicken is a docile but excellent meat producer. There are several different color varieties within this breed. Of these, three have been officially recognized by the American Poultry Association. These three colors are Buff, White and White Laced Red Cornishes. The Black Cornish, however, is still awaiting recognition. 

What Makes A Cornish A Cornish 

Size of The Cornish 

To begin with, let us discuss the usual size and heaviness of a Cornish chicken. At first glance, they may appear to be skinny and small producers of meat. However, this is all an illusion caused by the way its feathers are attached. Cornish chickens are actually pretty big. After all, they were built for fighting. And hence, they can be very muscular and large. On average, these chickens can outcompete with the normally bred meat producer chickens. In fact, a male Cornish chicken weighs in around 10.5 pounds. The female is slightly lighter by about two pounds. It is thus a worthy chicken to be used for meat production. The meat is better than standard fare and it is also larger in size. 

The Cornish Temperament 

Again, as mentioned, Cornish chickens did not make good fighting birds due to their docile and calm nature. As such, the temperament of a Cornish chicken is usually pretty mild. Once in a while, some Cornishes do hatch with a slightly more aggressive temperament. But that seldom happens. Furthermore, as meat producers, these Cornishes won’t be raised for long. The temperament of any raised Cornishes thus isn’t a huge deal. 

Cornishes aren’t bred for their egg-laying qualities and this shows easily in their production rate. On average, a Cornish hen will only produce about 160 to 180 eggs in a year. Egg collection is thus, not a priority. However, a number of eggs will also have to be kept in order for you to have a constant supply of Cornish chickens. Their eggs are thus largely kept for breeding purposes. 

It is outstandingly clear that raising Cornish chickens for meat can be a highly profitable task. So, how do you raise them for that? 

Raising Your Cornishes For Meat 

1. Food

The most important aspect of raising Cornishes for their meat is their food. Since Cornishes are meant for meat production, Cornishes will often need to eat a great amount of food. This is to ensure that the Cornish grows to be a chicken with a solid amount of meat. The better quality their feed is, the better their meat will be. 

However, it is also important to note that Cornishes do not subsist on the same type of food their entire lifetime. Instead, Cornishes are meant to be feed starters initially and then moved on to broiler feed. The starter feed usually has higher protein and a continuation of that diet might negatively impact the Cornish chicken. Therefore, a Cornish chick is usually moved to broiler feed after its been alive for four to six weeks. They can then continue on broiler feed till they are slaughtered. If a hen is selected for egg-laying, it can continue on the starter feed or on another tailored feed type. 

When it comes to slaughtering the chicken, it would be best if you fasted it twelve hours prior. This ensures that the digestive system will be pretty empty and or clean. There would thus be less cleaning needed. 

2. Space Needed 

A coop is the best way to house your chickens. They would also need space to roam around and move. If you have a farm, this would be most ideal. For some, they would even have chicken tractors for use. 

3. Healthcare for Cornishes

Due to their pedigree, Cornishes have little to no health trouble. They are able to grow rapidly to good-sized chickens as long as they are given the right food. If you choose to keep a Cornish hen or rooster for production purposes, more care would have to be given into its diet to ensure that it does not grow too large or dangerous. 

4. Breeding 

Since you are planning to farm Cornishes for meat, you would need to continually breed new generations to ensure an ongoing supply. All you’d need is a few Cornishes from each generation. However, Cornishes do mature slightly slower than the standard chicken breed. Therefore, the egg-laying and fertilization process might take slightly longer than that. 


In conclusion, raising Cornish chickens is a great way for heritage meat production. These Cornish chickens are also easy to care for as they have little physical ailments. All that’s required is space and a good amount of high-quality feed. These Cornish chickens will prove to be an easy but useful source of income for farmers to raise. If a Cornish chicken is not what you’re looking for. You could also consider Jersey Giants. They are also heritage but they grow much slower. However, they are larger and better at laying eggs, when compared to the Cornish chicken. As such, they are also a great alternative.


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