Best Meat Chickens - the Cornish Cross
Identifying the best meat chickens is easy. It's the Cornish Cross, otherwise known as Cornish X or the Cornish X Rock and sometimes known simply as an X Rock. You'll recognize the product label Rock Cornish Game Hen that can be found in the meat department of many grocery stores. This is an immature Cornish Cross chicken.
So, what makes the Cornish X Rock such a great chicken to raise for meat? Among other things, it's the simple fact that the feed to meat conversion ratio for an X Rock is the highest of any domesticated animal. In other words, you get the greatest amount of meat from this animal for the least amount of feed. That means efficient meat production at your homestead or backyard chicken operation.
That's only one of the reasons that this hybrid makes for one of the best meat chickens one can raise. There are other reasons, so let's dive in.
I know it sounds funny, but I'll bring up the idea that these birds have great focus when it comes to meat production. It's as if they come with complete instructions and they're following them, to the "T" without hesitation or exception. All these birds do it eat.
That's it. No lounging about. No card games. No conversation. They just eat.
Well, with that kind of focus, it's no wonder they're one of the best chickens for meat. How could they possibly disappoint us with their production of meat when they have such dedication with respect to feed input?
Let me assure you that they aren't at all disappointing in the area of meat production because one of their other qualities is growth speed. You can almost watch these birds grow each day.
I'm not exaggerating at all. You'll notice a change in the size of these birds on almost a daily basis. I've seen them double in size in just one week. They can go from a day-old chick to the freezer in just nine weeks. That's just a little over two months.
Is there any other animal that is full grown and ready for the table in just over two months? I can't think of one.
Another reason that X Rocks are one of the best meat chickens is their size. At nine to ten weeks, they are large and just right for whatever you're accustomed to using chicken for. Let them go another few weeks, and you'll have a bird that is much larger than you'll ever see in the grocery store.
It's possible to raise a Cornish Cross chicken to ten pounds, fully dressed and ready for the oven. A chicken in the grocery store usually weighs about three to four pounds.
Once I let my Cornish Cross chickens grow to about 12 pounds, and then barbecued just the breast portions from one chicken on the grill when I was having company one evening. When my company arrived and they saw the chicken, they remarked, "Oh, we're having turkey!" It was hard to convince my guest that what they were seeing was a chicken. I had to explain that I had just cleaned the chicken that afternoon, so there was no doubt that it was a chicken and not a turkey.
Anyway, you get the idea. If someone can mistake the breast portion of a chicken for a turkey breast, and insist that they know turkey when they see it, then these animals truly have tremendous meat production capability. Hence, my recommendation to you. If you're looking for the best meat chickens, you need look no further than the Cornish Cross.
Another factor that makes the Cornish X one of the best meat chickens is they are readily available. They aren't a bird that requires a special request from the hatchery. They are a normal cross that hatcheries provide.
Lastly, I find the Cornish Cross to be one of the best meat chickens because it's inexpensive to purchase as a chick. When other birds are two to three dollars a piece, the Cornish Cross is about one dollar. You can probably get them even cheaper if you buy them in larger quantities.
Are there other meat birds out there? Sure. There are others to choose from, but I think this breed is one of the best meat chickens because they provide fast, efficient meat production, and they're cheap and easy to come by. What more could you be looking for?
Done with Best Meat Chickens, back to Backyard Chickens