How to Breed Cornish Chickens

A cooked Cornish chicken.
A cooked Cornish chicken. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Cornish chickens are a small, stocky breed that are perfect for meat. Cornish hens are not good egg layers, but instead are prized for their large size and ability to put on weight quickly. Cornish chickens are popularly sold under the moniker "Cornish game hen" and are purchased as a smaller alternative to the larger broiler and roaster chickens. Because they grow quickly and are often sold at a premium, Cornish chickens are a great breed to add to your farm if you are looking to expand into producing meat.

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken coop and wire
  • Cornish pullets
  • 1 or more Cornish cockerels
  • Incubator

Build a separate pen and coop for the Cornish chickens. Since this breed is a bantam, they are likely to be low in the pecking order. The Cornish chickens could get injured if kept with other, more aggressive breeds of chicken. Additionally, when building a coop and pen for your Cornish chickens, give them more space than you would normally allot to your other chickens. Cornish hens need space to flourish.

Purchase your Cornish chickens at the pullet stage. If you prefer to raise them from day-old chicks, plan on breeding them once they reach the pullet stage.

Locate or purchase a few Cornish cockerels. Depending on the degree of breeding you are interested in doing, you may prefer to raise or purchase your roosters and keep them on your premises. If you are breeding on a smaller scale, it may be better to borrow a Cornish cockerel from a neighbor or solicit for a stud at your local farm and feed store.

Introduce the males into the coop with the Cornish hens. Allow them to remain for at least a couple of days, to ensure that the rooster(s) mate with all of your pullets. Remove the rooster(s) and pen them separately, or return them to their owner.

Create the right conditions for successful laying. Feed your hens at least twice a day. Laying Cornish hens will be expending a lot of energy and will need to be fed accordingly. Maintain the temperature in the coop as best as possible. If there are any drafty boards or holes, patch them up.

Watch your Cornish hens closely. If your hens are reluctant to leave their nests and have puffed up their feathers, they are broody and are incubating a fertilized egg. Do your best to make sure all eggs are being incubated by a hen. If there are any that are being neglected, you can remove them and keep them in an incubator indoors.

Wait 21 days for your eggs to hatch. Care for your new chicks as you would any other breed. At this point, you can care for them and raise a generation of hens for meat, or you can sell some of your chicks to other breeders.

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