I Want My Free E-Book On Egg Laying Chickens

The Cornish Chicken Breed Profile – All You Need To Know

cornish chicken

If you’re confused about the Cornish Chicken and the Cornish Cross, you aren’t alone. Even for a chicken fanatic, digging up the correct information on these two varieties of chickens can take time.

So, let’s sort that out right off the bat—the Cornish chicken is not the same as the Cornish Cross broiler. The Cornish Cross is a hybrid of the Cornish and the Plymouth White chicken, which we bred to produce the meat you see in the grocery store.

Cornish Crosses combine the weight of the Cornish and the visual appeal and growth rate of the Plymouth White to create the lovely large chicken breasts you take to the grill every summer.

With that being said, the Cornish is, in its own right, a very impressive chicken. Previously, the Cornish was called the Indian Game Chicken, and some sources and breeders still refer to it.

Even though it was referred to as an Indian Game Bird, it was not developed in India. Rather, it originated in England.

Cornish Chicken Breed


The Cornish chicken is a hefty bird with closely-knit feathers giving the chicken the appearance of a more slender fellow.

Their feathers are a mishmash of colors that commonly include iridescent greens, brown, and blue; however, they can also come in white and buff.

In general, Cornish chickens aren’t considered the beauty queens of the poultry world, but they are still unique in their own way.

Cornish chickens have a piercing, almost threatening look about them. Their eyes seem laser-sharp, and their features tend to portray that of an angry chicken, a mad wet hen, if you will.

Which does, in fact, mirror their temperaments in some ways. In fact, they were initially bred to be game birds—more on that soon.
dark cornish chicken


These meaty chickens can weigh in at around 9 lbs., thus the source of our modern-day Cornish Cross.

Their size is certainly large enough to feed the entire family. So, while they appear slim and sleek, they are actually quite muscular and hefty.

One might even refer to the Cornish chicken as a stocky bird due to its short neck, wide skull, and well-spaced legs (which causes the Cornish Cross a few problems down the line when their body weight becomes too much for their legs to handle).


The Cornish chicken will produce a minimal amount of eggs over their lifetime because they weren’t bred for breakfast—they are a dinner bird for sure.

However, the eggs they do lay are small and light brown. So, if you decide to add this breed to your flock, don’t plan on more than 160 eggs or so a year.

As far as mothering abilities go, the Cornish hen ranks pretty high on the helicopter mom scale.

This momma will go broody more frequently than you might think for a meat bird; however, her tight feathers do not make for the best nursery, and thus she will not hatch out as many chicks as some of your other hens.


As you may have guessed, this chicken’s specialty is all in the muscle of her physique. She is a rough and tough, mighty gal that can feed the family dinner with some leftovers for chicken noodle soup the next day.

The Cornish chicken was bred as a meat bird and a game bird, which is the reason for the intense weight of her body.

If it weren’t for the slow growth rate of the Cornish, there wouldn’t have been much of a need to develop the Cornish-Cross. Additionally, the skin of the Cornish is yellow, rather than the publicly appealing pearl-white of the Cross.

If you thought you understood the difference between the Cornish Cross and the Cornish, here’s a wrench for your gears: the Cornish Hens you often buy at your local grocery are typically just younger Cornish or Cornish Crosses. Got it? Got it.

Cornish Chicken Breed


While the Cornish chicken does well in warmer climates, they cannot thrive and tolerate the cold weather as well.

Because their feathers lay tight to their body, they do not provide the insulation other, fluffier, breeds enjoy.

Since the Cornish is meant to provide meat for the family, it wouldn’t make much sense to keep them during cold winter months since they are already slow-growing, and they will mostly save their energy to keep warm, not develop muscle.


While the hybrids of the Cornish will not free-range well, the Cornish itself fares pretty well when scrounging around the yard.

They will fit in quite nicely with the rest of a free-ranging flock…unless, of course, there are roosters involved.

Cornish Chicken Breed


The Cornish was developed from breeds known for their fighting abilities, hence the name Indian Game Chicken.

However, the efforts to create a heavy-weight fighter were all for naught— they just couldn’t cut it in the fight ring.

With that being said, it’s important to recognize that the Cornish chicken does have an aggressive temperament.

Typically this means the hens will want to be at the top of the pecking order, and the roosters will not always be the most pleasant tenants. This is a trait that followed the breed down from the initial game birding efforts.

While the heavy-weight chicken failed in the ring, it was well-received by those looking for a bird with a high yield of meat.

Thus, the Cornish chicken was embraced by chicken enthusiasts, eventually cross-bred, and became the mighty ancestor of the grocery cutlets in your freezer.

If you want to raise your own meat, but the thought of the Cornish Cross, and their disabling characteristics, turns you off, why not just go back to their roots and give the Cornish a shot?

They may grow slower than your typical broiler, but if you free-range them, they may be a tad tastier with all that natural protein they will be pecking out of your garden.

Cornish Chicken

7 thoughts on “The Cornish Chicken Breed Profile – All You Need To Know

    1. I would like to know if any one has frizzle chickens that like to be handled and are friendly. We got two at two weeks old, one is a frizzle and the other one has just got feathered feet. And another two were four weeks and six weeks old with feathered feet.when we got them. But the only time they come near us is when we feed them.although they don’t seem to be scared of us.

      1. I love the frizzle chickens. They say they are not a breed but a mutation. I have only 2 or 3 rooster frizzles left there full sized birds well 2 are the other is a bigger small bird. I love them !! I had small frizzle hens very kind nice girls.. you just have to spend time with them ,talk to them they understand it seems like !! I love my chickens !!

    2. me oersonaly i wouldn’t have them unless you keep them in a pen if they get in poop or mud then they walk around with it on their feathers most the time so thats why i don’t like them

  1. I would like to join your enthusiast of chicken lovers. I am a beginner and l hope to learn more from you.

    1. I was given 4 chicks by my son. He just said they were sold as Bantam’s. One turned out to be a tiny black Frizzle. They were put with a broody Bantam hen which I kept in a rabbit hutch for protection. When they were ready to come out into the yard, the frizzle had to be gently pushed out the door. Later, much later I learned that Frizzle’s don’t fly, boy did I feel bad. All the other chickens loved her. She was a talker and love to be around me. All the family took to her like none other! When it came time for her to roost for the night, she would look up at the first rung, walk under it and back and forth until she got up the nerve to attempt jumping up to it. She’d miss every once in awhile. She’s gone now but how we miss her.

  2. The Plymouth Rock is a versatile heritage-poultry breed, ideal for eggs, meat, temperament, mothering and appearance. Here’s all you need to know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *