Raising Jumbo White Cornish Cross for Competition

Whether you are raising for FFA, County Fair, State Fair or simply wanting to raise your Cornish Cross as quickly and efficiently as possible, here are some tips, tricks and advice on raising Jumbo White Cornish Cross meat birds.

Jumbo White Cornish Cross - Meyer Hatchery

Getting Started

The first important thing to do when raising Meat birds for competition is to double check rules regarding the age of the chicks at the time of entry. Sometimes they need to be ordered for delivery on a specific week and other times you just need them to be between certain weeks of age at fair time.

Next, confirm what your options are for your entry. Is it a set of 3 Birds? A single Bird?  Does it matter if the birds are male or female? I recommend going above and beyond by raising more birds than are required for an entry. Extra birds allow for potential losses during shipping as well as losses throughout the process of raising them.  I like to have at least twice as many chickens to choose from at the end than what I need for competition. The extras can fill the freezer and make great future dinners at home, so not at all a waste to have more finished-out Cornish Cross.

Jumbo White Cornish Cross - Meyer Hatchery

Raising Your Project Birds

It is recommended to read our Help Desk Article Brooding Cornish Cross Broilers 101: How to Raise from Hatch to Processing to understand the foundation for successfully raising Cornish Cross. 

The most important thing to keep in mind when raising Cornish Cross for competition is keeping their stress level low.  Do this by protecting them against inclement weather, and temperature extremes, and making sure they have fresh drinking water and proper nutrition. Growth occurs most efficiently around 70 degrees, however, their first few weeks, while becoming fully feathered, still require meeting the minimum recommended brooding temperatures. Once out from under the heat source, it is best to keep them at least at 70 degrees so they are not burning energy to stay warm.

Keep food and water in containers that chicks can reach but not crawl into or spill.  Since cornish cross can easily overeat, which can cause illness or even death, we recommend feeding 12 hours on and 12 hours off after the first week. Allowing Cornish Cross to free feed 24 hours a day can result in higher mortality.

Keep your Cornish Cross on clean bedding. When feces builds up it can increase the risk of your Chicks developing Coccidiosis which will result in slower growth rates and even death.  Learn more about Coccidiosis here.

Keep your feed dishes a bit elevated as this forces the chicken to stand up to eat, which results in a stronger breast as well as greater fullness to the breast feathers.  Cornish that lay down to eat end up losing a lot of their breast feathers which will reduce your project’s score during competition.

Selecting Entry Birds

When it comes to competition, you will need to take a few things into consideration when selecting your entries. If you are entering 2 or 3 birds you are going to want to select birds that are of the same sex and are as close as possible to the same weight. For example, if you have 1 bird that is enormous and looks fabulous, but you need to enter 2 birds, you might have to pass up that single bird to select from slightly smaller chickens that better match each other.  The single bird can be best left for a solo entry. 

You will want to bathe your chickens to remove any dirt and dried poop. Here is a wonderful Youtube video on bathing your chicken for show. How to Give Your Chicken a Bath

Jumbo White Cornish Cross Broiler Day Old Chicks - Meyer Hatchery

Showing poultry can be rewarding and you are sure to learn so much each time you participate. Meyer Hatchery wishes you the best of luck at your next poultry show!

Have any tips or tricks of your own? Feel free to comment below to share your knowledge with others.

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