Cornish Chicken: Characteristics & Best 26 Facts

Cornish chicken (also known as Indian Game) is a meat chicken breed from the county of Cornwall in the United Kingdom. Cornish chickens and the crosses of this breed are most popular and widely used breed in the chicken meat industry.

Most of the modern broiler chicken breeds were developed from Cornish chicken breed. This breed is known variously by Indian or Cornish Game depending on country.

Cornish chicken breed was developed by Sir Walter Gibert around 1820s. And in 1893 it was accepted by the APA (American Poultry Association).

In America (until 1905 when the American Poultry Association passed a motion to rename the breed to Cornish Indian Game) Cornish chicken breed was originally always known as Indian Game.

This poultry breed was renamed to simply the Cornish in 1910 due to the unpopularity of the use of Game in the name and also due to the confusion this name caused by implying the breed came from India.

In some other countries like Australia this breed is still known solely as Indian Game.

Physical Characteristics of Cornish Chicken

Cornish chickens are heavy and muscular birds that lay brown eggs. There are two varies of Cornish chicken. The Cornish Game and the Jubilee Cornish Game.

The Jubliee Cornish Game chickens are less stocky and much lighter than their counterparts. And the Cornish Game is dark blue – green in color with brown patterning in the hens.

The Jubliee Cornish Games are usually light wheaten in color, with light brown patterning. Cornish chicken is also quite popular show bird and it comes in many colors.

Due to widely spaced hips this chicken breed has a tendency for bad legs. It also becomes an excellent backyard meat bird when crossed with a Dorking or a Sussex chicken.

Cornish chickens are not good layers. On an average, they produce 160-180 eggs per year. Cornish chickens are aggressive in nature, but relatively easy to handle and the hens are good mothers. They need more space compared to any other breeds.

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So, Cornish chickens may not be suitable for the suburban poultry keepers. They have pea comb and their feathers tend to be thinner.

They can tolerate all climates but can’t do well in excessive cold. On an average, a Cornish cock weights about 3.86 kg, a hen about 2.57 kg.


Cornish chickens are aggressive in nature. But they are relatively easy to handle, calm and friendly. Hens are good mothers. They grow faster and reach slaughtering age earlier than other breeds.

And the Cornish chickens are excellent forager. See full breed profile of Cornish chicken below.

Breed NameCornish
Other NameIndian Game, Cornish Indian Game, Indian, Cornish Game
Breed PurposeMeat Bird
Breed TemperamentFriendly, Bears Confinement well, Calm, Docile, Quiet
Breed SizeLarge Fowl
CombPea Comb
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Egg ColorBrown
Egg SizeMedium
Egg ProductivityMedium
Feathered LegsNo
VarietiesCornish Game, Jubilee Cornish Game

The Good

  • Beautiful
  • Calm
  • Docile
  • Excellent forager
  • Friendly
  • Free range well
  • Great meat birds
  • Good mothers

The Bad

  • Can be aggressive
  • Can’t perform well in excessive cold
  • Medium eggs
  • Not good layers
  • Prone to parasites

Is Cornish Chicken Good for You?

Cornish chicken is good for you if you…….

  • Are looking for beautiful birds.
  • Want to raise some meat birds.
  • Are willing to have some chickens which are good mothers, friendly and easy to handle.
  • Want to raise some chickens which are excellent forager and can free range well.
  • Are looking for some hardy birds.
  • Want to raise some show birds.
  • Want to enhance the beauty of your backyard.

Cornish Chicken Facts

Cornish chickens are a versatile and hardy breed that is well-suited to a wide range of environments and management systems. Whether raised for meat production or as backyard pets, these chickens are a beloved breed among poultry farmers and enthusiasts. Here are some interesting facts about Cornish chickens.

  1. Cornish chickens were developed in Cornwall, England, in the early 1800s. They were bred for their meat and were originally known as Indian Game birds.
  2. They were first imported to the United States in the late 1800s and quickly became popular among poultry farmers and enthusiasts.
  3. Cornish chickens are a large breed of poultry, with males weighing up to 10 pounds and females weighing up to 8 pounds.
  4. They have a distinctive, broad breast and a compact, muscular body.
  5. Cornish chickens are popular for their meat, which is lean and flavorful with a mild taste.
  6. They are often used in crossbreeding programs to improve the performance of other chicken breeds, such as the broiler chicken.
  7. Cornish chickens are hardy and adaptable, and can be raised in a wide range of environments.
  8. They are active and alert, with a strong foraging instinct.
  9. Cornish chickens are relatively disease-resistant and are not susceptible to many of the common chicken diseases.
  10. They are easy to care for and require little in the way of special management.
  11. Cornish chickens are good foragers and can thrive on a diet of pasture, grains, and supplements.
  12. They are docile and easy to handle, making them popular among small-scale farmers and backyard enthusiasts.
  13. Cornish chickens have a high feed conversion rate, meaning that they are able to convert feed into body weight efficiently.
  14. They have a short lifespan, with most individuals living no more than 10-12 weeks.
  15. Cornish chickens are popular among chefs and gourmet food enthusiasts for their tender and flavorful meat.
  16. They are often used in restaurants and gourmet food stores, where they are marketed as Cornish game hens.
  17. Cornish chickens are a popular breed for 4-H and FFA poultry projects, where they are raised for show competitions.
  18. They are relatively quiet and are not known for their vocalizations.
  19. Cornish chickens have a distinctive, red comb and wattles, which can be used to determine the gender of the bird.
  20. They have a thick, yellow skin that is prized by many consumers.
  21. Cornish chickens are a popular breed among backyard poultry enthusiasts, who appreciate their hardiness, adaptability, and docile nature.
  22. They are adaptable to a wide range of management systems, from free-range grazing to intensive confinement feeding.
  23. Cornish chickens are often raised in small flocks, with 10-20 birds per flock being common.
  24. They are not known for their egg production, with females typically laying only 80-120 eggs per year.
  25. Cornish chickens are a versatile breed that can be used for a wide range of purposes, from meat production to show competitions.
  26. They are a beloved breed among poultry farmers and enthusiasts, who appreciate their hardiness, adaptability, and delicious meat.

Tips for Raising Cornish Chicken

Here are some tips for successfully raising Cornish chickens.

Choose the right breed

Cornish chickens are a meat breed and are not suitable for egg production. Before raising Cornish chickens, make sure that they are well-suited to your goals and management system.

Purchase healthy chicks

When purchasing Cornish chicks, look for healthy birds that are free from disease and deformities. Inspect the chicks carefully for signs of illness or injury.

Provide adequate shelter

Cornish chickens are hardy and can withstand a wide range of temperatures, but they still need access to shelter in extreme weather. Provide a shelter that is large enough for all of your birds to stand and lie down comfortably.

Provide clean water

Clean, fresh water is essential for the health and well-being of your Cornish chickens. Make sure that your birds have access to clean water at all times.

Provide high-quality feed

Cornish chickens require a balanced diet that includes protein, carbohydrates, and essential nutrients. Provide a commercial feed that is specifically formulated for meat birds.

Manage grazing carefully

Cornish chickens are not known for their foraging abilities and are best raised in confinement. If you choose to allow your birds to forage, manage your grazing carefully to avoid overgrazing and soil degradation.

Provide vitamin supplements

Cornish chickens require adequate levels of vitamins, particularly vitamins A and D. Provide vitamin supplements as needed to ensure that your birds are getting the nutrients they need.

Provide adequate fencing

Cornish chickens are active and alert, and they can be escape artists if not properly contained. Provide sturdy fencing that is at least 6 feet high and secure enough to prevent your birds from escaping.

Practice good biosecurity

Cornish chickens are susceptible to a range of diseases and parasites. Practice good biosecurity by limiting access to your farm, disinfecting equipment, and quarantining new birds.

Monitor for signs of illness

Cornish chickens are generally healthy, but they can still get sick. Monitor your birds for signs of illness, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or respiratory problems, and consult with a veterinarian if needed.

Provide regular veterinary care

Cornish chickens require regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and deworming. Work with a veterinarian to develop a health care plan for your birds.

Maintain good hygiene

Good hygiene is essential for the health and well-being of your Cornish chickens. Keep your birds clean and dry, and regularly clean and disinfect their living areas.

Provide adequate space

Cornish chickens are social animals that thrive in groups. Provide adequate space for your birds to move around and interact with each other.

Practice good record-keeping

Keep detailed records of your Cornish chickens, including breeding records, health records, and production records. This will help you monitor the performance of your flock and make informed management decisions.

Manage breeding carefully

Cornish chickens have a short lifespan and are typically raised for meat production. If you choose to breed your birds, manage breeding carefully to avoid inbreeding and other problems.

Provide regular slaughtering

Cornish chickens are typically slaughtered at 6-10 weeks of age, depending on their size and weight. Schedule regular slaughtering to ensure that your birds are harvested at the appropriate time.

Provide regular cleaning and disinfecting

Regular cleaning and disinfecting of your birds’ living areas can help prevent the spread of disease and parasites.

Monitor for signs of aggression

Cornish chickens are generally docile, but males can become aggressive during the breeding season. Monitor your birds for signs of aggression and separate any aggressive birds from the rest of the flock.

Provide adequate ventilation

Proper ventilation is essential for the health and well-being of your Cornish chickens. Ensure that their living areas have adequate ventilation to prevent respiratory problems.

Manage brooding carefully

Cornish chicks require careful management during the brooding period to ensure their health and well-being. Provide a warm, dry, and draft-free environment, and monitor the temperature regularly.

Monitor for signs of leg problems

Cornish chickens have a heavy body and are susceptible to leg problems. Monitor your birds for signs of leg weakness or lameness and provide appropriate care as needed.

Market your birds effectively

Cornish chickens are popular among consumers for their tender and flavorful meat. Market your birds effectively by networking with local chefs and gourmet food stores, participating in farmers’ markets, and advertising your birds on social media and other platforms.

Attend workshops and seminars

Attend workshops and seminars on poultry management and production to stay current on best practices and new developments in the industry.

Join a poultry association

Join a poultry association for Cornish chickens to network with other breeders, access resources and support, and stay up-to-date on industry news and events.

Rotate pastures

If you choose to raise your Cornish chickens on pasture, rotate your birds through different pastures to prevent overgrazing and soil degradation.

Enjoy the process

Raising Cornish chickens can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Enjoy the process and take pride in your role as a poultry farmer and steward of these hardy and adaptable birds.

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