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Large Fowl Cornish
Cornish X Rock (CX) Meat Birds
My ‘ideal’ meat bird project
My thoughts on Dual Purpose (DP) vs. Cornish Cross (CX)
Cornish (Large Fowl).
I believe that an average Cornish, in the large size, from breeder bloodlines, or a truly outstanding hatchery quality male- can be used as a phenomenal terminal sire for the average old barnyard flock of hatchery quality hens. The added meat animal advantage overwhelms the lack of practicality- and the often times ‘double breast’ never hurts either.
The line of LF Cornish females that we sell hatching eggs from, and young stock- trace back eventually to a set of hatchery quality females- who over the generations have always been mated to extremely high quality show quality males. The Cornish that we sell, will either be ¾ or 7/8 show/ breeder quality Cornish. I prefer to keep a little hatchery quality blood in these birds to help with my egg laying ability. If on a breeder bird diet, my Cornish females will crank out 5-6 eggs a week.
The little bit of hatchery quality Cornish blood in my birds works to my and my buyer’s advantage, why? This creates a much more self sustainable, reproducible bird. I have 8 out of 10 people request to have a sustainable bird, rather than a show quality one.
Yes, the one of the original parent stock of the Cornish x Rock broiler bird was a White Cornish- but trust me when I tell you that was many, many years ago (50’s)—and today’s broiler breeders have very little actual Cornish blood, or look about them. For the most part, they are nothing more than large breasted, fast gaining, white, single combed birds. Not to mention that high quality White Cornish are nearly extinct it seems.
From what I have found, the large Cornish come in 3 APA recognized colors: white, white laced red, and dark (black laced red). In addition, several breeders (such as us) are working to create a blue laced red variety, and possibly a few others. From a meat bird standpoint, color or lacing really doesn’t matter to most people.
Cornish x Rock (CX), broiler birds.
Well, as their name would lead to… Cornish x Rock, means they originally were a cross between White Cornish, and a White Plymouth Rock way back in the beginning (40’s or 50’s)- but since then, specific grandparent strains of these birds have been created (A,B,C,D)- and a few other breeds and strains have been injected into them. A hybrid (A/B & C/D) is created, and then those two hybrids are mated together to form a poly-hybrid (ABCD); which is the current day broiler bird. Common theme, the name stuck and so did the Cornish’s reputation. Quite honestly, they are the furthest from any Cornish bird that a bird could ever be. As with all hybrids, I would not expect to get a Cornish or a Rock by crossing broilers any more than I would expect to get a Black Orpington by crossing two Black Australorps. Simply put, these birds should not breed true- or consistent.
Through the years, the broiler industries biggest suppliers have been specifically breeding these birds by the thousands, millions even—and selectively rebreeding with birds that possess the desired traits. Today’s broiler birds, have four distinct grandparent lines of birds- that magically click together to reproduce this phenom of a white bird that’s consumed to the umpteenth degree by humans. With regards to the four grandparent lines- they are kept very secretively under lock and key (honestly I bet nobody could ever recreate them), and I would guess two of them are specifically terminal sire lines, and two maternal dam lines. I have heard that the hybrid parent stock of the commercial white broiler are available to the general public, at a cost—but the grandparent lines will never be.
It’s my speculation that originally, some gene mutation occurred, which created the huge breast and great feed conversion- something like double muscling in cattle. Another thought I have, is maybe it’s similar to the stress gene in swine- in which added leanness and muscle shape come but if two copies of the gene are present- leg and health problems also occur. Just my speculation though!
All the time, people are talking about how they know these birds have the Cornish in them, and they want to go out and get Cornish and make their own- simply put- the average person couldn’t have enough of these birds to genetically select the superior from, or the financial funds to support it.
You CANNOT DO THAT… Why? Because these birds have been selectively bred for generations on a mass scale of millions of breeder birds; and they look nothing like any of their "original" ancestors... They are simply exactly the same as their parents... Big, white, meaty, single combed birds- Cornish are not single combed.
More links for the CX birds:
Broiler Breeder video:
Similar to the CX chicks, backyard flock owners can purchase Freedom Rangers, or their various names. Freedom Rangers are a slight version of the CX in a more free range type package. "Freedom Rangers" is the American name for birds originally bred for the Label Rouge pasture-based poultry program that comprises about 30% of the European poultry market (and cost about twice the conventional meat).
Here’s a link to better talk about the FR.
On a personal note, if a person wants the best bang for their buck in terms of filling a freezer full of chicken meat each year- these birds cannot be beat... Why reinvent the wheel? Now, if a person wants some enjoyment out of it and a family project- then go dual purpose.
My ‘ideal’, meat bird project cross idea.
I've said it many times, but I'm confident that a cross of any true Dual Purpose breed, True Cornish, and the Cornish X birds to the effect of 3/8 Cornish, 3/8 Dual Purpose, and 1/4 CX; would have the ability to become an outstanding meat bird candidate- with some consistency.
As previously stated, I have the strong belief that a true, breeder quality/ seed stock Cornish rooster can be a tremendous terminal sire on the average ole barnyard flock of hens, even as much on a flock of heritage or higher quality females. I think that they possess outstanding muscle and meat animal shaped carcasses. I do not believe that most of the hatchery quality Cornish is as good of an option-- as far too many times what I have seen coming from these lines isn't much better than the other hatchery quality chickens-- and if compared to a high quality, breeder bird of most other breeds... the hatchery quality Cornish birds aren't as quality either. To me, when you think of carcass and meat bird potential... I rank the following in order: CX, Breeder Q Cornish (eventually), Breeder Q other Dual Purpose breeds, hatchery quality Cornish, and hatchery quality other DP breeds. The pure Cornish are just too slow maturing to compare to the CX birds, IMO.
If I were into a project such as this... I would try out some limited feed intake CX pullets, some BQ DP birds, and some BQ Cornish birds. I would be gearing towards trying to create a consistent base of F1 CX(f)/ DP(m) (For males) birds and a F1 strain of Cornish(m)/ (Cornish(m)/ DP(f)) (for females)birds...and try mating these two lines back with each other to create my end product.
Like this to clarify: for those who won't be able to figure it out...
Strain 1- Cornish/ Rock X females mated to Dual Purpose (any breed really) males. Keep the males from this cross to use later.
Strain 2- Cornish Males mated to Dual Purpose (same breed as above) females... Keep the females…>Mate those daughters back to a Cornish... Keep the females...
Mate the males of Strain 1 to the final product females of strain 2.
Here's why I chose what I did... The CX males, will not be able to successfully cover very many females, even though the females will be terrible egg layers... you only need a few of their sons. We want to utilize their genetics, but minimize their exposure- thus keeping them on the sire side. Put those CX females under active, fertile DP roos- breed really doesn't matter; as long as they have quality and growth/ meat potential.
DP hens for their laying ability in Strain 2- cover them with TRUE Cornish males as a terminal type sire... Keep female offspring-- come back on those females again with a Cornish roo-- can be their father, doesn't matter. Try keeping the egg laying ability of the DP females through the generations. These should be far superior to the CX descendants, although not as good of a layer as a leghorn.
The end product would be 3/8 Dual Purpose, 3/8 True Cornish, and 1/4 Cornish/ Rock X. That's plenty enough hybrid vigor effect to generate practical, productive meat birds.
The key to making this work, needs to be that the DP birds used on each side of the pedigree, should be from the same breed, and more specifically the same bloodline- the same holds true on the Cornish- most ideally the sire needs mated back to his daughters, IMO. By using the same genetics, but with different sequence- the resulting offspring should be consistent enough to suit that factor.
One thing I cannot stress enough is starting out with quality, breeder type birds… Sure the same results can be obtained by using hatchery quality birds- if you want to spend 100 years doing so- and still end up comparing mouse burgers to elephant burgers. The other thing I need to stress is retain the very best, most elite offspring from each hatch to continue forward with. Eventually, you’ll either have enough, or have a breeder base established in which you’ll be able to begin butchering the most elite offspring from the final, terminal cross.
One last thought, this breeding process needs to be constantly on going, with every step- in order for you to continue breeding, and making replacement stock. If you stop one step, it may throw the entire breeding scheme off- especially if you have some tragedy with a set of breeder hens or males. It’s best to keep some backup breeders for these cases as well.
Maybe I shouldn't have let out my secret???
Anyone want to join me in this experiment? I have the TRUE Cornish, hardest part??? I also have the Cornish x DP birds already as a female base>
Here's one last thought to leave you all with... If you would like to have a dual purpose, egg laying, meaty, ornamental flock of birds... buy yourself some leghorns for eggs, Cornish X for meat, and pheasants to look at-- you'll be time and money ahead.
My thoughts on DP vs. CX.
Here's my take on the subject..
Either way, I see the feed bill as irrelevant. If you keep a DP bird, for twice as long, but they eat half as much... does it matter if your glass is half full, or half empty? If you're planning on free ranging, most likely you'll free range with either scenario to help with feed costs.
If you want to save money, by not buying chicks every year, go DP. On the other hand, if you don't want to spend the money to maintain a trio of breeder birds for an entire year- go CX. I'd say that those two will basically cancel each other out as well.
So to sum it up:
If your after a quick turnaround, or tons of efficient meat yield- go the CX route.
If your after a enjoyment, family affair, with more "flavor" meat (or tougher, IMO), then go the DP route.
If you want a carcass comparable to a small turkey- go CX
If you want a carcass with more meat than a quail- go DP
Now, I wouldn't be an American, if I didn't do a little self promoting... Personally, for a family of two-- I feel the Cornish bantam might be the way to go, even for a family of three (eat two of them). My SQ/ BQ Cornish bantams eat very little, have monstrously positive ratios of meat to bone to size, and can self reproduce- giving you the all around good meat bird option.