Cornish

Posted

Pros: Good mothers, free range well, friendly nature

Cons: Not the best egg layers

I have 2 Dark Cornish hens in my free range flock and they are easily my favorite.  Both are friendly towards humans.   The main downside, as i see it, is that they go broody a lot.  By a lot i mean my girls hatch babies out 2-3 times per year in all sorts of weather.  For that reason i think it's a good idea to have a couple dark cornish hens if most of your flock consists of non broody breeds.    That being said, if your only goal is egg production, having a flock of nothing but dark cornish would probably be a disaster.  Their mediocre egg production combined with a high frequency of broodiness, would make them less than ideal for that purpose.

Posted

Pros: Excellent forager, excellent mothers, calm, docile, quiet

Cons: eggs are only medium sized, and production is so-so

Dark Cornish have been a great addition to our backyard flock. All of them eagerly rustle their own food, foraging widely through brush and field, spending little time at the feeder. Birds are broad backed, with their sturdy legs widely spaced. Comb and wattle development is minimal, which may cost it some ability to dissipate heat in the summer, but by the same token, will reduce heat losses and vulnerability to frost bite in winter.  The overall appearance of these birds, especially the males, is more of a wild-type bird, with a bold eye, strong brows, tight-fitting, glossy feathers, and a more stout beak than most domestic fowl. Despite this rather tough looking face, these birds are docile, quiet, and accept human handling fairly well. The tight feathering makes the bird look smaller than it is...mine weigh as much or more than the Rocks and RIR's in the same flock, but at first glance, they look more compact. They seem to be more intelligent than the average chicken, learning a new routine or accepting training well.

 

Crossing this bird with the Plymouth Rock breeds produces a fast-growing meat bird that is excellent table fare. This cross is the same one used in the broiler industry, but don't expect your home crosses to grow as fast as commercially produced cornish rocks---those are produced by breeding companies investing fortunes selecting sire and dam lines and producing their final cross. We have our Dark Cornish running with White Rocks and Welsummers and some crossbred hens, and we are getting some VERY robust chicks this year!

 

Hens came into lay around 20 weeks, comparable to other heavy breeds. Egg production is acceptable, with hens laying a medium sized, firm-shelled brown egg.  Hens eagerly go broody, successfully setting even large clutches of eggs and raising chicks very well. Egg production levels are not going to compare to traditional brown egg layers such as the Rhode Island Red or Plymouth Rocks, but when you add in the contribution this bird can make toward meat bird genetics, plus the chicks the hens will raise for you, they are definitely a worthy addition to the flock.

 

Note: I edited the original breed description that was listed. It stated that the birds were vulnerable to cold, are poor layers, and that the tight feathers make it hard for a hen to cover many eggs. These statements are simply not born out by the realities of raising this breed. I have seen no sign they are having more trouble with the cold than other birds...to the contrary, in fact. Egg production is moderate, not poor, with production maybe 140-180 eggs per year (a Maran or Rock will give you 200+, a leghorn 250+). When you consider that a chunk of that year was spent setting and brooding rather than laying, this production is not so bad. And my hens have hatched 10 of 11 eggs, 8 of 10 eggs, 7 of 8 eggs, and 3 of 10 eggs this year (that last one, hatch rate was low because I put a thin-shelled egg from an older bird in the nest, it broke, and yolks covered most of the eggs).  Keep in mind that these eggs are hand-selected to be the larger eggs (selecting for egg size), so these hens are successfully setting 10-12 large -xl eggs. This is as good a hatch rate as any hens we have had, and these hens are absolutey dedicated mothers.

 

Overall ths is an excellent breed. I will always keep their genetics in my flocks!

Posted

Pros: Extreme foragers under the worst conditions, great setters, awesome layers, and meaty birds. Sweet natured and eye catching too.

Cons: May become serial brooders.

The Dark Cornish I have we received from McMurray Hatchery.  They will forage for most of their food often going around our buildings eating every single bug they see.  One of our girls has been known to follow us into our 30x40 shed and has did an awesome job removing spiders and other bugs.  In the past when the box elder bugs and Asian beetles got really bad in the fall they would set off our security alarms.  Now with the Dark Cornish on the job we have very few bugs around.  I rarely see them eating from the feeders which makes them cheap to feed.  Ours seem to do just fine with the cold weather and are seen running around the yard with all the other chickens during the worst of the winter.  One of our broodies hatched out 16 eggs during the winter.  They are protective attentive mothers.  I would also debate their egg laying abilities as mine have been exceptional layers.  They started in June of this year and have laid each at least 5 eggs a week through the winter.  One has begun to molt in Jan, 2 are broody, and and the other 4 are still laying just fine.  I've read differing opinions, but the strain I received were the exception.  I will be getting 50 straight run this spring with the plan to keep the productive hens and put most of the boys in the freezer.  Although they are generally kept for show we will keep them as they are a positive addition to our egg laying group and they attack so much attention due to their lovely appearance.  They are amazing birds in my opinion.

Posted

Pros: Beautiful, friendly, easily tamed, but have a feisty personality, make great mothers

Cons: They go broody often, and its hell trying to get them off the nest, even if its empty.

We initially had two, Henrietta and Harriet, unfortunately Henrietta was a bit of a wonderer and got hit by a car sad.png It was a real blow as they made a lovely pair. Would recommend to anyone who allows their birds to free range - these are tough birds, they are more likely to attack a predator than run from it (especially if they have chicks or eggs to think about). They are great protectors for any flock as their alarm call is LOUD and they always seem to be on the watch, even the hens. having never had males I can't say for sure, but I suspect they would be fiercely protective of their hens.

Handling early is a must as I can see how their wary nature could make them aggressive to humans if not shown that they are no threat.

Posted

Pros: Friendly, Beautiful, Smart, Adventurous, Funny to watch

Cons: Bare chest can be an issue in cold climates

I have 2 Dark Cornish birds in my flock, a hen and a rooster. While the hen is a little less friendly, the rooster is quite friendly and outgoing. He is always the first to come investigate when I go feed them in the morning and he is easily the easiest to catch.
He is a handsome fellow who is neither at the top nor bottom of the pecking order (same with the hen).

Mr Rex currently has some bumbles which I am treating and takes it like a champion. He falls asleep in the foot baths I provide for him, and sits nicely while I put ointment on his feet and then bandage them.

My only issue with this breed is that they have a bare chest and the skin can become dry and chaffed in a cold Manitoba winter. I rub a natural cream onto his chest to prevent this.
My original plans were to eat him when he came of age, however after quickly becoming a favorite with my family, he has successfully secured his position as a future breeding rooster for our farm :)

I would recommend this breed to any person starting a flock as they are easy to handle and are great fun to watch and be around

Mr Rex having a foot bath


^ My Dark Cornish hen Priscilla

Posted

Pros: Great DP Meatie for a Hatchery bird

Cons: CRAZY if untamed, can be aggressive

If you're looking for a dual-purpose meat bird that will have a respectable carcass by the time they hit 15 weeks, go for the Cornish. I got 7 Dark Cornish cockerels from MMH in April, and have butchered two so far. The first weighed 5lbs. 12oz. before butchering and 4lbs. 3oz. after dressing. The second was a few ounces bigger before butchering, but I forgot to weigh him after dressing. Aside from some "rooster" flavor my family mentioned tasting (I can't comment on it since until these two boys, I hadn't eaten any fowl for 5 years, and I didn't notice it), they were great. Certainly better than Cornish Cross... our lovely local bear killed them all, while every single DC escaped unscathed... I'd go Cornish over CX any day.

Posted

Pros: Excellent Meat Bird, mothers, and free range

Cons: None

They are great heritage Breed meat chickens. We have crossed them with our Light Brahmas and Jersey Giants. They are huge! These are really sharp looking, tight clean birds. Able to take care of themselves and any chicks. Worth every penny on your farm!thumbsup.gif

 

Posted

Pros: Great Freerangers, Docile but Gamey enough go after 5ft Sandhill Cranes in the yard

Cons: Not great Flyers due to thier weight.

As of right now my DCs are only 14 weeks old but the cocks are already close to 5lbs.  They seem to be as smart as my OEGs although a little more docile.  I ordered a batch of around 30 from McMurry and have been very pleased with how they are turning out.   The thing that surprised me the most is how gorgeous they are.  In photos they look pretty dull but they are truely beautiful birds.  Especially the cockerels.  They have this brilliant blue/purple/green iridescence to their feathers.  I plan on keeping a rooster and 3-5 hens for breeding next spring.  I'll be updating this review as the birds continue to grow with the rest of my flock.

Posted

Pros: Friendly, beautiful birds

Cons: Leg problems

I got two Dark Cornish from my McMurray order this spring.  One of them turned out being a runt with bad legs.  She was so sickly and weak I did not think she'd make it.  She did however live and turned out to be an extremely friendly, sweet, goofy, funny pullet.  She still had bad legs though and an overly HUGE chest that made her tip forward.  She was unable to fly or roost properly and we had to make sure a special roosting box to sleep in at night.  She was very unwieldy and clumsy and acted mentally "slow" or "off."  At 4 months old I found her dead in the morning with a broken neck.  It appeared she flew headlong into a wall. 

 

The other Dark Cornish was not very friendly until she came into maturity at 5 months (20 weeks) and started laying. The first 5 months of her life, I could barely get near her.  Now she's my best little buddy!  She sits in my lap, and even flies up onto my shoulder when I walk into their run.  She is extremely busy and is constantly digging and rooting for morsels, although she is confined to the large run and chicken house.  I can't free range because of hawks.

 

I had read that Dark Cornish are not good for a mixed flock because they are so slow moving, but that's not been the case for my hatchery bird.  Perhaps if one gets more extreme show type genetics from a private breeder that would be the case.  Personally, I prefer my hatchery quality DC because she DOESN'T have that extremely squatty appearance and legs so wide she can hardly walk.  I don't believe I would want a chicken that can't breed naturally or get around because they are so short and fat.

 

My DC hen so far is the first and only of my pullets to be laying.  She has laid an egg a day for 3 days in a row, and none of my other pullets have done anything yet.  I have read that Dark Cornish are very poor to non-layers, but again I think hatcheries select for egg laying traits and not show traits.  If you want that extreme stance of the super short, squatty bird that waddles around, I don't think you'll get that from McMurray.  My hen is very fast, agile, and "gamey" but is extremely friendly, docile, and sweet!

 

My only regret is that I didn't get a few more of this breed with my order!

 

 

 

 

Cornish
Description:

The Cornish originates from Cornwall, England, where they were also known as Indian Game. Several colors are recognized, including White Cornish (produced in 1890), White laced red, Buff, and Dark. This breed is best known for its use as the foundation parent stock in the broiler indstry, where the Cornish is crossed with the White Rock to produce fast-growing, massively-muscled fowl that reach slaughter weight at 8-10 weeks. Purebred roosters can reach 15 lbs. and a hen 8 lbs. Egg production is moderate to good, with hens laying a firm-shelled, medium sized egg. Cornish chickens are known as a "hard-feathered" breed, with their tight feathers giving the mistaken impression of a smaller size than the reality. Birds are well muscled, with broad backs and breast and a notably wide stance. These are active and energetic foragers. Hens are good mothers and readily go broody.

Details:
DetailValue
Breed PurposeMeat Bird
CombPea
BroodinessAverage
Climate ToleranceAll Climates
Egg ProductivityMedium
Egg SizeMedium
Egg ColorBrown
Breed TemperamentFriendly,Calm,Bears confinement well,Quiet
Breed Colors/VarietiesDark, Jubilee, Blue-laced and White Red laced
Breed SizeLarge Fowl
APA/ABA Class
Models:
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC

Chicken Breed Info:

Breed Purpose: Meat Bird/game bird
Comb: Pea
Broodiness: Average
Climate Tolerance: All Climates

General Egg Info:

Egg Productivity: Medium
Egg Size: Medium
Egg Color: Brown

Breed Temperament:

Friendly,Calm,Bears confinement well,Quiet

Breed Colors / Varieties:

White, Dark, and White Laced Red

Breed Details:

They are quiet and calm, they can also be easily approached. They are ideal for frying and are broilers. They don't eat anymore than your avg LF bird.

LL

Rooster
LL
Hen
LL
Egg
LL
Chick
LL
Adolescent
LL