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 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!


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.


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.


Pros: Friendly, calm, hardy, good layer, non aggressive

Cons: Can't think of one

I started with two Dark Cornish chicks in the spring. Both did well, even though I was totally new with having chicks. One was named Buddy, since she was so friendly, and the other was simply referred to as "the wobbley chick" since she was in such rough shape when they arrived in the mail. They were both sweet. Unfortunately Buddy, who liked to sit on my shoulder any time I entered the coop, meet her end due to a predator. Wobbley has stepped into her place, being almost as sweet as Buddy. I will be getting  a few more Dark Cornish this coming spring. Cornish is one of the less aggressive of all my 20 chickens.


Pros: Pretty bird, beautiful metallic sheen to feathers of the Dark Cornish Rooster.

Cons: Extremely aggressive roosters, to both people and the chickens at the lower end of the pecking order

I have two dark Cornish roosters that I'm selling along with some white Plymouth Rock hens. They are either going to be rehomed OR MEET THEIR MAKER!!! In the 15 years that I have owned chickens with a multitude of breeds, I HAVE NEVER HAD ROOSTERS THIS AGGRESSIVE!!! Perhaps the hens are docile and make great mothers...but I have nothing good to say about the roosters. And in reading the other reviews, I'm definitely not alone in this! They are indeed pretty with that metallic sheen on their feathers, but my compliments end there. If you are going to keep this breed, keep hens! And if you must, keep only one rooster and handle him constantly in the hopes of preventing the daily attacks that I've sustained over here.


Pros: Body mass is amazing

Cons: slower to grow. lower egg count.

This has to be a favorite of the heritage birds for me. Beautiful, compact and so calm. Good seasonal layers. The roosters are amazing. Calm, dedicated and a really great table bird too. They do take time to mature.. but good things are worth a wait.

This is not a high end egg producer.. be aware, more of an experienced keeper for the breed. Adults are very flock oriented and very difficult to introduce new birds.


Pros: They protect their territory

Cons: They attack me every other week

I was looking for a meat outcross for my EE hens, so I bought 25 Dark Cornish roosters.  I raised them together and culled them down (sent to freezer camp) all but 5, then introduced them to my hens.  Yes, I've gotten fertile eggs, but I have to carry a net with me every time I feed the flock, and net whichever of the roosters I have kept because they will crouch and jump at my face.  When they started being this aggressive I smacked at them with a horse whip, but that turned out to be a challenge.  When it's time to clean the coop I net them and put them in a dog crate to keep them from attacking me!  I have experienced aggressive roosters before, RIR are also aggressive and will attack their feeder, but I read after the fact that these are "game birds" which means that they were bred for both meat and fighting.

I won't be keeping them after the next incubation and I won't purchase them in the future.  I might try the hens.


Pros: Good meat bird,sometimes broody,beautiful birds,good foragers

Cons: not the best layers depending on you birds you can expect 80-160 eggs.Does not have many feather so not recommended for cooler climates.

 Great alternative to the cornish cross but takes some more time to mature.My hens are very nice and gentil.


Pros: Lays large eggs

Cons: Not exactly pretty

Our Turkey was a great hen. She laid eggs up to her death from old age. She was big, easily our heaviest hen, but she was, in my opinion, a sweet bird.


This is our Cornish, Turkey. She has an impacted crop.


Pros: Good broodies, great foragers, very meaty, strong-shelled eggs, docile, less apt to hide eggs when free-ranged

Cons: Slow-moving, fall toward bottom of the pecking order, regular but not great layers

These hens were very hardy and excellent foragers. Not flighty as some breeds, but cautious, and likely to be below other breeds in the flock pecking order. The eggs are medium, brown, with very strong shells, laid regularly but not as well as some laying breeds. They are slow to mature, but get very meaty, and the cockerels made excellent roasters, as would be expected. They did not seem as alert to predators as some people have said, but it is hard to keep chickens free-range in my situation. They didn't seem to hide eggs as my Kraienkoppes did so admirably. Overall very nice birds for a dual purpose flock that is not so worried about high efficiency, but concerned about being more self-sufficient in terms of feeding and hatching their own replacements.

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.

Breed PurposeMeat Bird
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
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.