Continue reading if you would like to learn more about:Without a doubt in my mind, the genetics of these birds are perfect for the sustainable backyard meat bird breeding project. These birds will lay eggs galore, hang a massive carcass and most importantly- consistently reproduce without assistance. These are real chickens, functional birds that are athletic enough to forage for bugs, seeds, and scratch; they are vertical birds capable of roosting as high as they can get (with the guineas), and they are tough birds being able to handle the climatic changes.
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).
The REAL Homegrown Backyard Cornish (pictures available upon request)
The genetics in this lineup of Backyard Cornish are versatile in terms of growth, egg production, and feed efficiency. If fed a proper breeder ration, these birds will be expected to produce 5-6 eggs per week, per hen. If the feed and protein is being fed to maximize growth and muscle potential- then you can expect to reap awesome benefits. But at the same time, these birds are hardy enough to be able to somewhat fend for themselves! One must realize though- that muscle is made up of protein- and so in order to get outstanding muscle, some source of additional protein needs to be fed.
The offspring of our Backyard Cornish will grow considerably faster, and have more shear muscle than any standard dual purpose breed- especially a hatchery sourced one. When butchered and compared side by side- without a doubt- one would instantly water at the mouth! In the winter of 2012, I butchered ~15 of my Cornish cockerels on the same day as I did ~6 Cornish crossed with Dual Purpose cockerels, and my parent’s butchered ~10 ‘Rural King’ Dual Purpose cockerels. Long story short, by the end of the day- even my half Cornish/ half Silkie incubator cockerels- had more meat and less yellow fat- than the Barred/ White Rock, New Hampshire Red, and Rhode island Red’s did! My Cornish, on average- were 3 months younger than the Rural King style were!
The health and vigor of these chickens will excel that of the commercially available white butcher birds, commonly known as CX, Cornish Cross, or Cornish Rock, etc. They will also be leaner, and almost have the breast meat found in those birds. Although, much slower growing than the white birds, the longevity is quite outstanding. It’s not uncommon for one to experience 20-70% mortality rates with those broiler birds (depending on management skills); but to be honest, I would expect 2-5% with our Backyard Cornish. I have never experienced a set of bad legs from these Cornish either! My wife and I purchased 10 CX chicks in the spring of 2013 to actually compare side by side to our Cornish- and lost 3 of the 10- under extensive livestock knowledge background. We’re going to try and keep back a couple of the CX hens to try and breed to our Cornish cocks- just to play around and see what might result.
For those with desires to let the birds reproduce themselves, my females will run approximately 75% going broody each year- can cover a dozen eggs each- and depending on fertility- will typically hatch out 9 or 10 of the dozen. These Cornish females are excellent mothers, and very passionate about brooding. There are times, which nearly half of my females in production will be broody. Most years, once the first hen goes broody in the spring- I’ll shut the incubators down for the year and let them do the work for me. They are reliable at doing this duty!
I market these birds under the name Cornish, but to be frank- it’s not my goal to breed them towards the Standards of Perfection. My first and foremost goal is to have an outstanding meat bird and my customer’s 10 to 1- request the same. As a bonus for you, depending on how my breeding pens are aligned, one could expect a variety of colors to result—and personally- that is really neat to me to check out the development of a new set of chicks and guess what colors will result!
Dark, Blue Laced Red, Black Laced Red, White Laced Red, and White!
Take special note to the massive amounts of muscle these birds have, and pay special attention to the size comparison in the above picture next to a Dark Cornish bantam hen. Also, pay attention to the height of the nesting boxes, and the height of the birds in that same picture compared to the 2”x4” welded wire surrounding their pen.
Our Dark Cornish are the closest variety we have to meeting the SOP in terms of having true ‘Cornish’ type. This primary goal of this color is to help improve upon our other colors in that area. With that being said, these birds are still a touch leggy, and fine boned as compared to true Show Quality Cornish.
In comparison to our other colors, the Dark’s seem to be a touch slower growing, and longer legged; but they remain more Cornish about their bodies, head, and growth pattern. The Dark’s are extremely lean made, muscle bound type of chickens. Their broodiness is also outstanding! The mature cock shown in the upper left photo maxed out weight at 17 pounds!
We try to maintain a breeding quad of this variety!
Blue Laced Red Cornish and Black Laced Red Cornish
The BLR will be a mainstay here genetically into the long future. We just simply think this color pattern is beautiful!
The history of this really new color is interesting—stemming from a Imwalle Brahma project in Ohio with a touch of silver laced Cochin, and white Cornish blood being introduced. Over the course of time, these “Cornishy” looking offspring- were finally mated back to the Lewis Straight bloodlines in the Imwalle show quality white Cornish females. The Blue Laced Red Cornish resulted! Due to its heritage, the recessive true Cornish white gene runs rampant through this color!
In comparison to our other colors, the Blues are simply the most pleasing to the eye, but back to meat bird terminology- they seem to be the lightest framed and longest legged (due to their Brahma background). To counter balance those negative traits, we have selected our very best black laced red and dark females to mate to the Blue Laced Red cocks
The Black Laced Red stems from the Blue Laced Red Project but did not receive a copy of blue in its genes. Our primary goal for this color variety is to produce throwback white offspring, and fill our freezers. We think these black laced red females will be outstanding for many different options. Like ourselves, most people overlook this color as being a touch ‘bland’- however, it’s my belief they truly could be the best ‘backyard meat bird’ we have!
When compared to our other colors- the Black Laced Red is easily the most impressive table bird we produce. Without a doubt, they are the earliest maturing, making them the best combination between muscle and finish of any the young stock we butcher. The Blacks are very ‘typey’ birds as well- have a good head, stout set of legs, and the infamous ‘bulldog compact body’!
Eventually, expect this operation to specialize in these two varieties!
Our whites also have roots from the Blue Laced Red project. Basically, the good show quality White Cornish flock lost its male- and for one season- the best project throwback white cockerel was allowed to breed those good hens. From there, came the start to our White flock. Basically, that puts out White Cornish with about 7/8ths Lewis Straight/ Imwalle Show Quality White Cornish blood.
These birds physically are massive bodied, huge framed, very growth oriented birds that actually physically very closely resemble the CX broiler bird- without the problems and a touch more “Cornish” type. Without a doubt, these are the biggest, heaviest, stoutest boned birds on the place, and we are very excited to be working with this color.
Our whites seem to be the softest feathered of our colors- and that leads me to believe that they’ll be even more winter hardy than the other colors (which survive our 3-sided/ open fronted coops just fine). Astounding to me is the size and mass of the eggs these hens lay. Unfortunately, with that said, the whites are the poorest layers on the place.
In order to expand our White flock, and help improve upon it- we are breeding our very best Dark Cornish females to this white cock. It is our intent to hatch as many whites as we can this year, and allow the public access to these extremely rare- highly sought after genetics. It’s no secret that a solid white predecessor to the modern day butcher broiler would be an added advantage to any backyard flock. In addition, we are growing out 3 CX females to try and mate to the white cock- to hopefully create the ‘ideal’ meat bird!
Be sure to check back and view the progress of these magnificent birds- as we have not been as excited about any other colors thus far. Truly, these are a unique opportunity to hopefully offer the public!
At this time, we are not selling any White Cornish eggs, or birds.
Other Colors of Cornish (White Laced Red Cornish and ‘Project’ White Cornish)
Our original Foundation Cornish were of the White Laced Red color. We do not maintain any WLR males, as this color is dominate white over all other colors of Cornish. We feel that as long as we retain hens, and hatch eggs from them, we will always have this color as an option to buyers.
Our WLR Cornish seem to be the better choice for those wanting more eggs, and only a few butcher birds each year. This lineup of females do trace back to hatchery sourced White Laced Red Cornish, but have since been mated to at least two generations of quality Dark Cornish cocks to get to where we are today. As a result, egg production, consistency of egg size and shape increase; while ‘Cornish’ type decreases. With that being said, one of the most elite bodied Cornish females on the place—is of the WLR color!
Our White Laced Reds- are easily the most agile birds on the place, and make the best broodies usually.
Our ‘project’ White Cornish is mainly the result of mating the above White Laced Red Cornish hens to the known recessive white carrying Blue Laced Red Cornish male. The resulting 3 females are 85-90% white in color, with a touch of red bleed. It’s our belief that these females carry one copy of dominate and one copy of recessive white in them- thus the color they are. They seem to be great layers, and excellent broodies!
We raise these Backyard Cornish birds mainly for the fun of it as a bobby and to help fill our freezers. Obviously with as many breeders and backup birds as we have- fertile hatching eggs are made available nearly year round. We do use an incubator during times of the year, but prefer to rely solely on the natural kind of hatching as much as we can. In addition to our Cornish, we have 4 Silkie and Silkie cross hens for the sole purpose of hatching eggs, and two blue egger Cornish cross females for some color (and for hatching eggs); other than that, no other chicken resides on the place- ensuring that everything hatched is sired by a Cornish.
In addition to the Cornish, we raise crossbred meat rabbits, Heritage Bronze turkeys, a couple colors of guineas (slate and chocolate, plus the common ones), and recently bought a pair of Pekins. The primary focus of our operation is the production of a national competitive set of Oxford sheep, Shorthorn beef cattle, and a dairy cattle operation. As you could see, we are very actively involved with the daily aspects of production agriculture.
We’d be happy to discuss our many aspects of livestock, or farming in general- and of course- we’d be tickled to help you out in the right direction! Inquire comments or questions to my PM.
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.
Cornish x Rock (CX), broiler birds.
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.