A Dark Cornish Story

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by sosanista, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. sosanista

    sosanista Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2008
    Nicasio
    Hello fellow backyard chicken farmers. My wife and two kids just moved into a new house on an established ranch in Nicasio, CA. We have a little yard, maybe a 1/4 fenced acre and we're backed up to two parks, a state and a national one. I just started a batch of 30 Dark Cornish chicks ordered from Welp Hatchery. 20 Males for meat and 10 females I plan on keeping for eggs and brooders. Hopefully I'll be adding more to the flock as we go through the meat. I'm starting this thread to document the process of the first round and to have a place to get advice. This is my second time raising a flock for meat. Two years ago I did a round of the Cornish x rock. Loved the meat but hated the experience and have decided to leave that breed up to the commercial farmers. I've decided this go round to go with the Dark Cornish because of their reputation for being hearty in the face of predators. I'm going to coop them up at night and let them roam the ranch and wherever else they end up going during the day. We still have yet to build a coop for them but I figure I have a couple of weeks to accomplish that. Right now they are in a wooden wine crate until they're old enough to be away from the heat lamp. I'll post pics as this adventure proceeds. Today the chicks are 6 days old.
     
  2. EricH

    EricH Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 25, 2010
    Valley Springs, ca
    good luck! i have 5 dark cornish and theyre about as active as anything ive seen. built in camo too! i stopped trying to catch them long ago...
     
  3. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    First, WELCOME!
    Second, can't wait to watch and hear about your progress! Please include pics!!!
     
  4. sosanista

    sosanista Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2008
    Nicasio
    Here are some photos of the day of arrival, which puts these birds at 3 days old in these photos:

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  5. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2010
  6. sosanista

    sosanista Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2008
    Nicasio
    Here they are at almost six days old growing fast and eating a lot:

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  7. HaikuHeritageFarm

    HaikuHeritageFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 7, 2010
    Anchorage, AK
    Hehe, due to a mix-up in a shared order, I ended up with one dark cornish in my small batch of spangled Orloffs from Welp. I loved that bird! It was so nice to hold and by far the most curious and active out of the batch of 5.

    We traded and I got my 5th Orloff to replace the Cornish this past weekend. Kind of miss the little guy. It has me thinking I might like to have three or so around just for crossing with my various other birds. I LOVED the way that bird was developing.

    Look forward to following this thread!
     
  8. ijon1

    ijon1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 26, 2009
    gaines, michigan
    I found that my big black cornish is a hen. All the time since it was a chick I thought it was a rooster.
     
  9. sosanista

    sosanista Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2008
    Nicasio
    Quote:Uh oh. I hope I can tell mine apart. This batch consists of 10 pullets I plan on keeping on for eggs and brooders and the rest are cockerels for meat. They shipped divided but I assumed by slaughtering time I'd be able to tell who's who. Let's hope so.
     
  10. sosanista

    sosanista Out Of The Brooder

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    Aug 14, 2008
    Nicasio
    Finally updating this story in case anybody finds it interesting, if not for my own meager documental purposes. My flock of hatchery bought dark cornish meat birds are 8 weeks old today. As you can see I haven't kept up the log here as I intended to but here's a summary of what's been happening. All the birds are happy except the one that got swooped up by a hawk or an early evening owl a few weeks ago. This has been a very very interesting journey. If you look at my profile and see "all posts" you will see just some of the issues I've been facing as I get to know, and love, these amazing birds. I don't say the word love lightly either. As a kid we kept a flock of mixed chickens, mostly reds for eggs. My grandpa raised fighting cocks that were beautiful and over the years I've seen quite a few birds. The Dark Cornish are living up to their reputation. They are fierce foragers practically fighting me to get out the door in the morning. Every day as they mature they are getting more and more territory covered and they have as much land at their disposal they could possibly want.
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    They are pretty much living up to their rep as far as being good against predators. One gives the signal of oncoming danger and they either freeze or fly or run back to the coop. Right now I'm experimenting with different feeds. I, for a plethora of reasons that are hashed out by others here on other posts, am getting my birds off of soy. Coming up with certain organic ingredients, even in crunchy West Marin County has been a challenge. All of the local feedstores stare at me blank eyed when I tell them this. I have also been looking at the long term viability of raising these birds for meat and have been curious about the lore of the sought after dark cornish traits which led me to seek the knowledge of some professionals in the field so I went to my first poultry show in bakersfield where there was only one guy with Cornish. He had whites, dark cornish bantams and one standard dark hen. As a matter of fact his grandfather invented the white cornish. Here he is holding one of his champion birds:
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    I was awe struck at the difference between the American Standard version of the Dark Cornish and my Hatchery stock. Here's one of his show quality Dark Cornish hens:
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    While I'm not convinced american standard birds are appropriate for my freeranging operation I am convinced that the hatchery stock could be improved by working with some of these show birds. These show birds are like pit bulls. My hatchery stock do not have the wide stance and thick legs though some have thicker legs than others. We'll see as they grow out. These pics are from a couple of weeks ago.
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    So that's where we're at. 4-8 weeks away from processing. I'll post some pics soon that will show how they've come along the two above don't do it justice. I am most certainly interested in being in touch with other Cornish enthusiasts.
     
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