Corndells Extinct?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by nepoisopen, Feb 14, 2013.

  1. nepoisopen

    nepoisopen Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2012
    Hello all.
    I'm fairly new to the whole chicken rearing thing, and this site has been a blessing sometimes, and a curse other times, lol.
    A blessing because it's a vast resource of knowledge, a curse because it sends my head spinning to weed through the numerous posts, and it's hard to keep myself focused on what I came for originally!
    When I say I'm new, that's to say I bought my first batch of birds in March 2012, and have been running ever since.
    We have a backyard coop, something somebody on craigslist built for us because I myself work 6 days a week, and while Sundays are a wonderful day to be off, it leaves very little time for the mountain of projects I want to undertake.
    Not to mention I don't make quite the amount I'd care to make to put forward my plans.

    With that in mind, I've been trying to figure out ways to become more and more sustainable, the whole idea from the beginning was to have chickens in the back yard, feed myself one or more chickens a month, and get to the point of where they are able to reproduce themselves.
    At the moment, we have 19 chickens, from Cackle Hatchery, 1 Dark Cornish Rooster, 1 Dark Cornish Hen (supposed to have been a rooster, oops!) 7 Buff Orpingtons, 10 Barred Rocks.

    The idea I had when I started this whole thing (before I learned the obvious errors of my ways!) was to breed my Dark Cornish Rooster to my Barred Rock hens and have a nice meat bird from the offspring.
    Ha ha, naive idiot right here, LoL, I know....

    So far, this approach has sort of worked mainly because for whatever reason, my Buffs (I started with 22 chickens, 10 of each) seem to wanna keep leaving us!
    (One nearly full grown Buff literally got killed when a roving Golden Labrador Retriever "retrieved it", one died about an hour after the other, figuring a heart attack from the stress of seeing the other die? , and this past weekend, I found another Buff dead, not sure why, because she was one of the first to start laying again this year?!)

    Anyways, back to the subject: I realize that a backyard person with little to no real experience isn't going to be able to reinvent the entire broiler production process, and I have no desire to reinvent the wheel, however, it does appear that at some point, a person not much different than me figured out that Cornish Rock X with Delaware makes a suitable enough table bird that doesn't suffer from the infertility or other horrible mutations that are found in the broiler chickens, plus they are technically reproducable without AI requirements, so, I guess you can seee where this is going, right???!!

    Before I decide to take the plunge myself and start breeding my own, I figured I'd ask if anyone else has any, or any suggestions to a sustainable alternative?

    I'm about this <- (if you could see me, you'd see me with my thumb and forefinger about 1/4" apart) close to keeping the birds that I know are laying and haven't stopped all winter and slaughering the rest, and starting over essentially.

    My plan of course would be to get some nice purebred Dark Cornish (even though my big rooster right now is pretty freaking sweet looking, long legs, big breast) culling for weight, some Cornish Rock X, (fed on a slow diet as instructed by Tim Shell) culling again for undesirable traits, and a set of Delawares the same way.
    My theory would be find the best of the best of each of these until I have 12 of each of those, (3 roosters, 4 hens each, just so I don't have all my eggs in one batch!) and then hopefully the offspring would be great eating! (and of course, all the culls up until the point wouldn't be bad either, right?!)

    I guess I posted this topic for 3 reasons: 1. to get some feedback on the feasability (or ridiculousness!) of it, 2. I'm trying to find some more resources on Tim Shell's feeding program, he had 3 different "meal plans" it sounded like, one for breeding, one for broiler, and one for laying. 3. To give others the opportunity to benefit from a central thread on the topic!

    Again, I don't expect to duplicate Tim's work so much as just try to understand a little more exactly what he did, and if I came within 50% of achieving his outcome, I'd be pretty happy.

    I come from a stubborn breed of human who likes to consider all the ridiculous possibilities of something, never content with simply doing it the easy way, I love to learn by failure, and tinker with everything, and with my backyard flock, this is obviously no exception.

    Cheers, thanks for reading the rambly post, and I look forward to some inputs!

    Most of all, maybe someone has some CORNDELL stock they'd just be willing to part with and stop my journey all together!
    (I'm sure my partner in crime would be grateful for the latter!)
  2. LeJeune1

    LeJeune1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2011
    Allen Parish, LA
    Nepoisopen, I'm inclined to think as you are about the Cornish x Delaware crosses being an excellent meat bird for backyarders. I think it is feasible and worth doing for someone who has the time. Please keep this thread posted with your profress, I have 12 SR Dellies that are 4 weeks old now. Once I figure out who is who, I plan to keep the girls for their big brown eggs, and give the meat a go with the boys. I too possess that stubborn trait. . . . . . . Good Luck, Scott
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    It's generally thought that the female sets the body type. Whether your looking to keep two flock that you'd cross now and then for broilers or if you actually attempt to create a line of fuller breasted faster growing birds you'd want to start with Cornish or Cornish X females.

    The rooster could be any of the old broiler industry birds. Delaware, Plymouth Rock, New Hampshire oe even Naked Neck. Cornish make for great meat birds they simply take too long to grow. A small flock of Cornish you perpetuated and a small flock of say Columbian Rocks, I say this because Yardfullofrocks has a great line and they are huge birds, you'd have plenty of culls to eat and could put the Rock rooster over the cornish hens a few times a year for juicey 10-12 week old freezer stock.

    Shell used Delaware but the reasoning may simply have been the availability of a good line of traditional broiler breed. He crossed that over cornish cross line from Hubbard not pure cornish. I'm sure he probably developed a fair fuller breasted bird with conformity in 6 generations but the fact that they can't be found anymore suggest they were not the end all to be all must have broiler strain.

    There's a trend for people to go back to the original broiler breeds and breed them back to utility form. The Buckeye was improved and saved by the American Livestock Breeding Project and in 3 generation made slaughter weight at age 16 weeks instead of 20. Whitmore Farm in Maryland also made great improvements on Deleware slaughter weights in 3 generations of careful selection without loosing egg production. Scot of YardfullOrocks breeds a hundred birds to get 6 breeders in his large line of Columbians each year. Hugh birds.

    Good luck with your venture whichever direction you take it.
    1 person likes this.
  4. nepoisopen

    nepoisopen Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2012
    Egghead, thanks for the informative response!
    I've now modified my plan to this, taking your input into account:
    1. Get some Cornish Rock X Broilers, and some Delawares, and feed them a moderate diet, (especially the Cornish Rocks!) so as to be better suited to evaluate who was the fastest growing out of the batches.
    My plan was to get multiple batches, 1 every 3 months, and keep the biggest, fasted growing females out of the Cornish Rock, and the biggest, fasted growing males out of the Delawares, mate them together, save the biggest breasted females from this...
    2. Get some standard Cornish Game Chickens, and perform the same evaluation, saving the females, and again mate those to the first Delaware, and save the biggest and fasted growing males from this cross, and then mate those males with the biggest breasted, fastest growing females from the first batch.
    NOTES: I was thinking I may try a few different broiler types, Freedom Rangers, Hubbard Cornish X, and the other Cornish X just to see what I like best, (again, I'm new to this!) and maybe I'll learn something!

    I'm fully resigned to this taking a long time, and I fully intend to find other uses for the offspring in the meantime, (I mean how nice would it be to have a full freezer of delicious, albeit potentially just under par meat that was grown in the backyard? plus my 2 cats and dog, as well as extended family could easily find use for the meat!) furthermore, I'm sure even a chicken that's not absolutely perfect is still going to taste better when I grew it vs. purchased it from a store...

    I figure maybe if I find 25 females total and 3 males total, I'm doing well, but again, I'm not in a hurry.

    I also think (since I'm literally a backyard farmer) of using simple tractor pens, moving them each day, as well as using only fermented feeds, again, focusing on the birds that could be raised for the CHEAPEST investment, but still be sustainable.
    To me, CHEAPEST doesn't include having to re-order every 3 months, for a lifetime, even if it is technically "cost effective".
    It would be wonderful to hatch out my own eggs, knowing they would be exactly what I needed, as well as (maybe!) having a product others would desire...
    (but not the only focus!)

    My other thoughts on maximizing my investment is by using this site to source high quality birds while at the same time, preserving the diversity of my flock.

    I don't really know how important it would be to do that, as all this information is confusing, but I figure adding some new blood to the line is probably important, right?

    If anyone has input on the best way to add new blood without sacrificing quality genetics gained from basic line breeding, please, by all means, say something, I seriously am open to ideas, and if you wanna post here just to poke holes in what I propose, I welcome it, it's only by listening to others that we learn, right?

    I mean Egghead already lead me in a better direction, and I'm grateful for that!

    (my original plan was mate Cornish Rock X Males to Delaware Females and save the males, then Cornish Males to Delaware females, saving the females, and crossing)

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2013
  5. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA

    So are you saying the Corndels are no where to be found now? I *just* learned of them here on BYC, looking for an alternative to the CX. Whatever happend to that breed?

  6. nepoisopen

    nepoisopen Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2012
    It's really funny you replied to this so recently, since I hadn't checked in in a bit, and literally Yesterday I picked up 2 pairs of Pure Bred Traditional Cornish from someone on here with the intent to cross them to my Delawares, and these 2 pairs are exactly what I was looking for, big meaty birds in a great package, exactly what the Cornish is good for, and I didn't have to wait the 5 - 12 generations to get them.
    In response to your specific question about their availability, I came up short with every single source I found, every one of the people I called on the list who gave me other peoples numbers who may have had them said they hadn't had them for 3 + years, and the reasoning given was the customers they had wanted bigger birds, clearly, IMO, they didn't find the right people.
    That stated, because of this, I'm working on my own "batch" of them, since no one else has them.
    If you read about the Tatanka Quail, I'm considering trying to get something like that going, where we harness the power of multiple hatches among a crew of people to breed out a better hybridized bird overall, without having the burden to be on one party.
    Let me know if you're interested, otherwise, if you're just looking for a good big backyard meat bird, I'd say BigMedicine's auction is a good place to start, as I probably won't be up and running until Summer of next year.
    Here's BigMedicine's Auction that I mentioned, hopefully it'll post right.

    So posting back my results, I received some Delawares from Sandhill Preservation Society on May 22, 2013, and took the best looking male along with all the females.
    Thus far, I haven't had luck getting them to lay yet, but I'm hoping it's the weird timing and weird weather in general we've had here, and hope to have some progress to report in early 2014.
    As of yesterday, December 1, 2013, I picked up 2 pairs of Cornish from a member on here, one giant White Cornish Cockerel, and 1 giant Blue Laced Red Cornish Cockerel, paired with one monstrous Blue Laced Pullet and a monstrous Dark Hen.
    I'm really looking forward to seeing the results of these pairs and scoring some others in the spring to get a nice crossing going, my theory is to get a batch of nice rocks (Columbian Plymouth, and Blue Laced Barred) along with another batch of Delawares from the Whitmore Farm or some other member on here (hint hint!) to keep the Delawares going too, my theory is if we cross the Cornish to the Rock and then to Delawares, we'd get a good line going.
    My whole intent is to stay small, maintaining 6 birds max of each type, and just hatch out once every 2 months and hopefully get somewhere.
    Again, I had an idea to start a group swap thing focusing on developments of specific traits and exchanging eggs so we could all benefit without having to have a huge operation in one place, though I haven't solidified that, but I am stubborn, and working to do it, just like the original corn dels...
    If anyone wants to help, let me know.
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
  7. GreenSahara

    GreenSahara Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 8, 2013
    Tim Shell, the developer of the breed, moved to China back in 2004. I expect nobody has kept his line of Corndels.

    In 2003, Tim Shell announced that he was breeding an improved
    broiler that would be better suited to pasture. By crossing Delawares to commercial Cornish-cross chickens, he hoped to develop a breed
    that would grow a bit slower than the latter, but suffer less from heart and leg problems. This he called the Corndel. He was also breeding within a
    flock of pasture-raised Cornish Cross to develop an improved meat bird
    called the Pastured Peeper. In 2004, Tim and his family moved to China, and his flock was dis-
    persed to three other farms: Tom Delahanty in New Mexico, Julie and
    Vince Maro in Wisconsin, and Ken Gies in New York. I was unable to
    contact Delehanty or Gies, but Julie Maro kindly brought me up to date
    on her situation.
    “We no longer raise the Corndel,” she said, citing the difficulties in
    maintaining a flock of breeder chickens within the context of an organic
    farm. She said that the chickens showed a great deal of variation, and for
    that reason were not ready to be used as a multiplier flock. She had raised
    Freedom Rangers and was favorably im-
    pressed with their size, compared to the Corndel. All in all, she found the
    Corndel experiment very interesting, but time-consuming.
    It appears that further development of the Corndel breed is going to be
    a long time coming. People looking for chicks available now may want to
    consider the Freedom Ranger.

    Edited by Staff
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  8. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2013
    Cleveland OH
    Nepoisopen... When you mention a project like that it gets me interested. I would love to participate thoroughly but I can't have a roo. But I could hatch fertile eggs and raise them out and send you the biggest, nicest looking ones of the batch back to you. This could be really interesting for everyone... Basically what I'm saying is you could work something out where there's dozens of people growing out your hatching eggs, sending you back the best of the stock... They get free meat bird hatching eggs, you turn your hatching eggs into the best of the best without feeding out the rest of the "culls". Just a thought. ;3 I would gladly participate in that!
    1 person likes this.
  9. nepoisopen

    nepoisopen Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 24, 2012
    What you speak of is exactly what I was hoping for, harnessing the power of a lot of smaller time producers to help with the limitations of being small time!
    (the big guys only have the numbers against us, but we can have FUN in the meantime, and MAYBE get somewhere??!!)

    I also tracked down Tim Shell's (the creator of the original Corn-Dells) feeding chart, sent to me by someone who was participating in his original program, and I am just overjoyed to have received it tonight, ha ha, like a Christmas Gift!

    I'll link it here and in the original post, if I can edit it.

    ^^ That set of recipes is incomplete, but it's what we have to go with, lol.
    I'm going to breed with this feed program, and hatch out accordingly, since I'm small time, I'm going to be forced to keep it small, but this shouldn't be a limitation, it's a strength, IMO.


    I'll be updating more as we go along, I've still got to track down the hubbard male part of my stock, (if we decide to go straight from what Tim did), but I may actually mod it just a tad by using some of these meat cornish I got from Kfacres which is from BigMedicine's stock, we'll see!

    I'll try to keep this updated as I can, and yes, that's exactly what I was thinking, was sending out a dozen eggs every x time to a group of people with that exact mindset of sending back the best we get, etc, so you're right on point!

    Now, I've got to work in the morning at the real job, so good night!
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2013
  10. ChocolateMouse

    ChocolateMouse Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2013
    Cleveland OH
    Well I got a brand new Brinsea Mini Advance for Christmas so when you get your eggs let me know! I am not sure how much it costs to ship a bird back to you but it could actually work quite well if you have enough eggs... Especially if you were to provide and reuse the shipping boxes! Send one out with each batch of eggs, it comes back filled with a bird and can be sent out again with the next set.
    1 person likes this.

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