Cornish Game Hens for 4-H

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by Minniechickmama, May 12, 2010.

  1. Minniechickmama

    Minniechickmama Senora Pollo Loco

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    Has anyone ever raised Cornish Game Hens for showing as a 4-H Meat bird project? I am wondering about this, but I am afraid to get them for my kids so they can end up with a white ribbon from a judge who thinks the only good meat bird is a CRX freak bird. Has anyone seen this in 4-H shows? How about Freedom Rangers or other colored meat crosses? I like doing things a bit differently then everyone else, and I have a reputation because of it. I am not a snob, I just like to see variety. I would think that a good judge would evaluate the bird on the merits of the intentions that the bird was raised for be it a roaster, fryer or single serving of CGH. We occasionally eat the Cornish Game Hens and they are nice for if you are single/live alone, or for a couple to have a nice chicken dinner.
    Anyway, if anyone has any thoughts on this, please share.
    Thanks.
     
  2. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    The only thing I'll have to add is that a "Cornish Game Hen" like you buy at the store for single serving meals... is just a 4 week old cornish x they took early. They are girls and boys.... just taken to slaughter earlier than the table sized bird.
     
  3. Minniechickmama

    Minniechickmama Senora Pollo Loco

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    I did look into that. I am just trying to decided if I want to chance sending my kids to the county fair with some of them. If we had a judge who looked at the bird based on the intentions of it being a "single serving" bird rather than judging them on the "bigger is better" premise, I would do it, but since my chances around here a the latter, I not jumping at the idea too quickly. I knew they were the same birds, it was just a thought to shake things up a little and see. I want my kids to do well though, and that is a chancy thing to do. If we take Freedom Rangers it will probably be the same way. I want to work on some of my own crosses to come up with suitable birds for butchering ourselve. I know they will take longer, but I really hate those freaky CRXs.
    Thanks for the input though.
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I've never shown, but I was under the impression that for 4-H, it is not just size that matters. They look for uniformity of the bodies at the "market weight" and the cleanliness of the birds. So rather than taking your 9lb, 8.5lb, and 10 lb beast who is not looking too healthy because of size, a group of 7lb birds that are all the same size, gender, and conformation would win. I think if they are shown alive, the showmanship and how the shower handles the birds also plays a role. Best let someone with meat bird show experience chime in though.
     
  5. Minniechickmama

    Minniechickmama Senora Pollo Loco

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    Thanks for your thought. I agree with all you said. The family that won last year had birds 3 -pounds less than most of the rest, but they had the qualities you mentioned. I like to try some of these things that not everyone does or hasn't seen in a while, it doesn't always fly in this area. I look it as a way to introduce something that others just haven't noticed or caught onto yet. For instance, having heritage breeds that people may not be aware that have been around for a few hundred years instead of the hybrids or old stand-bys.
     
  6. ChIck3n

    ChIck3n Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Huh? You must do it different up there than down here. For 4-H shows in Texas, everyone gets their broilers at the exact same time from the same place (Usually Texas A&M, and is distributed by the counties). Do you get to choose where you get your birds from? Also, down here it is usually breast size that the birds are judged on. They are, after all, meat birds. Their only purpose is to grow as fat and large as possible, so that's how they are judged here. Plus it depends on the judge. Try to find out who the judge will be and how he judges (eg. uniformity vs size). There is a lot of variation in judges, so knowing this could have a big impact on your placing.

    Showmanship and cleanliness are only judged in the showmanship class, as usually the birds here are shown in trios and you just get friends to hold some of your birds.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  7. rodriguezpoultry

    rodriguezpoultry Langshan Lover

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    Yes, when judging broilers I judge on uniformity of weight (I allow the superintendent to write down the weights), then I judge the breasts on each, the cleanliness isn't that important to me, but I'd prefer touching a clean bird instead of one weighted down with poop.

    All birds must have a nice uniform breast in the pen, no crooked keels.
     
  8. Sonoran Silkies

    Sonoran Silkies Flock Mistress

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  9. Minniechickmama

    Minniechickmama Senora Pollo Loco

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    ChIck3n- In Minnesota, you may purchase from whomever or hatch you own or whatever for showing here. The class is "Market pen" there is no specification of how old the birds must be or what kind or anything like that.
    From the links that Sonoran provided, the birds are judged according to muscle development and uniformity. So, if one were to take some well-muscled Game Hens that satisfied the mass and development along with the structural integrity, then it should do well. If the class were labeled "Broilers" Or "Roasters", then it would be clearer, but since all it is labeled is "Market pen" that should include any market type bird regardless of age or weight of it.
    My kids don't want to chance it, so they are opting to take the CRX freaks like we grew last year. They taste great, but I am looking for a more naturally occuring bird, if you will. I do enjoy an occaisional Cornish Game Hen, but now that my family is big enough, the larger birds are more the answer for us. I just don't think they should be discounted as bird that should be able to sit on the judging table and judged for it value as a game hen (and I do know they aren't all female, heck, they aren't even hens, they would be pullets [​IMG] )
    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I think this is an interesting thing to consider. Perhaps I need to talk to the Poultry PDC in our county and the state as well if needed.
     
  10. wyliefarms

    wyliefarms Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2008
    Fowlerville,MI
    Our county in Michigan has a 3 pound minumum weight and a 10 pound maximum weight. After weigh in the birds are divided into 2 weight groups (fryers and roasters). Champions are chosen from each one. Judges look for uniformity in breast, weight, body type, and the birds and cage must be clean for show. Last years judge actually had the kids take one of the meat birds out and handle it. If they didn't know how to handle the bird they got marked down. Really showed who raised the birds themselves as opposed to the parents doing it. The judge asks the kids questions to about feed and care that goes into consideration on close birds. As this is 4-H and having the "best animal" isn't always the winner if you don't know anything about it.

    We get to purchase from any hatchery we want to with a maximum age of the birds being 12 weeks.

    Most kids raise Cornish X or Hubbard birds, if I recall what was on the cages last year. (they look the same to me)

    I have seen folks who raise colored rangers (I believe) They are a meat bird, but slower growing.

    Good Luck!
     

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