Dark Cornish Questions

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by lauralou, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am thinking of getting some Dark Cornish chickens, which I would like to breed for a sustainable meat bird flock. I know that they will not provide as much meat as quickly as the CornishX will, and I'm okay with that.

    Since I want to breed them, I'm curious about their egglaying abilities. So, I am wondering, where did you get yours, and how many eggs do they lay for you? Are they at all broody or would I need to incubate?

    Any info on their personality and behavior would be helpful, too.

    I'd also be curious about Buff Cornish and White Laced Red Cornish, if anyone has any. Of course, pictures are always welcome!

    Thanks in advance. [​IMG]
     
  2. ksacres

    ksacres At Your Service

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    I had Dark Cornish from McMurray Hatchery. They are beautiful birds and mine were really calm, but let me tell you, mine were terrible layers and they grow VERY slowly. It takes a long time for them to mature out, but they do get very big and they are a lot heavier than they look.

    If you were to use them in a cross breeding program, you would want to use the roosters over a better laying breed, like rocks or rir.
     
  3. keeperofthehearth

    keeperofthehearth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hi Lauralou,
    Can't help you much here since I only have experience with one Dark Cornish which we picked up at a Swap meet. The nature center she belonged to were "sizing down". My DH wanted her because he thought she was "pretty". [​IMG] Tegan is a bit hyper but not unduly so. She layes beautiful rosebrown eggs but goes broody as soon as she layes a clutch (approx. 8-12 eggs) which means shes broody 3 or 4 times a year. [​IMG] Which could be a mixed blessing depending on whether you WANT a broody or not. I have a pic or two I can post as soon as I get them over to photobucket. I'll try to do that tonight. My DH is always saying how "tasty" she looks. [​IMG] and we are thinking of breeding her with our big EE to see what the resulting peeps would be like.
     
  4. BaronRenfrew

    BaronRenfrew Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have kept dark cornish for years and do not have any now, but I can add a few things you want to know.

    First I sourced mine form a local bird auction and bird keepers and found them to be better than those I got from McMurray Hatchery. I don't want to knock McMurray but they have to breed birds in large quantities so some would be sub-par. If you breed a bloodline for egg production the birds get lighter (bodyweight) or you get sub par coloring. I would suggest finding someone who showed a bird at a poultry show and buying stock form them as the bird has to conform to body shape standard as well as color.

    They are slower to mature but worth it for the table. If allowed to roam free they will forage happily but will not get as heavy as they burn so much energy running. The muscle they carry also makes them excellent at flying. I'd clip the wings at a young age, so they don't know they can fly. Keep a low roost (maybe 3 ft), as they can hurt feet/breast on landing as they can be so heavy. Hurt feet makes it easy for mites to move in.

    They can be a bit on the wild side if you do not make an effort to spend time with them to tame them. (easily tamed with bread, they will eventually eat out of your hand). Hens are reasonable layers, I didn't keep track but I think I got 100 eggs per hen per year. They are excellent mothers and out of ten hens 4 or so would set on a nest. Keep note of which bird sets, once a setter always a setter. My setters always died of old age.

    They're great for the table at any age but as layers they will eat you out of house and home.

    My birds roamed free on the farm and I had one setter raise three broods one year, the last discovered Halloween day after a warm October.

    My suggestion is to keep cornish and maybe one or two of another breed (Rhode island Red) so that you get decent egg numbers and from a small flock you would have no trouble identifying which bird laid what egg so you can raise what you want.

    As far as fighting is concerned I found them to be average. Noise, I found they didn't make as much as other breeds I've kept. One thing is true, the bigger the rooster the deeper the voice.
     
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    I love my dark cornish. Of all my hens, I find them to be the first layers reaching POL even quicker than hybrids which really surprised me. They have a kind of feral sense to them. They fly further and forage farther than my other chickens. I agree that the birds from MM are awful. They've been outcrossed with Leghorns or something too much and are under sized and have poofey tails for no reason.

    I am cross breeding my Dark Cornish cockrel with a couple Freedom Rangers and a Black Sex Link. I have previously crossed him with a Sussex and Barred Rock. They are good meat birds. I just need a larger sire to make it work I think... so I think I need to line breed the cornish and get larger males. I haven't got hte cross just right to the point I'd be making my own meat birds (not yet) so in the meantime use Freedom Rangers.

    I don't find the Dark Cornish to be any slower to develop than any of the other purebreeds. They're just surpassed by hybrids, as genetics would dictate. They are reliable layers. The eggs are in the medium/large range rather than large/jumbo range. They're a more pale brown, sort of creamy. They're more similar in color to the Sussex eggs than the darker RIR/Barred Rock eggs. I like to have varying sizes and hues of brown in the egg carton. I think it gives my eggs an edge over homogonized eggs at the grocery store.

    If you check Heritage Foods, someone has made a market for himself selling Dark Cornish chickens as a heritage food with culinary advantages. He's fetching $35 per bird. So, as always, find your niche and exploit it.
     
  6. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you all so much for the replies. I have a lot to think about. But it seems that I definitely want to avoid buying Dark Cornish from McMurray. What great advice that is, because I was considering them.

    Greyfields, Where did your birds come from?
     
  7. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Which birds? The DC? MM.

    I have been trying desperately to find Cornish breeders in my area. Everyone is doing bantams though. :\\
     
  8. keeperofthehearth

    keeperofthehearth Chillin' With My Peeps

    Here are a few pic's of my Cornish, Tegan.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Tegan was POL when these were taken but she pretty much looks the same. She is about 3yrs old now
     
  9. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I finally have time to sit down and really respond to everyone who posted and helped me out here. First of all, thanks everyone, y'all are great! And I am amazed by the wealth of knowledge I got on breedingand raising birds. I currently have 5 pullets, dominiques and BR/Dom crosses, and have just started getting my first eggs, so I'm pretty clueless.

    I would love to have a broody hen, of any breed. I would be very excited about that, and would definitely want to keep her forever.

    Also, I believe I misunderstood what Greyfields was saying earlier. I was thinking, MM birds are bad, the birds I have are great. Then I see that you have Dark Cornish from MM, and are improving them. So, if you get hatchery birds (of any breed), you can't expect the Standard of Perfection, but you can try to breed them closer to the standard on your own. That makes sense, with the quantity of birds that they have to produce.

    I haven't been able to find any DC breeders near me. On the other hand, the Dominiques I have are from a breeder, but they are culls from the breeding flock, and don't meet the Standard, either. Or he wouldn't have sold them to me at point of lay! But I love them and think they are beautiful.

    In fact, a breeding program of any sort may be a bit over my head at this point, so I should probably hold off and study on it some more before I jump in. It never hurts to get a bit more education!

    Keeper of the Hearth, your Tegan is really lovely. She has the look of a game bird about her, to me. Why don't I ever find beautiful chickens in the park? Thanks for posting the pictures. In the first picture, that Australorp(?) roo in the background is gorgeous! The red face on the black is very striking.

    Thanks again, everybody!
     
  10. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    After readin through this again, I'll comment that I have had two Dark Cornish hens go broody in the first year. This may be a breed trait since that's 20% of my DC pullets. I don't need broody hens; but I have about 110 hens so it doesn't bankrupt me to have a couple broodies about. I tried to break both of them in rabbit hutches, but they ended up breaking me first.
     

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