Historic Meat Bird Crosses

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by DonofPaw, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. DonofPaw

    DonofPaw In the Brooder

    Dec 17, 2009
    Hello Folks,

    I have raised Cornish Cross in the past, they tend to be giant targets when I free range them. I have put some old layers in the freezer.

    I live in a cold climate, Massachusetts and would like to start a small self sustaining flock of birds. My initial plans were to to get dorking and dark cornish hens and to get one rooster of each variety, and maybe 5 or 6 hens of each. I would raise the roo's together and hope they get along well enough, keep the pure breed chicks to replace the adults and eat the extra chickens and the crosses. Any thoughts on my plans?

    It is only my wife and myself currently, with guests so no need for tons of birds. We raise muscovy's, guineas, and plan to raise a pig as well next year. We also don't need amazing numbers of eggs and we would like them to be strong free rangers. I would sell extra eggs and I could probably sell extra birds as well.

    If you think my plan won't work on such a small scale, that is having two roosters, which will not be separated, as I do full free ranging, then which way around would you do the cross? I think I have read on this site that tradition is Dorking roosters over Cornish Hens. Who is the better layer, and who is the better rooster?



  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing 8 Years

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I have no experience with Dorkings and very little with Cornish. However I wanted to comment that if they are raised together, the roosters will likely get along just fine. I am doing something similar to your plan, but using Barred Rocks and New Hampshires instead. Both are dual purpose breeds and I have a line of each that are very large and very tasty birds. I breed to improve the lines I have, and never mind if cockerels hatch because they become future meals, while I have my choice of pullets to raise out to be breeders and egg layers.
  3. pepper48_98

    pepper48_98 Songster

    Sep 17, 2008
    I started with the same idea of finding a good cross but have found that just Cornish is hard to beat. I crossed with Jersey Giants, and a few more but finally got rid of everything except the Cornish. They don't lay that well and take a while to mature but for meat, IMO they can't be beat.
  4. CastleFarmUK

    CastleFarmUK In the Brooder

    Jan 2, 2013
    Welsh Boders UK.
    I use an Australorp Rooster from a good egg laying line of around 200 eggs per season. The numbers of eggs are reduced by this breed going broody.


    I always use a second season bird that feathered up fast and was a good example of the breed. A mature Australorp Rooster should weigh around 9lbs if fit.

    Mated to.
    Pure bred Dark Cornish Game.[​IMG]

    You need to select birds that are slightly higher on the leg than the bulldog types.

    The strain Of Cornish I keep have been selectively bred for higher egg numbers over a number of years and return around 120 eggs in a season, again numbers are low due to the tendency of the hens to brood.
    Both male and females would do better on a free-range system. Cornish have to have excersise to keep the fit and active. If you don't allow enough room your Cornish will get fat and life expectancy and fertility will suffer.

    The resulting chicks hatch all black with walnut combs. They always grow away strongly. Feather up fast. Rarely get ill and are easy going calm birds that do not seem aggressive with other males from the same hatch.


    These lay around 6 eggs a week when in full lay. Egg size is large and buff in colour. Very weatherproof, thanks to the tight feather gens from the Cornish. Active and alert and free-range well.

    This is a rooster tabled at about 25 weeks on free range and a mixed corn diet (around 12% CP, depending on grain sample) My mix is 3 Wheat.1 Yellow cut Maize and 1 Rolled Barley.
    Cider Vinegar (for horses) from day old in the drinking water (1/2 cap full in 3 ltrs of water) and Cod liver oil in the grain once a week during a spring/summer Twice in winter.(just enough to make the corn glisten)

    I usually select the very best rooster and the best pullet and ring them with a coloured leg ring. And when mature, with the pullet laying a 2oz egg (around 30 weeks old) and sibling mate them.

    From this you will get a split in colour in the chicks. A % will come out all Black and a % carrying the colour of Indian Game chicks (brown/white). Again depending on the strain you mat get one or two of these.


    Once you have you breed the Blacks back to the Blacks for 2 generations. This will give you a % of single combed birds with black legs and feet and white soled. What you have here is the start of a line of tighter feathered Australorps that resemble what the original Australorps looked like, before they introduced Cochin into them.If you had the Australorp Rooster that put the male side into the original pen mate the best pullets back to him.

    The best showing gold hackles should be mated back to the Cornish Game line you started with. These produce what I call 'Improved Indian Game; They lay very well and good size strong birds. Yellow legs can be bred out of your looking for a white skinned table bird.
    You need a lot of room for all the breeding pens and it takes a great deal of work and effort.

    What people over here (or at least some of them) are trying to get back to is basics in poultry. How the breeds and birds were before the commercial sector took over meat and egg production.A bird that produces enough eggs and the cut off point is 144 to feed her for 12 months. Ability to hatch and incubate the next generation. The males should be a worthwhile investment in feed to warrent taking it on till 25 weeks. Weatherproof and have the vitality and vigour to live.

    I have just checked and the photographs haven't loaded I'm afraid. My web page has the information of the breeds and picture or find me on https://www.facebook.com/pages/Utility-Poultry-Keepers/231571570247281

    Dave Harris.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2013

  5. DonofPaw

    DonofPaw In the Brooder

    Dec 17, 2009
    Castle, your page is fantastic! I love all of the information you are sharing. Your system is overly ambitious for a homestead level guy like me I think though. I am really just looking for a small flock that is able to avoid predators, free range for a good portion of food during the high season and provide me with eggs and a pretty good meal. I love the look of the dorking and think I would have a market to sell any extras. My only thought was to cross it with another old breed to get an even better table bird.
  6. Randoo

    Randoo In the Brooder

    May 13, 2012
    Southern IL
    Castle great info!

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