Day Old Dark Cornish Baby Chicks
Hatching February to November.
Dark Cornish Chickens are prized for their large breasts, and their flavor. They also have great instincts for avoiding predators.
Production: You can expect 160-180 brown eggs per year from a Dark Cornish hen, so they are only fair layers. However, most people raise them for the quality of their meat.
Temperament: If you are looking for a pet chicken, the Dark Cornish may not be for you. They are able to defend themselves to some degree against predators. They also tend to avoid human contact.
Dark Cornish are excellent foragers, and are very active birds. To raise them successfully, you will need some area for them to roam and forage. They do not handle containment particularly well, but do need plenty of well-insulated shelter for protection from cold temperatures.
History: Originally, the people who developed this breed used Asian game birds and English game birds in the hopes of ending up with an unbeatable game bird. What actually happened, though, was that they developed a breed with game instincts and excellent flavor.
Today, most people raise Dark Cornish as meat birds. People describe their meat as “gourmet quality,” and they make great roasting birds. They have been popular in the US for many years, and were first included in the American Poultry Association’s Standard of Perfection in 1898.
When you purchase a chicken from the supermarket, you are buying a Cornish Cross. These are birds that are bred for their fast growth and their large breast size by the commercial poultry industry. The Dark Cornish is used in the breeding of these birds to contribute flavor to the offspring.
Dark Cornish do tend to go broody, but because of their body shape they often have fertility problems. Artificial fertilization is the most reliable way to reproduce this breed. They also have short feathers, which can make it difficult for hens to adequately incubate the eggs.
Colors: Dark Cornish are brown, with hens sometimes being a slightly lighter shade.
Status: American Livestock Breeds Conservancy Conservation Status: The ALBC lists Dark Cornish in the Watch category.
Body Type: Dark Cornish have compact bodies with tight, close feathering, making them often heavier than they appear. They have widely spaced legs, powerful thighs, and wide, deep breasts.
Standard Weights: Rooster 10.5 lbs, Hen 8 lbs, Cockerel 8.5 lbs, Pullet 6.5 lbs
Classification: American Poultry Association Class: English