Dark Cornish broilers

Dark Cornish broiler on pastureI can tell that everyone’s starting to think
about buying chicks for their spring flock because I’ve heard from
several of you wanting more information about our Dark Cornish
experiment last year.  For those of you who weren’t following
along, you can read the highlights:
we chose to raise Dark Cornish broilers
and the economics of Dark
Cornish broilers (
per pound if slaughtered at 12 weeks
and even
more expensive if slaughtered at 16 weeks
.)  Basically, we
concluded that Dark Cornish don’t forage nearly as well as we’d hoped
and are very expensive to raise, but that the meat is some of the best
chicken we’ve ever eaten.

That said, I thought
you’d like to hear the experience of another backyard chicken keeper
who also tried out Dark Cornish broilers in 2010.  Reg Delorey

raised 40.  They took every bit of 20 weeks, some 24 [to reach
broiler size].

“Ample pasture and all the feed they could eat.  They weren’t big
feed eaters (my view).

“Biggest rooster I had was 7.5 pounds, [the rest were] anywhere from 5
to 7.  Hens were very disappointing 3.5 to 4.5.

“They seemed to reach that size at 16 weeks and didn’t seem to get
bigger after that.”

Dark Cornish broilersIn a later email, Reg went on to say that he
kept his broilers in tractors and felt like they were very good
foragers.  “They would rather attack fresh grass and bugs way
before going to feed.”  On the negative side, he was raising
Cornish Crosses in the same tractors as the Dark Cornish and the latter
killed the former.  “Somewhere around 8 weeks, 4 pound Cornish
roosters began killing my 7 and 8 pound meat kings [Cornish crosses].”

Reg concluded:

Thrifty Chicken Breeds

quite like them as hens around the barn, but as you’ve stated as a meat
producing venture it’s really not very productive.  That being
said I really want to cross them with something; I don’t mind the extra
time if I get a 5 pound hen from the cross at 20 weeks.  I’m
actually wondering if you or any of your followers may have suggestions
for a good cross with Cornish hens (besides a pot)….”

I suggested either
crossing the Dark Cornish with a Plymouth Rock to make your own Cornish
Cross, or perhaps breeding them with one of the old timey broiler
varieties like New Hampshire or White Wyandotte.  Any other
feedback to pass back on to Reg?  Any one else have experience
raising Dark Cornish as broilers?

Our homemade chicken
keeps your
broilers hydrated even on uneven terrain.

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