The Cornish chickens breed, previously referred to as the Indian game is an impressive chicken breed that has been used to develop most of the present meat chickens, including the popular cornish cross.
Muscular, broad, Widely spaced legs with a large diameter, the cornish chicken was bred for one purpose only; war. It was meant to be a fighting bird, hence the name “Indian game”. Fortunately, it did not make the cut as a fighting bird but became very popular for it’s fine-textured large proportioned white meat.
History of the Cornish Chicken Breed
In the 1820s, Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert, a general in British East India Company. He is said to have produced a chicken breed by crossing the Black Breasted Game of Lord Derby and the Red Aseel. His purpose was to combine the power of the latter with the speed of the former. The breed failed as a game (fight) chicken as it did not have the fighting characteristics of its parent breeds
The “Indian Game” as it was earlier known might not have made it in the ring, but became popular among breeders and poultry keepers because of its unique qualities.
In the 1800s the Cornish was promoted as the ultimate dual-purpose chicken that could produce both eggs and meat and work in every climate. This was not the situation on the ground, because it turned out the cornish was not a good layer, a fact attributed to its body shape that reduces the room for production of eggs. The close feathering makes it hard to keep itself warm. They also grew slowly and consumed a lot of feed.
The cornish was inducted in the APA (American Poultry Association) Standard of Perfection is 1893 as the Indian Game. The name was changed to White Indian Game and Cornish Indian Game in 1905, to give room to the white variety.
In 1910, the APA changed the name to the Cornish and moved it from the oriental class to the English class. This was due to the fact the word “Game” in the name associated the bird with cockfighting and the word “Indian” made people think it originated from India. In Australia, the Cornish is still referred to as the Indian game.
The challenges of growing slowly, consuming a lot of feed and inability to survive the cold northern climates pushed the cornish into interesting market niches.
The first one was the cornish birds are processed early producing tender, one pound meat that is full of flavor.
The second one is that it is bred with other fast-growing breeds, to produce present-day broilers. It has produced the Cornish Cross (Cornish Rock) which has become the backbone of the modern-day chicken meat industry. The Cornish Cross is said to be a cross between the White Cornish and the Plymouth rock chickens, producing a breed that can be processed between 6 to 8 weeks.
Variants of the Cornish Chicken Breed
- White Cornish
- Buff Cornish
- Dark Cornish
- White laced red Cornish
Characteristics of the Cornish Chicken Breed
The cornish has short feathers that a close to the body. This gives it a smaller appearance than is really the case. The feathers it hard for the bird to keep warm during winter.
The body of the Cornish Chickens is muscular and broad. It has deep-set eyes and a slightly curved beak, giving it a fierce expression. Cornish chicks are more cannibalistic than other breeds.
Cornish Chickens need space to exercise and develop their muscles. Male Cornish Chickens will develop still legs if not given enough space for exercise.
Cornish Hens get broody and can sit on eggs, but their small feathers can only cover a few eggs. They also make good protective mothers, but they are too active to stay with the chicks.
Cornish chickens forage well and make for a good backyard free-range chicken.
Cornish Chicken Breed Profile
- Egg Shell Color: Medium Brown and Pale Brown.
- Egg size: Small
- Egg Productivity: 160 to 180 eggs per year
- Skin Color: Yellow
- Cornish Chicken Breed Standard Weight.
- Cock: 10.5 lbs
- Hen: 8 lbs
- Cockerel: 8.5 lbs
- Pullet: 6.5 lbs
- Purpose: Meat
- Temperament: Aggressive, will not handle confinement. Ideal for free-ranging
- Size: Large.
- Broodiness: Normal
- Climatic Tolerance: Endures warm temperatures. Cannot handle winter well
- Varieties: White, white laced red, buff, dark
- Color Description: Different colors depending on the variety.
- Conservation Status:
- Country of Origin: Great Britain