About Cornish (a.k.a. Indian Game) Chickens
known as Indian Game, Chickens are bred specifically for meat production. They
produce meat more efficiently than any other chicken. They reach a dressing
weight of five pounds at five weeks. Cornish chickens lack the typical hairy
feathers left over after plucking other breeds—a fact which saves processors
the energy and time of singeing the carcass prior to butchering. They show
little desire to forage and generally handles confinement well.
considered loud and intractable. The roosters readily show aggression and Cornish
chicks at times show cannibalism. Health problems associated with their rapid
growth prevent the kind of activity common to most chickens. The high feed
conversion ratios give farmers a narrow margin of error in feeding.
Underfeeding yields fowl prone to predation. Cornish farming works well in a
commercial production under highly monitored conditions but will most likely
fail in a backyard coop.
Cornish chickens are
broad, muscular fowl on widely spaced yellow legs. They manifest in three basic
colors; Dark, White, and White Laced Red. The Cornish breed has short feathers
that leave parts of the body bare. They sport a pea comb, no crest, and small
wattles. Their protruding brow, piercing eyes, and curved beak support their
reputation as a predatory bird. Most of the commercial growers breed Cornish
with white feathers and yellow skin.
Many Cornish cross breeds break their legs or grow lame as a result of their
rapid weight gain. Ulcers develop in lame birds forced to sit in their own
feces. Consequently, they require wire pens to keep their bodies away from
ammonia rich feces. Cornish fowl fed too much can die of heart attacks. Those
fed too little display predation. The backyard breeder would do well to stick
to the hardier Cornish chickens or the new hybrid called the Colored Ranger
rather than the commercial Cornish cross. Pasture the chickens as much as
possible. Pen any who go lame. Move their run often to encourage exercise and
discourage parasites. Provide a warm, draft free coop for these short feathered