There are many claims to the history of the Cornish. It is broadly accepted today that Sir. Walter Raleigh Gilbert of England
developed the Cornish around 1820. Once being known as Indian Game, and later as Cornish Game, both of these designations are
incorrect for the Cornish is neither a Game Fowl nor an Asiatic export. It is also a false statement in the Cornish initially
being developed for the cockpit. Developed from the English Game, Aseel and what was known as Pheasant Malay the Cornish has
characteristics typical of cockpit destined fowl, making it understandable for the false assumptions.
Between 1858 and 1859 the Cornish started appearing in poultry shows yet remained practically unknown outside of Devon and Cornwall. Having had an excellent displaying at the Plymouth show in 1870, the Cornish was made apparent to the rest of England; yet, breeders had still failed to recognize the value of the Cornish. Although slow, the Cornish found its place with the help of articles written in 1886 and 1887 advocating the superiority of the Cornish/Dorking cross upon the table. It would be in 1887 that the first exports of the Cornish to the United States would take place.
Ever since the introduction of the CornishX into the poultry world, almost all development and improvement of our heritage breeds and varieties have fallen aside. It is only through the fanciers and show side of the poultry world that most of our heritage breeds remain if only a shadow of what they once were. As a larger portion of poultry purchasers are looking for alternatives to the CornishX, development has once again started in creating yet other commercial breeds of chicken to fulfill this market.
We needn't develop new breeds; but rather, redevelop old ones.
Being requested for years to raise chickens for the table, we always declined; not being comfortable raising commercial strains, or
releasing substandard poultry. Having an adequate table bird to present became a topic of many discussions, many failed trials across
many common heritage breeds, and several years rehashing the same dilemma.
To solve any problem, you must first ask the correct question to receive the correct answer; and sometimes, you must take a step backward to move forward; and with these ideas, we looked to the past, to the master breeders, chefs, and housewives who already solved this question. After research, we narrowed it down to two chickens that suited us, our farm, and our philosophy - the Dark Cornish being one of them.
What to expect from the Dark Cornish
While most people are accustomed to commercial strains of chicken, they are unfamiliar with heritage breeds, and the differences they
possess. The Cornish presents a moist firmness, tight grained meat, and a classic color classified as "yellow." Due to its Aseel
heritage, the Cornish also maintains a bold flavor not found in the majority of other heritage breeds; all of which may seem foreign at
first to those accustomed to today's commercial chickens.
When we look back into the recipes handed down to us by our grandparents or read through our cookbooks predating the Second World War, we find a very different chicken, and most noticeably a smaller chicken. With the Cornish averaging 3.75 lbs we find a table bird more accurate to those old standards. As the nuclear family is in decline and the table settings are diminishing, the old model of "bigger is better" is rapidly declining, and the Cornish fulfills the future market trends for today's and tomorrow's family.
As with everything we try to do at Elevage de Volailles, quality comes before quantity, and the highest standards are our starting point. If you have outgrown the tradition view of "cheaper the better," and are searching for quality, welcome the Dark Cornish.