I didn’t start out with Dark Cornish bantams when I got into poultry, I was a purely waterfowl person starting with Australian Spotted ducks and eventually moved into Black and White Magpies, Silver Appleyards, and Blue Fawn Call ducks. But in 2017 I started raising some bantam Light Brahmas to give chickens a try. I really enjoyed them and that breed’s personality!
My true dive into chickens happened in 2019. A longstanding member of the Fraser Valley Poultry Fanciers Association and longtime breeder of Cornish, James Cuvelier, passed away from a battle with cancer. Before he passed, Clayton Botkin and I offered to continue on his legacy through his Cornish chickens, specifically Dark Cornish bantams. This gave peace to James and was a true honour for myself to have this opportunity. This also meant I was definitely into the business of breeding, raising and showing chickens!
One of the biggest surprises for me was that after raising waterfowl for about 15 years, I felt like a complete novice again with raising chickens! I found myself questioning everything and asking for lots of help which I hadn’t done since I started raising ducks, but it was also exciting! Having the first egg, the first fertile egg, and the first chick hatch all felt like such huge achievements even though I have hatched countless numbers of ducks before.
As people in our hobby continue to age and get to the point where they can’t care for their birds any longer, I think those of us who are younger and able need to step up and offer our support. Whether it is going over to help with chores or integrating some of their flock into yours, there are many ways for those of us who are younger and more able to support poultry hobbyists who are aging and need some help. Take a moment to consider all of the years and effort they have put into the hobby that make it possible for you to participate now. We are a community built on a similar interest and goal, and we need to support each other when needed. Consider reaching out to someone in your area or club that is older and might appreciate some form of support.
I still have lots of learning to do with Cornish over the coming years, and lots of work and time will need to be put in to keep improving the flock, but knowing that this is what James would have wanted makes it all worth the effort! I can’t wait to win a show champion one day with a Dark Cornish bantam and be able to dedicate it to James Cuvelier.
By Matthew Smith