We have harvested our broilers and done a comparison of our Cornish X (CX) versus our Freedom Rangers (FR). Here are the results.
Here are explanations of the different lines of the table.
Days to processing – we got the CX two weeks later than the FR because we knew that they grow faster.
Mortality – We always have problems with our CX and have a 10-20% mortality - sudden death, leg problems, enlarged craws, etc. The FR are much hardier. Only 3 FR died but one got its leg broken somehow and didn’t gain weight and the growth of another was stunted by illness so we only counted those two as one bird. We processed 40 CX and 46 FR.
Total lbs of meat per bird - the CX caught up and surpassed the FR in weight gain per bird. They are bred for rapid weight gain and our experiment proved it. The FR actually looked larger but the CX are stocky and when you picked them up you could tell the difference. I think getting a 5.9 pound average carcass in 7.5 weeks is just amazing
Chick cost – We get our CX cheaper through 4H so they have an unfair advantage here.
Feed consumption and cost. Both CX and FR were on pasture but the majority of their feed still comes from purchased concentrates. The CX are much more efficient in feed conversion. The FR are much more active and burn calories through their activity and it takes longer to get them up to weight. Feed is the main cost so this is a big issue.
Processing cost – we were originally going to harvest the birds ourselves but since we are going on vacation next week we don’t have time to harvest 86 birds. So we took them to the Mennonites. I have no problem paying them $1.94 per bird to do it.
Overhead costs – we estimate our overhead costs to be about $0.25 per lb. This is for mileage to take the birds to get processed and for wear and tear on waterers, feeders, heat lamps, pasture coops, etc.
Total cost and cost per pound – as you can see, it is not economical to for us to produce our own chicken. We can buy it cheaper in the store. We grow our own because we like backyard farming and producing our own food.
Our conclusion – I like the Freedom Rangers. They are pretty, active, and hardy. I don’t like Cornish Cross. They are ugly, lethargic, and die easily. However, we do have to consider the bottom line and I am leaning towards CX.
TASTE TEST – Next week we will take 10 CX and 10 FR iced in a cooler on our 2000 mile drive from Antietam Glen, Maryland to Alta Canyon Park, Utah to serve up a taste test at the Johnson family reunion. Stay tuned for the results.