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.
Dale, thanks for that run down. Just imagine if you let the FR go another couple weeks till at least 81 days (label rouge requirements) those babies might of been 6.5 lbs!!!! We got ours April 10 (I think a few days after you) and they have busted out just in the last week or so....huge growth. I feel overwhelmed caring for them since they nearly run me down for feed in the AM & PM!!! It's quite a sight, like a riot breaking out quite literally. In that respect I would of liked this job to end by now, but we have until the first week in July.
Have a safe trip!
I'm sure it's more expensive than factory-farmed meat, but I bet it's much cheaper than buying family-farmed chicken from the health food store. Dr. Mercola is selling family-farmed whole chickens for nearly $5/lb, plus extremely expensive shipping.
So I think it's definitely economical, if you compare it to healthy chicken :-)
Thanks for the breakdown. It's nice to see it organized in a nice chart like that.
We did our first FR birds last month and it came out to about $1.50/lb. Much cheaper than the buying Free Range chicken from the store @ $4.25/lb. Not to mention I know where these birds were raised and how they are treated. Just because a store bought bird is labeled free-range doesn't mean it is. The USDA definition of free-range is that they have to have access to the outside, they don't actually have to be outside.
What an interesting breakdown! I agree, that is certainly a reasonable price/lb when you consider your rangers are humanely raised. It is more economical than buying the equivalent product.
For our space (only a quarter of an acre), we will continue to raise cornish cross, although reading your experiment was interesting. We've had really good luck with our birds, and have a much better than 20% mortality rate. In fact, in this, our third year of raising cornish cross, we've only lost a total of three birds - all this year.
The problem, for us, is that we have such a small space, and we can only raise ten to twelve chicks at a time, which means we have to space it out so that we have one "batch" in the brooder and one "batch" in the tractor outside at a time. With the goal of raising (at least) thirty birds per season, that means we have to have three "batches" and with each batch taking two months from brooder to butcher, it takes over three months from the time we get our first batch in the brooder to the time we get our last batch to the butcher. If we raised a slower growing breed, we wouldn't have the space for as many chickens as we need for the whole year.
If I had more space, though, I might consider a different breed of chicken ;).
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