Meat Chicken Comparison

| 4/1/2015 9:35:00 AM

Christine NelsonWhen we set out to raise our second batch of broilers last fall, I really wanted to try out another breed. We had previously raised the Cornish Cross that we ordered from a hatchery out of Missouri.

That breed is fantastic for marketing a pastured broiler. With the large breasts and great size, it looks exactly like what folks who may normally purchase from the grocery store expect a chicken to look like. They range in size from 4.5 to 6 pounds butchered weight. Our spring batch turned out juicy and most of them reached the six pound mark, much larger than we expected. Cornish Cross also are ready for processing in a mere 8 weeks. Very pleasing for our first batch ever.

The broiler mess left after moving the chicken tractors in the morning. 

The broiler mess left after moving the chicken tractors in the morning.

Although this breed grows fast and has all of the characteristics desired by buyers, they do have their downside. They've been so specifically bred that they grow extremely fast and therefore can encounter health problems, resulting in higher bird mortality. They grow fast and so obviously eat ferociously. In fact, that's pretty much all they want to do. You can not free range a Cornish Cross out like your laying hens. They are much more susceptible to predators because they are fat and therefore not quick on their feet. They eat like crazy, so they poop like crazy. Thankfully because we used a chicken tractor they could be moved around to mess a new area each day.

I think anyone who has raised the Cornish knows what a mess they make!