A better breed than Cornish Cross?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Lelilamom, May 25, 2016.

  1. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is our 5th year raising Cornish Crosses and frankly, I'm ready for a different breed. Each year the genetics get worse and worse. Stunted wings and toes, Spraddle leg, sparse feathers (which may be good for plucking, but they stay under heat longer) and other genetic issues make for higher percentages of loss and increased care time.

    Does anyone have a suggestion for a tasty breed to raise for meat? I'm interested in meat only, fairly fast growing. We have a flock of layers and dual purpose already.
     
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  2. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Red Rangers.

    I get approx. 15 each year. A co-worker orders some plus his laying hens and I piggyback on his order.

    They do take a couple weeks longer to reach the size I want compared to cornish and they do not get the huge breasts a Cornish does. Which I find to be a plus, my opinion the bigger the breast the longer it has to cook and the dryer it gets.

    I butcher around 10-12 weeks depending on the weight of the roos.



    Pluses:

    1. Don't eat as much.
    2. Absolutely no leg, toe or sudden death problems.
    3. They actually like to move around and didn't develop the breast blisters Cornish seem to develop.
    4. I'm fortunate in that I have a "extra" small 6 x 6 shed I use to raise them and I then make a temp. run for them. At about 4 weeks I let them out and they act like real chickens. They eat grass, scratch in the dirt, dust bath etc. This does cut the feed bill a tad but its more for me. I feel like I'm eating a real chicken and not some lab chicken.
    5. I never thought of it but I do get to cut the heat lamps sooner with these birds than Cornish, so there is a bit of savings on the electric bill.

    The biggest plus for me I believe the meat tastes so much better.

    1. Cornish is "mushy" to me compared to Red Rangers. I think this is due to the Rangers activity.
    2. I think it actually has flavor. This maybe in my head or it could be due to activity, grass/bugs, sunshine. There is a reason we do all the seasoning, different forms of cooking a chicken breast, it really doesn't have much flavor on its own. You can take a good steak or pork chop and if grilled correctly you don't need a thing on it to eat it and really enjoy it. That's hard to do with a chicken breast in my humble opinion.
     
  3. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow, thanks!! I will definitely look into this for next year. What is the average weight, dressed, that you get per Rooster and per Hen if you process at 10 weeks?

    How easy are they to defeather? Where is most of their weight if they don't develop the large breast? More evenly proportioned? Do you have a moveable coop or is your housing for them stationary. If stationary, how is the smell?
     
  4. phalenbeck

    phalenbeck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I raised about 20 lasy year. For some reason they resisted leaving the coop for the pen..They did eat/drink/poop more than layers, but nowhere near the stink, and no health issues of CX. Boys went to camp about 4 months/girls at 5 and 6. 2 have stayed around and are now normal low production layers At one point I had same number of layers on one side, and reds on the other and they ate 2x more food a day. Not much more problems than layers Deaths were my fault for not keeping up on security. Smaller breasts, bigger legs, and a better tasting product. This year fermented feed and yougert. I like that I can keep them as long as I want vs having to process before leg and flip problems. I like the speed of CX, but the flavor of the rangers and not havng to process till I am in the mood is worth something
     
  5. phalenbeck

    phalenbeck Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I do not remember the feathers as being more that a touch harder.
     
  6. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The roos were about 5 pounds at 14 weeks.
    Honestly didn't really weight the hens. The hens I usually just cut in half and grill and/or BBQ. Very good they are.

    I don't track it but my guess is it costs a bit more to raise to a good size, however, I don't every remember having one just drop dead like the Cornish.

    It maybe just in my head but I think they taste a whole lot better. I serve some up at my 4th of July BBQ and my friends and family rave about them.

    I have to admit Cornish gross me out. I think they are just nasty little creatures
     
  7. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks all! I loathe the cornish. I have to admit it too. They are 3.5 weeks old and I've already kicked them outside. It's 80+ degrees outside this week so they are fine. By the time they are 10 weeks old I'm racing outside with a knife to get rid of them. We rent a plucker so the feathers shouldn't be an issue.

    Do you have a "mental" problem processing such a nice looking bird?

    Do they breed? Have they ever raised a flock of their own? Could this be a self-sustaining food? Do the males crow? If I could breed them, I'd be willing to build a coop / run for just these and raise my own, keeping a few breeders around.
     
  8. scooter147

    scooter147 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No I don't have a problem with processing them. My problems come when I have one of this and one of that in a flock.

    I have had a couple roos that where starting to crow with that very hoarse short crow.

    I've never bred.
     
  9. chant

    chant Out Of The Brooder

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    Our experience is the same as everything mentioned above.. We switched the Rangers and are quite happy with everything about them. Plus they were all nice - we raised them with some chicks I hatched and even though they grew twice as fast they weren't bullies to the littler ones. They do taste better too; we haven't had a mushy one yet. Since they don't spend their days laying in their fecal matter (they actually roosted at night) we don't have to skin them like we did with the CX..
    We live in a subdivision so we had to cull the males as soon as they started crowing, at around 7 wks, and we culled a few pullets a week later (they were huge) and the rest at 10 wks. We have a small family so their size worked out for us.
    We didn't do a sheet of exactly how much they ate, but it was only about 1/3 less than the CX (based on feed purchased for comparison) and it seemed like they drank more.
    They were a lot easier to pluck as their skin isn't as thick as the sandal leather on the CX, and since they're a lot cleaner to deal with nobody was gagging while plucking.
    They still eat, drink, and poo a lot more than our regular chickens, but it's a much more palatable faster return on the meat. And, we had zero deaths from start to finish.
    We're never going back to the disgusting CX.
     
  10. bluto in mo

    bluto in mo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had my cx till 9.5 wks old only had 1 die. You have to restrict the feed to a minimum. They will free range just fine and mine dust bathed all the time. They only smell if you keep them in a small pen.
     

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