Cornish X vs. Freedom Rangers

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by bwmichaud, Nov 16, 2011.

  1. bwmichaud

    bwmichaud Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've been raising meat chickens but I've never done both of these varieties in the same year so a side by side comparison wasn't an option. I decided that this year I would raise more meat birds so that I could share with family and friends and also sell some to help cover my costs. I also sold a lot of chicks the day that they arrived from the hatchery and I included the use of one of my chicken pluckers in the price if they bought at least 25 chicks. I ordered the Cornish x from Welp Hatchery and the Freedon Rangers from Freedom Ranger hatchery this year. Here are some interesting things that I discovered:

    I sold the Freedom Rangers chicks for $2.50 each and the Cornish x chicks for $2 each. It was much easier to sell the Freedom Rangers than the Cornish X.

    The people who bought the Freedom Ranger chicks had no "mystery deaths". A few of the people who bought the Cornish x chicks lost some for no obvious reason.

    People were willing to pay $1 more per pound for the Freedom Rangers and I received a lot more calls for the Freedom Rangers than for the Cornish x. (I'm guessing about 3 Freedom Ranger calls for every 1 Cornish x call)

    Out of the people who called for the Cornish x, every person that said that they would be there to pick one up showed up and pretty close to the time they said that they would.

    Approximately 20 percent of the people who said they were coming for Freedom Rangers didn't show up at all. Of the ones who did show up, about 1/3 of them were over an hour or more later than the time they said they would be there.

    Many (maybe 60%) of the people who came for Freedom Rangers wanted to see my setup and how they were raised. Only 1 of the people who came for Cornish x wanted to see my setup.

    The people who bought the Freedom Rangers, as a general rule, were "dirtier looking" and drove crappier cars than the Cornish x buyers. This became a joke with my wife and I. Every time she passes a piece of junk car now she always says "I know what kind of chicken they eat!"

    I felt that the Cornish x were better eating birds and looked nicer when dressed but I also felt that the Freedom Rangers weren't as nasty to raise.

    Of the friends and family I gave free chicken to, the ones I gave the Cornish x to said that it was the best chicken they ever had. The people I gave the Freedom Rangers to just didn't rave about it. (none of them knew or even cared what type of chickens they were)

    I took both types of chicken to a pot-luck and explained the differences between the birds to people. When I told people up front which birds were which, every one of them (8 people) said that they preferred the taste of the Freedom Rangers. When I let people taste the chicken before I explained the differences every one of them (7 people) said that the Cornish x tasted better. Thinking this was a fluke, I tried it again a month later at a club meeting. This time the results were very similar. Out of the 1st group (knew the difference up front), 5 felt that the Freedom Rangers tasted better and 1 said that the Cornish x tasted better. (Incidentally, the one who felt that the Cornish x tasted better has raised them in the past so there could be some bias there.) Out of the 2nd group (didn't know the difference), 5 out of 5 said that the Cornish x tasted better.

    I made more money on the Freedom Rangers and had an easier time raising and selling them so I'll be doing them again but I'll certainly do the Cornish x for me and my family. I tried the Kosher Kings before but I was unable to sell even one when I advertised them as Kosher Kings and had to market them as just plain meat chickens before anyone bought one.

    Any other similar, or different, experiences out there?
     
  2. johnsons-r-us

    johnsons-r-us Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Interesting information. Do you think that people just didn't want to like the CX birds because of their reputation/genetics/conditions?
     
  3. Kobey

    Kobey Out Of The Brooder

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    I was thinking the same thing. My guess would without knowing they like the taste better because it's more like what they are used too from store bought.

    But when told it's "different" they put more value on that different taste.
     
  4. bwmichaud

    bwmichaud Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I don't think it was so much of an issue of people not liking the Cornish x as much as it was an issue of people feeling better about a chicken named Freedom Ranger. When I think about it, it really sounds great. The people who I had taste the chicken to see what they liked were people who knew next to nothing about chickens except for one of them. I'm planning on buying some supermarket chicken and having someone else prepare it along with my 2 types of homegrown chicken. I really want to see if I can tell the difference when I don't know which is which. It'll be kind of like when they had the Pepsi challenge back in the 80's. I'm a Coke guy and I could easily tell the difference. I did however fail a blind taste test with potato chips once. I swore for years that State Line was my favorite potato chip. All of my friends preferred Lays. We did a blind taste test and I preferred the Lays. Some of the Lays guys ending up preferring State Line. I sure hope I like my chicken better than the supermarket or I'll be really bummed out.
     
  5. peterlund

    peterlund Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I would guess it is a name thing as well... Unless if the prospective buyers actually SAW the Cornish X's... THen they might have been scared off. (Not a pretty bird). Where abouts do you live?
     
  6. rbefarm

    rbefarm Out Of The Brooder

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    I raised mostly Freedom Rangers this year in our Pastured Poultry business. I'm getting $3.75 a lb for a roaster which is the same as my local competition's Cornish X prices. Interestingly I've had a lot of people this summer tell me my chicken is the best they've ever eaten and way superior to any chicken they bought anywhere. Some were former customers of my competitors who said that their chicken tasted like grocery store chicken although they realized the birds were raised humanely and cleanly. So my experience has been completely different. I won't raise the Cornish X. I don't have time to baby them and worry if they'll drink enough in the heat or drop dead on me. [​IMG] The Freedom Rangers do fine with very little care and I have very few losses even as new hatched chicks.

    Now I did try some birds from S&G Poultry and had a good experience from them also. They have their Red Rangers which are very good and I tried some Delawares which were also quite good. We could not quite tell the difference from his birds and the Freedom Rangers in taste and eating quality. If there is a difference, it is quite slight. He also had Heritage Whites which are supposed to be mainly White Rock but they have large breasts and seemed sluggish to me. They were nastier to raise than the others and more sluggish natured so I wonder if there's some Cornish X in them? No idea but they did clean out nicely and grew quite fast compared to the others. I let some get to nearly 12 weeks old and they were massive...too big really.

    My main complaint with the Freedom rangers is that they are harder to clean with dark pinfeathers. They also seem very variable by size. I just did some at 9 weeks and got every size from 2.5 lbs to over 5 lbs. One thing S and G's birds have is greater uniformity. Of course the longer you wait, the better they taste and the closer they are to the same size. It's as if there are different growth rates within this strain.

    I have almost talked myself into trying the Heritage Whites again just to see if my first experience was atypical or if my bias against the Cornish X type birds had some influence on me. I did not think they were quite as good eating as the Freedom Rangers but my husband said he could tell no difference. I had only one regular client complain and ask for the "French" birds.
     
  7. bwmichaud

    bwmichaud Chillin' With My Peeps

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    johnsons-r-us - I think you are spot on. Lets face it, Cornish x are associated with factory farms and bad conditions and there is a segment of the population that are just not willing to support that. Also, there is nothing pretty about a white bird that doesn't feather out well AND has crap stuck to it's chest feathers.


    Kobey - This is probably correct. When they didn't know what it was, the Cornish x was closer to what they were used to, only higher quality, so they liked it better. When I explained that Freedom Rangers roam around and forage more and that Cornish x are the same type of chicken that you would buy in a supermarket only free ranged, they felt that the Freedom Ranger was a higher quality product and were willing to accept the differences as better quality.

    peterlund - I live in VT


    rbefarm - The people that BOUGHT the Freedom Rangers did tell me how good the chicken was and many returned to buy more. It was just the people that I gave FREE Freedom Rangers to that never had much to say. When asked, they said that it was good but they just didn't rave about it like the people who received the Free Cornish x. Since these were all friends and family who know nothing about chickens and don't particularly care about different types or how they were raised, I wonder if they just preferred the Cornish because it was closer to what they were used to.

    While I do have pens for my birds, they are allowed to roam around a 6 acre field during the day. I found that the Freedom Rangers would cover a larger area than the Cornish but it still wasn't a huge area. The Cornish x just went between the waterers, feeders and shade. Out of the people who wanted to see the live birds, I was kind of pleased when the Freedom Ranger buyers got to see birds roaming around but when the one wanted to see the Cornish x, I was a little worried that they would think that the birds were nasty and not want them. The Cornish x just don't feather out as well as the Freedom Rangers and there also tends to be poop stuck to the chest feathers which is kind of nasty if you think about it.

    While the Freedom Rangers didn't dress out as nicely as the Cornish x, the majority of the people who bought the Freedom Rangers didn't seem to mind the slight imperfections. I only had one person who came to buy a Freedom Ranger change their mind and buy a Cornish x because it looked nicer.

    I sold the Cornish x for $3/lb and the Freedom Rangers for $4/lb. The people who bought the Freedom Rangers seemed to prefer chickens in the 4-5 pound range and the people who bought the Cornish x all wanted larger chickens.

    I'm wondering if the Freedom Rangers that you received were all three different colors that they have and if the differences were related to color. I only received 2 different colors and the vast majority of them were all the same color. My sizes were fairly consistent with the smallest being 3.75 lbs and the largest being 6 lbs.

    Another thing that I noticed is that the people who bought the Freedom Rangers seemed to be better educated about what they were buying. They seemed to know what a Cornish x was and they didn't want it and they were willing to pay a premium for the Freedom Rangers. The people who bought the Cornish x seemed to just want "homegrown" chicken and bought the Cornish x because they could get more chicken for less money.

    We eat the extra cockerels from out of our laying flock and over the years we have done Black Australorps, Buff Orpingtons and Silver Laced Wyandottes and now Barred Rocks and White Rocks. I'm having high hopes for these White Rocks because they are so much larger than all of the rest. I'd like to try some Delawares at some point as well. I find the heritage breed dual purpose cockerels to be the right size chicken for 2 people. We can slaughter one and have the breast and wing one day and the leg quarters the next and make a little pot of soup with the carcass for lunch. While this might work for me, people don't want to buy these for meat because they look so small compared to what they are used to. It's too bad because they really are the right chicken for some situations.

    I'll have to give S and G a try. I just checked out their website and it looks interesting. Maybe I'll get a mixed order of the different breeds they offer in the spring. (even the crazy looking naked necks)

    Thanks for taking the time to respond. I always try to learn from others experiences as well as my own. This can only help me out in the future.
     
  8. rbefarm

    rbefarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Hey no worries. I love this stuff and am fascinated with the possibilities!

    I really like the idea of dual purpose broilers also. The Delawares intrigue me. S and G sent me only roosters when I ordered Delawares and they did finish out right about 5 lbs at 12 weeks as promised. Of course you could do them a bit younger if you wanted for slightly smaller birds. I got no hens. I wonder if he's got a strain now that finishes large enough to be a fairly lucrative broiler as well as for eggs. I would LOVE to have self perpetuating broiler flock and to be able to quit buying chicks as well as brooding them. I don't know that hens could brood and raise enough to meet demand but it would be fun to try and see what they can do if given a chance. I have several older Buff Orp hens that want to be mothers every spring so it's tempting to let them brood and raise little broilers.

    With the Freedom rangers, your scald has to be spot on or you will be digging out pinfeathers. Even then, most do not pluck as clean as the Heritage whites did nor as clean as the Cornish X do for sure. I wish they came in a white color! This current batch was mainly reds and buffs with a couple of barred ones...fairly typical. I have kept a few Freedom Rangers as laying hens just to see how they'd do and their lay rate is fairly poor and their eggs are a lighter almost white color. They do move around and forage though and are pretty active. I have mainly Wyandottes for layers and they never stop foraging all day long so they set a pretty high bar for being active.
     
  9. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    I am not surprised to hear that many people preferred the Cornish Cross in a blind taste test. It's not because it tastes like supermarket chicken. A properly raised Cornish Cross is a very delicious bird. They do what they were bred to do extremely well.

    As for supermarket chickens, taste there can really vary. I just bought some because the sale price was so good. It is a fairly local company with a good reputation and the birds have been quite nice to eat. On the other hand, I've bought supermarket chickens that were shipped in and sometimes it is actually inedible. I've had supermarket chicken that was so bad I threw it away and didn't even offer it to the dogs.

    I have not tasted Freedom Ranger, so I have no way to compare the two. If nicely raised, I would expect it to be delicious meat.
     

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