Say NO to Fast Food – Heritage Chickens VS Cornish Cross for SUSTAINABLE Meat

March 2016 Throwback

Cornish X are raised to grow extremely fast, you cannot breed them yourselves effectively. This makes you dependent on someone else immediately. We personally live this lifestyle to be as self sufficient as possible so, to me, the Cornish X does not make sense for that reason alone. Rangers grow more slowly but definitely faster than a traditional heritage chicken. They cannot be effectively bred either. We do order and grow Freedom Rangers for our meat market sales as they seem to be a much more “normal” chicken than the mutant called Cornish cross. I mean seriously? People want super fast and easy, big breasted meat. But for what cost? Health and loss of quality of living for the Cornish X? Loss in quality of taste, slimy white fats low in omega 3’s? Loss in nutritional content?

Lets talk about taste, Cornish are bred to have huge breast meat but tend to be a bland flavorless, dry bird, just like you would buy at the grocery store. Ask a chef if his first choice would be a Cornish X over a game hen or heritage, pasture raised bird. If he had a choice between my Bresse or Barbezieux over a CX, I know what the answer would be. These birds go for an upward of $200 in France and not because they were raised fast and cheap but because they get their amazing flavor from grasses and foraging over a longer period of time.  Once again, I am trying to do things much differently than anything you buy in a store. If the end result is the same…why not just save yourself the time and trouble? The fat on a CX bird is not anywhere near the golden yellow of a heritage bird raised to forage and gain muscle tone slowly. The temperatures are higher as they have had their immune system practically bred out and down to nothing as they are hybridized to grow fast, not live long. And boy do they drop like fly’s! We butcher 100’s of CX for people each year and each time they smell terrible compared to a traditional chicken. They have sores, bruises, cant walk from growing so quickly, we have seen many a broken leg or wing. Their hearts and livers are pale from the stress of their weight, It makes you want to put them out of their misery. I will butcher whatever someone asks me to but I will never feed a Cornish X to my family. I have learned through educating my customers, that they really do want a healthy, happy chicken if they know the difference. I have given a chicken or two to customers just to try, and they come back wanting more, never knowing there was a choice!  Education is important and the choice of a better meat bird is as well. I don’t want the fast, easy route. I want a healthy raised bird with beautiful, golden yellow fats & amazing flavor.

There are plenty of heritage breeds that have been raised for meat and dual purpose for decades. Granted, they don’t have mutant sized breast meat but they never were intended too. We raise White Chanteclers, American Bresse, and French Barbezieux as well as several other more standard known breeds. We have processed Jerseys, Marans, Delaware and many more to find they are all great dual purpose breeds.

French Barbezieux

 I cant argue with time if that’s the comeback I get. Yes, it takes less time to raise your unsustainable Cornish X but that’s all you get.  Trust me I get a lot of grief from the Cornish X lovers. I compare them to McDonalds Lovers VS a Fine Restaurant (and sorry, I’m a REAL food lover, I’d never step foot in MCD)  Don’t believe that the cost is more either, the argument doesn’t stand up. Yes you have Cornish for less time but in that time they eat you out of house and home (and normally not any kind of feed I want my chickens around). They will literally eat til’ they die, if you let them. Feeding a naturally raised heritage breed chicken may take longer but the cost is the same, maybe even less (depending on how much free range time and space they have, of course). Lastly, every time you purchase a CX bird, you are padding the pockets of Tyson Foods who owns the CX Hybrids via Cobb – Vantress.

We don’t give heritage breeds enough credit, they will find what they need if they have the space to do so. We have found that allowing them to free range and forage daily, feeding them fodder in the winter and finishing them with raw organic milk has provided us with a great meat for the family, from happy, healthy, chickens. These chickens, we know, had a wonderful real chicken life. That, we are proud of. I hope others will continue to choose quality of quickness and educate your friends, family, market vendors that we all have choices.

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