So this spring we started our meat bird journey using Cornish Cross Hens.
As you can see from the photos, they grew rapidly. The last picture is them at 6 weeks of age! We fed them Meat Bird Maker crumble, purchased from Southern states. We decided to process them at 9 weeks instead of the usual 7 because they still didn’t look big enough. But essentially they got through roughly 10 bags of feed. ($14 per bag)
Each bird topped out around 5/6lbs.
For the second round we decided to trial Red Rangers as I had heard they were more healthy. I didn’t manage to get a photo so here is one from the McMurray hatchery website:
So here are the benefits to using the Red Rangers – they move more, because they don’t grow so rapidly. So they don’t look quite so depressed.
They don’t smell as bad. Due to the Cornish practically eating themselves to death and never moving from the feeders they produced an exceptional amount of poop! Which they then often sat in and the smell was pretty horrible. We found with the rangers, they didn’t produce as much mess and were easier to rotate because they could still walk well.
They ate less. They didn’t eat as much as the Cornish, but this in turn led to their one downfall. There wasn’t as much meat. So much so, I would say that 2 of the Red Rangers breasts were about the same size as one of the cornish!! Also my husband said that due to having to leave them longer to fatten up this also lead to the butchering process being a lot tougher. They were harder to skin and pluck.
Another downfall, because they are not as gross, they were easier to become attached too. On several occasions I wanted to keep the smaller ones and if they had been hens I probably would have. Which defeats the object of having separate birds for meat I guess.
So all in all we wouldn’t personally do the Red Rangers again. We prefer the short time of the Cornish and the fact you end up with a lot more meat.