Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
I've raised chickens for more than 20 years, so I know there is more to chickens than fast weight gains.
Economically speaking, when a family needs to place a large amount of meats in the freezer, in the jar or on the table as cheaply as possible, the longer you have to feed an animal the more money you are spending. I can let my CX grow slowly and butcher at 10-12 wks while I'm still growing out a DP roo at 15-20 wks.
Pound for pound, the free ranged CX that I put in the freezer are much cheaper than growing out my extra roosters and provide more meat per carcass. I processed 20 CX last spring and placed over 120 lbs of chicken in my freezer. To get the same amount of meat from a DP, I'd have to process twice that number and maybe more. Why feed twice the number of birds and twice the feed costs for a longer amount of turnaround?
I'm sorry you had a bad experience with your CX, but my experience was vastly different. After raising dual-purpose breeds for many, many years and only eating those birds, I was amazed at the tenderness and flavor of the CX...not a one was mushy, as mine were not penned.
They exercised and gained muscle tonicity right along beside my layer flock. Their flavor was mild and not as nutty and rich as an older dual purpose breed, but it was still as delicious and less stringy and chewy.
I was also amazed at the huge amounts of meat on the carcass, the clean processing, the ease in plucking, the healthy organs and large, tender feet that were so good for cooking for soup stock.
The method of raising a bird means a lot when it comes to texture and flavor, so penning and overfeeding the CX does it no justice. Treating it like other birds and feeding it a healthy diet and providing good foraging with true free ranging~ instead of placing feed in front of it continuously and moving it around on the grass in little pens~ can yield a bird with flavor much like a young DP breed.
It would be easier to discuss this if you'd read the previous posts, but I raised the CX side-by-side with barred rocks, so they were fed the same thing and had the same experience. The only difference was that I had to start limiting the CX's feed at a week of age because they had already started to drop dead from overeating. And we had to butcher the rest at 8 weeks because they were starting to drop dead from who-knows-what, but they did not have healthy organs. The livers on some were pink (fatty) instead of reddish-purple, and the gall bladders were about four times the normal size. The fact that these birds are genetically programmed to eat themselves to death really bothers me.
I was just talking to a producer the other day who starts 550 CX every year for market, and she only finishes 500, which is 10% mortality and has to be taken into consideration. I have pretty much zero mortality with my chicks.
If anyone needs cheap meat, chickens are not the way to go. Grassfed beef and lamb are essentially free. We calve and lamb in the spring and butcher in the fall when the grass is starting to die. No need to castrate, and the meat is completely organic, delicious and tender.
Around these parts grassfed beef and lamb is extremely expensive, particularly if you don't have the land to raise them.
I can raise chickens on 1 acre but I can raise very few lambs on the same space. I can buy 50 meat chicks for $60 and put 360 lbs of meat in the freezer in 2 1/2 mo. , but I would have to buy a bred ewe at $175-$250 ea. and place around 30-60 lbs of lamb per ewe in the freezer every 6 months. Not to mention fencing/shelter and breeding back of said ewe. Hay would also have to be purchased to overwinter the breed stock, so another $100-$150 in hay each year per each ewe/lamb pair.
You see the difference in costs for someone who doesn't live on a ready made farm? Some folks have to feed their family on an acre or even less, so chickens are a great source of cheap meats that are still healthy and lean.
I had zero mortality with my CX as well and fully expect to have the same with the next bunch. I guess it is all in the husbandry styles used.
Chicken Thistle Farm does a "coopcast" (podcast) that I enjoy. On the 8-9-10th episodes they do a very in depth discussion on Cornish Crosses and I think it is very informative. I prefer heritage breeds in Turkeys, but I actually prefer the Cornish Cross for chicken production. I know that a lot of people will disagree with me, but I just figured I would get my opinion in there.