Cornish Cross vs. Freedom Ranger

At the beginning of the year, Heritage decided to try raising two different breeds of meat chickens and compare how they fared over the course of the season: Cornish Cross and Freedom Rangers.  The Cornish Cross is probably the most well known breed out there, and the farm has had many years of experience working with them.  Selected over the years for its fast growth and large quantity of breast meat, this "teenage mutant ninja" bird is not very hearty when placed in mobile pens outside, and in the opinion of this writer, is not the brightest flame in the fire.  Freedom Rangers sounded appealing not only for their super-hero-esque name, but also for their active foraging behavior and ability to flourish outside.


The set-up for our broiler chickens.  Their pens are moved onto new grass every morning to allow them access to fresh vegetation (and bugs).

I recently sat down with apprentices and chicken care-takers Ian and Julie to ask them some questions regarding the birds.  They described how active the Freedom Rangers are compared to the Cornish Cross, and their tendency to fly out of the pens when given the opportunity.  "There's one blonde beauty that takes off," remarked Ian.  "It's crazy fast." Julie observed "The Cornish Cross are curious.  They are not just fatter, they also have a more docile demeanor. I would say Freedom Rangers are prettier, but have bad attitudes."  I suggested they were not unlike super models in this way.   When asked how she has learned to handle the chickens during her tenure on the farm to, Julie offered this tidbit of advice: "I think they like being sung to.  But I don't do that when someone else is around."


Freedom Rangers attempting to make an escape via their feeder. 

One thing we did not anticipate was that the Freedom Rangers actually eat more feed than the Cornish Cross.   "The Cornish Cross are bigger, but they eat less," explained Ian.  Initially, we thought the Freedom Rangers' superior foraging ability would cause them to eat less of the grain we provided.   Now we are speculating the more active lifestyle of the Freedom Rangers drives their need for more calories.  Although we very much like the idea of raising a "more natural meat bird," there are definitely some trade-offs that need to be factored in to the equation when raising the Freedom Rangers.  Final judgement of the two breeds and the energies required to raise them will most likely come only after a side-by-side taste test is carried out.

The more docile Cornish Cross like to stick to the ground.

3 Response to "Cornish Cross vs. Freedom Ranger"

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Truly the best Cornish Cross/Freedom Ranger blog out there! Keep up the great reporting.

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