Connecting with our Food Source

Posted by on May 17, 2013 in Chickens, On the farm

We are mere days from culling our first home grown broilers. And it’s kind of a BIG DEAL. We took the advice of a friend to try Cornish Cross. I am not impressed. Well, by literal definition, that is not entirely true, it has affected and deeply influenced me, just not positively!

The purpose of raising our own meat birds was, like many things on our farm, designed to reconnect us with our food source to gain better understanding and appreciation. We have certainly gained a better understanding but I’m not so sure we appreciate this breed, nor do I think we will raise them again. We are not alone. This particular breed is designed to grow very quickly. This is able to occur due to an increase in the natural growth hormone by “natural selection” (i.e. breeding the faster growing birds with other faster growing birds over a period of time). They have an insatiable appetite and that seems to be their sole purpose in life… to EAT. How horrible is that? We love our heritage breeds which all seem to have happy little lives and run amuck and chase each other and fight over the nesting boxes and are very curious little creatures. We love our birds. The Cornish Cross are a very docile breed, largely void of personality. I dread the day I walk outside and one of them is lame. We have had great luck in that all of our birds have reached a healthy weight without a single bird disabled. All have good energy and vitality. Maybe we’re doing it right? Or maybe we just lucked out?WWHA-9351

We have heard horror stories from folks who have had a bad run with this particular breed. We had a friend bring a bird by at 6 weeks that could not hold himself up on his own two legs. Unfortunately he was a bit adorable in the way he sat there so I included the picture, but it was sad that he was handicapped by a condition he was bred to have. The more I read about it, the more I think we’ll give the heritage birds a try, perhaps raise a handful of each side by side and compare the behaviors. The farming life is hard and I do sometimes wonder what on earth I was thinking. I may not be the most politically aware person, but at least I know where my food comes from!