I’d heard during a NOFA workshop that there was a heritage breed of chickens that had nicer flavor and that were better adapted to foraging on pasture.
View part one of processing video here:
I’d just finished raising some Cornish Crosses on pasture in a mixed flock with turkeys, ducks, a variety of egg layers and a pair of Chinese Weeder Geese. I used two different brands of electro-net fencing and moved the 50×50 foot pen around my 3 acres of pasture on about a weekly basis. My flock was about 30 strong after the first small ones were picked off by various birds of prey, raccoons, cats, etc. as I got my system down that first year. The Cornish crosses always just kind of grossed me out. The were so ravenously hungry all the time, and they grew so fat so fast, they were always naked under a thin layer of feathers that couldn’t keep up with there expansive growth and glutonous weight gain. As they got fatter, I had several that just stopped being able to get up and run around like the other chickens. They would heft their girth up only when absolutely necessary to go get water or head into their coop for the night. Eventually a few broke a leg in their daily activities of trying to jump up or down in the coop, or run around. I was very interested when I heard about the heritage breed of French meat chicken. I tracked down one hatchery that had gotten some from another that had gone out of business. I think it was Meyer Hatchery (in OH), but I dont’ see the breed on their list now. I have a few left that I will try to breed next year.
I only raise the birds for my home consumption. I am really opposed to the commercially available meat options after touring the middle of our country and seeing the factory farm conditions. I have spent enough time close up with chickens and cows to know that they are sentient beings and although I choose to eat them, I don’t want them to suffer from boredom or confinement during their lives before their final day. Learning to raise and process my own meat and egg layers has been fun, heart breaking, and always interesting for me and my family and to my surprise, also to my neighbors who became very invested in my flock as the birds were very interactive with all the walkers who got used to their honks, and gobbles of hello as they went by the pasture on a daily basis. My male Royal Palm turkey figured out that all he had to do was walk onto the fence and push it down in order to get out, so he frequently took walks down the road with grandmothers pushing surprised toddlers in their strollers and strutted his stuff in front of my sliding glass door. His beauty and personality were a great surprise and delight to everyone who saw him.