We raised our own meat birds, Freedom Rangers. We chose that breed because they have a darker & more flavorful meat than the Cornish Cross. The Cornish Cross are the huge white birds that you see in the factory farm pictures, the ones that grow so fast they have heart attacks. Freedom Rangers are a slower growing breed, and are also more natural. For instance, when I let them out they go running out into the grass. Half flying but they are so heavy they don’t make it far, so its more like a bounce with the occasional face plant. Very funny to watch.
The benefits to raising your own birds (or having your local friendly farmer do it for you) is that we know exactly what they eat. No chemicals, no antibiotics, just the Purina crumbles. Here is the description from Purina about this particular type of feed:
Flock Raiser® SunFresh® 20%-protein nutrient-rich ration that takes “natural” to a whole new level by using only the freshest, highest quality sun-grown grains and plant proteins to give birds the wholesome, healthy goodness and fresh taste they deserve. Made from natural plant-based ingredients FREE of all animal proteins and fats, it contains all the quality nutrients necessary to raise strong, healthy, beautifully colored chickens, ducks and geese from hatch, through growth and to laying age – all in one bag.
- FREE of all animal proteins and fats for healthy, happy birds
- Consistent nutrition for starting and growing chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese (turkeys after 8-10 weeks) – all with the same bag of feed
- Top nutrition for a fast start, consistent growth and healthy activity
- Enhanced with lysine and methionine to give birds the healthy nutrients they need to look great and build lean muscle
- Strong Vitamin A fortification helps birds grow into healthy breeders
- A superior level of Vitamin E helps birds ward off disease
- Our guarantee that this is the very best feed providing safe, natural nutrition for poultry
Protein (min.) 20.0%, Lysine (min.) 0.95%, Methionine (min.) 0.35%, Fat (min.) 3.5%, Fiber (max.) 5.0%, Calcium (min.) 0.8%, Calcium (max.) 1.3%, Phosphorus (min.) 0.7%, Salt (min.) 0.35%, Salt (max.) 0.85%, Vitamin A 7,000 IU/lb, Vitamin E 14 IU/lb
Because of the breed type and our choice of feed, these birds cost more to raise then the Cornish Cross or a whole chicken you can buy at the grocery store. But I was wondering what the actual difference was when it was broken down. So I weighed my chicken before cooking- 7.5lbs. That is one of our larger chickens, and that works well for my family of six. We have birds starting at 5lbs for sale. Lately I have been boiling my birds whole. For a couple reasons. First, because it is easy. Put it in the pot and forget about it. Second is because I love the stock I have at the end. The only thing that is a bit burdensome is that the skin needs to be removed from the chicken before boiling. To solve that problem, you could roast the chicken in the oven, even easier. Put the chicken on a roasting pan, cover with foil and done.
After boiling the chicken for a couple hours, I remove it from the water and let it cool. The chicken will fall right off the bones at this point. I had about three pounds of meat from my 7.5 pound bird. If you boiled your chicken, the broth can be strained from the bones and used how ever you prefer. In addition to soup and other standard stock recipes, we make rice with it as a substitute for the water. The bones have more to give you still. I put the bones in the crock pot, fill it with water and simmer it on low for a day or so. Delicious smell to the house and even more broth. I have actually been able to do that twice (after 24 hours, strain the bones, save the broth, and refill the crock pot with the bones and more water) with still a rich broth.
I searched on Stop & Shop’s website and found some prices. The closest stock I could find was Nature’s Promise Organic 32 oz for $2.99 and Pacific Natural Foods Free Range Organic 32 oz for $3.99. Both of which I am sure are still full of chemicals and such but for comparisons sake, let’s call it $3.50 for a 32 oz container. I can easily get eight of that size containers from boiling the bones. 8 containers of store broth= $28
My kids LOVE chicken salad. All I do is cut up the chicken, add some mayo, salt, pepper, maybe oregano or basil and that’s it. They would eat it every day. So let’s pretend we turned all three pounds of this chicken into chicken salad. Willow tree chicken salad $7.99/lb, so 3 lbs = $24
Sakonnet Farm chicken- 7.5 lbs, $30
Grocery store broth and chicken salad: $52