In the late 1940s, poultry geneticists engineered a fast growing chicken that could be raised indoors known as a Cornish Cross.
Since then, this breed is served in almost every restaurant and sold in every grocery store, this is what 99% of the US eats.
This bird grows at an unnatural, abnormally fast rate: six pounds in six weeks. Today the average processing age of the Cornish Cross chicken is just thirty-seven days. If humans grew at this same rate, we would weigh 260 pounds by the time we were two years old.
Because of the rapid growth of these birds, they can have physical complications; their legs and hearts can struggle to keep up with the fast rate of their growth.
We are working hard to raise alternatives to this breed of chicken.
The old heirloom or “heritage” breeds of poultry are what our grandparents raised and are the breeds that fed American families for hundreds of years before the Cornish Cross came along. When poultry grow at a normal, slow rate, the result is strong skeletal structure, normal organ development, strong immune systems, more nutrients, and incredible flavor. Heritage breeds are meant to be on pasture, they thrive on it; they run around, eat grass, bugs & grubs. It is natural for them to be outside, and their strong legs are able to run and enjoy it!
We also recognize that not all folks are ready for a heritage chicken, either because it cooks different or because it looks different (smaller breast and larger legs). So we started raising a chicken that is part heritage, part cornish cross and grows at a rate right in the middle of them, the Freedom Ranger.
There is a direct correlation between rate of growth and cooking method. The faster something grows, or the less muscles get used over a short period of time, the more it can sustain high heat. The slower something grows, allowing it to use its muscles more over a longer period of time, the longer and lower it needs to be cooked. We are striving to find the balance between healthy animals with natural behaviors and incredible flavor.