Pasture-raised chicken breed comparison

Farmer: Jason Hayes

Farm: Burdock Grove Farm

Region: West

Publish Date: February 6, 2018

Article Type: Research Project

Research Priorities: Livestock Breed Selection 

Jason Hayes raised groups of Nova Free Ranger and White Rock chickens on pasture and measured feed intake, carcass yield, taste and nutritional quality.

Key Findings

  • From one successful replicate, the Nova Free Ranger group had a lower (better) average feed conversion ratio and greater return to labour ($5.30/kg vs. $5.05/kg).
  • Blind taste tests suggest the taste and texture of Nova Free Ranger meat is preferred by culinary professionals but that the average non-chef customer may prefer the smoother texture of White Rock meat.
  • Average OMEGA 6:3 ratio of one White Rock and one Nova Free Ranger was 9.5:1, higher (worse) than previously published results from pasture-raised chickens but lower (better) than previously published results from non-pasture-raised chickens. Vitamin content was higher than all previously published results.
  • Delayed arrival of Nova Free Ranger chicks allowed analysis of only one replicate in 2016, so additional replicates are needed to draw conclusions​.
  • Evaluating the nutritional quality and profitability of alternative breeds on pasture helps producers choose breeds that are better suited to integrated, pasture-based farming.