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Comparison of Breeds and Ages of Chickens for Meat

Many of us are used to the uniformity of whole chickens at the grocery store. When choosing to process chickens at home, the differences between the size and type of chickens vary greatly. Bantam chickens can be used for meat, but are obviously smaller. "Hatchery" birds that are "dual purpose" breeds often don't compare to the same breed that is raised and selected by a breeder for carcass characteristics. Older birds often are bigger, but still will look much different than the same weight of a store chicken. Below are some of the chickens I've personally processed.

 

Cornish Cross - these are birds I personally raised and processed between 7 and 8 weeks of age:

 

A dressed bird that weighed about 5lbs total. You can see the BIG breast meat, but the legs are smaller - similar to a store chicken

 

LL

 

One of my cooked Cornish Cross - again, big breasts, and standard sized legs

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"Dual Purpose" Breeds - these are chickens I raised or picked up for meat purposes.

 

A 15 week old SLW rooster that got too mean, too fast. You can see how much narrower the breast meat is, but the legs are longer than the Cornish Cross.

LL

 

Same bird, cooked:

LL

 

A bowl of bantam/silkie cross skinned chickens. You can see the presence of the darker colored meat/bones/tendons caused by the silkie characteristics. These were used for stock and the meat shredded.

LL

 

A seven month old SLW rooster. You can see how much bigger his drumsticks are. The breast meat isn't as pronounced as the Cornish Cross, but it still is substantial

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Comments (4)

Great job! I really enjoyed this. I've been looking at different meat breeds and this gave me some good pointers. :)
I haven't taken the step to start processing chickens . . . yet. I like to read about it, though, so that one day when I'm ready to take that step, I'll have the information I need. You provided great photos to illustrate what you were talking about. Thanks for the great information - and Congratulations!
Loved the photos, thank you!
We have 100 ( yes, I did say 100) chickens that need to be processed in the next few months. We r spending WAY!!!! to much on feed. It is our first time for meat chickens on our own and we have learned to NOT purchase the large breed, or even "hearty" or "heavy" breed for meat chickens. Cornish cross re the only way to go, unless you like spending much more than $20 on a 6 lb. chicken.
Ours came in as day olds in May and still not much meat. We r butchering in Oct. ready or not.
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