Anyone ever use New Hampshire Red's for meat chickens

my3jsons

Songster
9 Years
Feb 15, 2010
132
1
114
Oklahoma
We are using Freedom Ranger chickens right now for meat chickens but had thought about using New Hampshire Reds instead and just butchering the roos and keeping the pullets for laying.

Has anyone used this breed for meat? How old were they when you butchered them? Could you tell a difference in quantity or quality of meat in comparison to a Freedom Ranger (or other chicken bred for meat)?

All advice would be welcomed...

Thanks,
Kim
 

booker81

Redneck Tech Girl
9 Years
Apr 18, 2010
1,929
96
183
Mid-MI
Will you be purchasing hatchery quality or breeder quality birds? I've processed a few different types/breeds of chickens, and find that most breeds carcass out about the same type of birds ("dual-purpose") tend to be smaller and less muscle than their breeder quality counterparts. Neither will give close to the carcass characteristics of a CX, but they are still tasty. I put up an article and some pictures here of some different breeds and ages I've processed:

https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/comparison-of-breeds-and-ages-of-chickens-for-meat
 

Deb B

Chirping
7 Years
Jul 31, 2012
272
19
98
Southern Maryland
According the my Dad, what you are suggesting is what my grandparents used to do back in the day. They bought 50 straight run New Hampshire Reds each spring. They butchered the cockerels when they were 8 to 10 weeks old for frying chickens. They culled the hens that weren't laying well for stewing chickens, and replaced them with the pullets.
 
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AlbionWood

Songster
9 Years
May 24, 2010
331
5
111
Albion, California
We got straight-run NH a couple years ago and butchered the cockerels. I think we did them at about 16 weeks. Large thighs, long narrow breast, pretty decent yield for a non-Cornish bird, and WAY better eating. Meat was a rich dark red color, thick yellow skin. Not a good roasting bird, but the breast filets were superb fried, thighs were great in stew or curry (and I think would be awesome for sausage). Legs were long and a bit stringy but terrific in soup/stew.

Drawbacks: Long time to butcher, you have to put up with a month of nonstop crowing, lots harder to pick than a Cornish. Don't bother trying to process as a whole bird - getting your hand up inside that long narrow cavity is impossible - just cut them apart after picking (or skinning). NH roos can be aggressive.

I haven't tried FR yet but the NH was, in my opinion, way better eating than the CX - if you like firm-textured meat with a strong chicken flavor. The cost/lb is probably 3x though. If my wife had not declared "No More Roosters" in no uncertain terms, I'd be getting straight-run NH and Delawares, and culling down to the best for a breeding flock.
 

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