best bird for the meat

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by eggmaster6, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. eggmaster6

    eggmaster6 New Egg

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    I am wanting to start a flock of meat birds but not sure which breed is worth the time. I have a flock of 6 layers right now and they are pretty low maintenance. I live in western Oregon we have two seasons, August and winter so if that makes a difference in what breed to pick please help. Also how long do you allow meat birds to live before dispatching them? Thanks everyone.
     
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Cornish X Rocks: about 8 weeks. Pioneers or Rangers: about 12 weeks. You can allow either kind to free range. CxR are more prone to problems if you don't harvest at a young age. Pioneers or rangers don't give you as big a carcass, but can be held over for layers.
     
  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    X2 for lazy gardener
    Cornish X are worth the time.
    Cornish game hens can be butchered at 3-3.5 weeks. Rangers make Cornish game hens by 4 weeks. I usually butcher both by 7 weeks so they fit into the vacuum bags.

    For flavor, that's another story. Bresse and Black Penedesencas are tops or other heritage breeds like Java.
     
  4. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am curious if Delawares are still popular among the backyard hobby farmers and homesteaders. They were the last standard breed of chicken before terminal breeds became the norm.

    I'm considering maintaining a small flock of them to breed meat birds as well as providing eggs, instead of buy "one time use" chickens from a hatchery. I don't really need more eggs and I know cost would be a disadvantage but as the world grows more hostile, sustainability is starting to win the argument in my head.
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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  6. snaffle

    snaffle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Last summer I raised cornish rock for the first time in 25 years. Will never do that again. I ordered 50 chicks for 8 weeks. They dressed out at 7.8 and even had one at 9 pounds.

    These chickens layed around most of their lives because their legs are so weak or they hurt so bad.I thought they were sick as day old chickies but in fact the problem with the legs showed up even then.

    It was so sad to watch them. At close to 7 weeks I had a couple that could no longer move around...and even found at least 3 dead in the mornings for no reason.

    I am interested to find out which breed is preferred for meat that won't make me feel abusive.

    I am NOT a tree hugger type person, or animal fanatic but this was a terrible thing to experience
     
  7. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is pretty much what I'm getting at. Like I said, the Delaware was the commercial breed before terminal crosses. My brother recently started running a commercial chicken operation and will give me all the leftovers the company doesn't take. I did it once and they did behave like tortured creatures.

    My brother sprung them on me because he was ready for a new flock and had to be rid any other birds left. There were about 50. I wasn't prepared for processing just yet and had to back order some equipment. It was almost a month before processing them and I couldn't afford to feed them the way they were used to. I tried, and every day a bird died and the most dominant of the flock would plant themselves at the food and water dishes and just eat, drink and crap themselves.

    After a week, they had ruined the floor in the shed I set them up in, so I kicked them out. All they got for shelter were a few bushes and under the shed. I thought more would die from the elements but they didn't. To stop the fighting at the food dish, I spread food on the ground twice a day and that was all they got. After this, no more died, their skin didn't look nearly as irritated, their stools became more solid, they stopped drinking water like mad and would peck and scratch a little within the fenced area I gave them. I thought what I did was more healthy for them but when I processed them, they had almost no fat and were tough as hell. The stringy meat could have been their age but I felt bad when I realized how skinny they had become.

    Later, with research, I found out you can raise CXs like pioneer/rainbow/freedom rangers but you have to limit their feed availability to around 12 hours a day. They'll take longer to grow out but they will be more healthy.

    What I was looking for was opinions on buying terminal crosses vs. the sustainability of maintaining dual purpose flock with our changing political and economic climate.
     
  8. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    If you do go this route, be sure to source your birds from someone who is working with the right sort of lines for what you are looking for vs. the hatchery version that has gone the way of all other hatchery breed lines where the bird they "used to be" is no longer what you get .
     
  9. Nupe

    Nupe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's been in the back of my mind too. My local feed store guy said he can get me some when I'm ready but I'm pretty sure those are hatchery birds. The next order of business would be to find a good breeder. I figure I'm in the right place for that. [​IMG]
     
  10. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

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    There was a lot of enthusiasm for Delawares a couple years ago ... The breed sounds so attractive on paper: Good meat from the males, good year-round eggs from the females. It seems the enthusiasm for Delawares has dropped a bit, but also there are a some Delaware projects going on.

    I'm working with a re-created line of Delawares and they are coming along well for nicely shaped birds, and we've really enjoyed them, but they are not show-quality yet and they are slow to mature. I'm putting a LOT of high-quality feed into my flock. It's an investment. Faster maturation will come with time, we hope. I use broodies to hatch and raise my chicks, and they have access to pasture from the start, and that seems to work for me, meaning they are "sustainable," except for the high-quality feed (the Livestock Conservancy recommends high-quality feeds for dual-purpose LF heritage chickens).

    There are probably faster-maturing lines of Delawares out there.

    There are also other LF Dual Purpose heritage breeds that are looking very good. Buckeyes, for example. That's a very cool breed.
     

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