Best Broody Meat Birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by CrowWing Native, Dec 6, 2016.

  1. CrowWing Native

    CrowWing Native In the Brooder

    Jul 14, 2015
    Forest Lake, MN
    Hello All,

    I am planning to start raising my own meat birds. I want to raise about 200 that will be processed next year.

    My question is, what is the best breed that converts food and is broody enough to hatch their own chicks?

    I think that about 15 brooders hatching 10 eggs (getting around 80 chicks) three times this summer would be ideal.

    Also, what should my rooster to hen ration be? Should I have two pens of 8 hens and 1 rooster?

    Crow Wing Native

  2. SIMZ

    SIMZ Crowing

    Apr 29, 2011
    Northwest Indiana
    In my limited experience, I really like our Black Copper Marans for dual purpose. They make a nice meat bird around 18 weeks and the hens are excellent mothers and often go broody. Our hatchery Cuckoo Marans have also been good, but you'd want to make sure you get them from a large-sized line.

    A good ratio is one rooster to 10-12 hens.

    It all sounds perfect on paper, but reality doesn't always work that way. Hens go broody when they want. Will you have more hens than the 16 in your two pens? Because you'll want to remember they aren't laying eggs when they're broody. A broody hen is setting for at least 3 weeks and then raising chicks for several weeks after that. (You may already know of this!)

    I'm sure you'll get lots of great suggestions here! Best of luck!
  3. Maeschak

    Maeschak Songster

    Mar 29, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    Primarily posting to see responses...

    But, I think you will find this is a common desire (raising a self sustaining meat flock) except for the scale!

    I have been reading a lot of meat threads and from what I have read it seems that a good line of Cornish (dark, or white if you can find them) that goes broody might be what you are after. Several folks on here have been very successful at breeding a great Cornish fairly quickly but I am not sure of their broodiness. I guess the major problem that folks run into is finding a good line of Cornish to start with. I have toyed with the idea of Cornish but the difficulty in obtaining a good white strain near me has stopped me in my tracks. (And no one here besides me would probably eat a chicken with dark pin-feather markings).

    If you want to/need to go with hatchery stock, there is someone on here who is in the process of doing a meat bird project/experiment who started with hatchery stock. You can find the thread here:

    Good luck and please let us know what you find out~
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Unless you've had dual purpose birds for meat before you may want to have a little hands on experience with them prior to getting a large flock with high expectations. It's a completely different bird compared to CornishX your likely used to purchasing from the store.

    As for a broody dual purpose bird look no further than my flock! Wow, these girls sit and brood every time you turn around. It makes for terrible egg production. They'd be awesome if I wasn't so controlling as to whose eggs I want to hatch. But for sheer brooding and mothering the Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock is on par with Silkie. It's a bit overkill and will be attempting to breed some of that out of my flock.

    The idea of pure breeder stock Cornish is a good one. People are always starting meat bird projects for a sustainable flock (i.e. not have to source meat chicks every batch and still have eggs) but they usually see such dismal results from the get go they abandon the project. Reality is you need to start with the best parent stock you can for any given venture. High quality breeder stock Cornish is all you really need. If bred right will yield 4lbs dress weight of cockerels in 14 weeks. Have the double breast that your looking for in a meat bird, proportions and appealing table carcass can't be beat. The down side is they lay few, very few, eggs. Collecting and hatching all would need to be done with an incubator or two. Staggered hatching by using one incubator for the first 18 days and a second for hatching. In this way your have constant rotation and wont muddy up the hatches with varying humidity.
    2 people like this.
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I agree the bird you're looking for is probably a Dark Cornish. They're good foragers, good broody mommas, and nice meaty birds.

    That said, here's free advice/thoughts generated from your post. You didn't ask, but here ya go anyway........[​IMG]

    I think you're going to need an incubator.

    Or some large Cochins, something like that, another breed that's more devoted to going broody.

    Most broody hens are going to give you 2 clutches a year. Some more dedicated birds might go three, like the silkies, Cochins, game birds, etc. But keep in mind each clutch, from when she starts setting to when she weans the chick around 6 weeks, takes 2 months. Then, you have some recovery time for the hen. It's not healthy for her to go broody back to back, she needs to regain some condition and start laying again. So count on 3 months from the start of one clutch to the earliest when you'll start the second clutch from the same hen. Most birds will only brood in the spring or summer, there are rare birds who brood in the fall but it's more hit and miss from the individual bird than a breed.

    Logistics of housing that many broody hens raising chicks.....I'm a big proponent of a broody raising chicks in the flock. But, having multiple broodies at the same time can complicate things. Hens get confused, or they see other chicks as threats to theirs, and things can get nasty. So, are you housing each broody and her chicks separate? Or just 2 broodies per pen, with different age chicks? I don't see having say 4 brooding hens in the same pen unless it's a very, very large pen. Or you have an option to free range, that would help everyone get along.

    If you have an incubator, you can set say 100 eggs and have one hatch to deal with. Brood and grow those chicks out in one batch. You can stagger your butcher dates, cockerels first, then let the pullets grow out a bit longer as time allows.

    Logistics of housing that many birds to grow out. These aren't the CX that get processed at 8 weeks. You'll need housing for all these growing cockerels and pullets until they're around 16 weeks. That's a lot of space, to keep them from pecking each other and generally driving each other crazy.

    You didn't mention previous chicken or meat bird experience. Have you eaten non CX birds? They're a bit different, and a lot of folks like the idea of them far more than the reality. Kind of like grass fed beef.

    My advice (again, free and unsolicited, take it for what you will) is to start smaller. Spend 2017 trying a few different breeds. See how you like them, how well they work for you. If you're only after meat, you might not be opposed to cross breeding. Start with maybe some Cornish, some good Rocks, Delaware, Wyandotte, something like that. You may wind up with say a really nice Rock hen who raises 3 clutches a year and is heftier than her counterparts.....put her under a Cornish rooster and hatch every single egg she lays. Keep those pullets as future broody mommas and butcher the boys for the table. This is just an example, I'm trying to say experiment a bit and find individual birds that fit your needs, hang on to them and reproduce them like crazy!
    3 people like this.
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    edit....I thought it was a good post, but not good enough to say twice [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2016
  7. SIMZ

    SIMZ Crowing

    Apr 29, 2011
    Northwest Indiana
    Actually, it was a great post full of great info! I would have read it twice!! [​IMG]

  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Well thank you [​IMG]

    there's been a glitch lately where posts get double submitted sometimes, guess it flared up again.
  9. MasAhora

    MasAhora Songster

    Nov 20, 2016
    x2 great post I read it twice.
    I am in the early stages with building meat and layer flock and a newbie to boot.
    Its easy to run out of room, I had enough pens with mini coops for my "PLANS" [​IMG] , yep I had plans, over the next 3-4 months..... until an unexpected mama hen walked in from the paddock with a surprise clutch of 7 so I had to halve what was a nice size pen. Plus, I have learned the hard way I have to separate each batch of chicks in their own coop/pen for their safety. Fortunately our coops can be very simple given my climate and minimal predator threat but I hate the over crowding that may occur over the next few weeks until a pen becomes free or I go buy even more fencing to complete yet another coop/pen which means walking further to tend to in heat/rain/etc. Low numbers per pen is cleaner and the grass survives longer so more pleasant for the chicks.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by