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best heritage meat bird

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by MyFirstFarm, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. MyFirstFarm

    MyFirstFarm In the Brooder

    Jan 31, 2010
    I'm sorry that this is probably a very frequently asked question but after searching around I cannot find a simple answer. Perhaps there isn't one. ;-)

    I want to raise meat birds this year, and I'm torn as to whether to go with Cornish Cross or a heritage breed. I've been reading that Heritage breeds don't taste like "normal" chicken (i.e. the mild flavoured meat we north americans are used to) but as I find chicken rather bland in the first place I'm thinking that shouldn't be a problem. And I'm okay with waiting longer to harvest.

    Thing is, I can't seem to find info on the best heritage meat birds. Does anybody here raise them, and if so what breed do you recommend?

    I'm thinking I may get half Cornish Cross and half heritage so I can do the experiment myself. But would love to know what heritage breed to get.

    Also, if anybody could recommend where to get such heritage chicks (I'm in Canada) that would be a bonus. TIA!

  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    For decades, when someone mentioned meat birds, it was a Delaware or White Rock young roosters. When I was a boy, dad brought home 250, straight run WR every spring for me to raise out. By late September, they where butchered. If you truly wish heritage type meat birds, those would be my two choices. Classics. I'd look no further. If I wanted something more modern, there are slower growing, ranging meat birds strains that aren't the freaks of nature other are. But they are still hybrids.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011
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    Last edited: Jul 21, 2011
  4. punky rooster

    punky rooster Awesome

    Jul 21, 2010
    I would think, New Hampshires, Plymouth rocks, Delawares, Buckeyes and Cornish would all be great.
    Best not getting them from a hatchery. I know of a buckeye breeder in Canada, but I am not sure where he is in it.
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2011
  5. MyFirstFarm

    MyFirstFarm In the Brooder

    Jan 31, 2010
    Thanks for your replies so far, everyone. It gives me a short list to work with.

    Punky Rooster, why not get them from a hatchery? Where else would I get them? Would local farmers be able to supply me with 25 or more chicks? I guess I could ask, but assumed it wouldn't be possible.

    (I've never bought chicks before)
  6. Arielle

    Arielle Crowing

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I think what Punky is suggesting is that people who breed chickens try to do a good job of selecting to the standard and thus have much better quality birds; the hatcheries are more volume oriented. I ran into your same concern so I bought hatchery birds to get started. And I will eventually buy from the good breeders for my next batch. Hope this helps. GL
  7. AlbionWood

    AlbionWood Songster

    May 24, 2010
    Albion, California
    Delawares were the best of the ones I tried. NH was good too, though the longer and narrower body made them more difficult to clean. HUGE thighs, though. I only slaughtered the cockerels.

    Mine were hatchery birds, and if you're planning to put them in the freezer, I can't think why you'd be concerned about whether they are perfectly true to type...

    There are a lot of caveats about heritage vs CX and it certainly isn't a simple question! Search this board for "heritage CX" or "heritage Cornish" or "dual-purpose" etc..

  8. punky rooster

    punky rooster Awesome

    Jul 21, 2010
    Hatchery birds are usually smaller and built more for eggs, not meat. Some hatcheries have some nice birds. Look around you may find one with a breed you want that is up to size.
    Good luck!
  9. lady feathers

    lady feathers Chirping

    Nov 29, 2010
    We have dark cornish that we ordered from Cackle this year, not sure if they ship to Canada or not... some of them are a bit smaller than the others (but we have some females in the mix too) but most of the ones we got are very nice stocky and handsome birds in my opinion, seem to have great personalities too- if that matters to you (they are very content to sit on my lap for more than an hour at a time just visiting)! We plan on using some of these with the females we ordered to get our own from here on out as we had trouble finding anyone who had eggs for hatching and didn't find anyone local to us to pick up some breeders. Haven't butchered any yet, but we also heard that flavor in these guys was worth the wait -we'll see!
  10. speedy2020

    speedy2020 Songster

    Jul 24, 2010
    If you like the flavor, try dorking or marans.

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