Best meat breeds

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by snewman, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. snewman

    snewman Songster

    Feb 22, 2007
    Belleville, WI
    I've ordered a crazy assortment of chicks for my first time in. Mostly birds to keep for laying, but also some cornish X and assorted heavy cockerels for meat. Then I got to thinking that since now I'll have established my laying flock by next year, perhaps I could raise my own meat birds in subsequent years. If I was to do that, what is the "best" or at least a good breed to get a few hens and a rooster of? I was thinking perhaps white rocks or white wyandottes. Any thoughts?

    I was also thinking of getting cornish and rocks and making my own cornish X rocks, but I wasn't sure if I'd end up with quite the same thing as the ones you can buy.

    I would really appreciate any thoughts on good meat breeds, and about breeding my own crosses. Just trying not to reinvent the wheel and waste time and money on too much experimentation.
  2. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I'm interested in the responses to your question but have only limited experience on this issue. I have, however, raised Cornish X's, Barred Rocks, and Light Brahmas as broilers. There have been a few odd birds, here and there, as well.

    The Barred Rocks were a disappointment, frankly, and that choice only warranted a single try. They were scrawny birds. The Light Brahmas were a better choice for me but grow very slowly and the feed costs are high. The Cornish X's performed as expected.

    I understand that the White Cornish is a difficult rooster to find. White Plymouth Rocks aren't even all that common in my area.

    Here's an article that I found interesting to read: "The Original White Meat, Farm, Table & Energy Friendly."

    edited to add this article quote: "At its root the Cornish-X bird is a combination of White Cornish and White Rock genetics. Over time, however, their genetic formulation has become ever more complex and rests on the combining of a number of very hybridized breeding lines. Such complex breeding formulation makes them all but impossible to produce anywhere but from within a large, corporate structure." I don't know the truth of the matter.

    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  3. AtRendeAcres

    AtRendeAcres Songster

    May 23, 2007
    Clarion County
    I am also interested in the response you get!

    I have read the Sussex has wonderful table qualities!
  4. hcammack

    hcammack Crowing

    Oct 5, 2007
    The delaware was one of the old time broiler hybrid chickens the Females also lay eggs and they do not have the health problems of cornish X's My ladies are very meaty ! I am sure it would cost more to produce them as they grow slower.

    Good Luck,
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    Check out the meat bird section. There are quite a few topics on best meat birds, dual purpose birds as meat birds, and making your own cornish rocks.
  6. Eggseronious

    Eggseronious Songster

    Mar 6, 2008
    East Tennessee
    Yes the Rocks Or Wyandottes are good meat birds, just not quiet like the Cornish crosses. You can raise your own while getting eggs too. These Cornish crosses are messy, lose alot feathers off their butt and belly where they drag around and death loss is greater than Standard birds. [​IMG]:old
  7. snewman

    snewman Songster

    Feb 22, 2007
    Belleville, WI
    Thanks to everyone for your input on this topic. Birds are set to arrive in a couple of weeks, and I should know for myself what I think by the middle of the summer. I'll see how this summer goes and will be able to contribute more myself later on.
  8. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I encourage you to read through the Meat Bird forums here. There is constant discussion on different breeds and hybrids used for broilers. I will do my best to summarize here, but you really ought to read the first couple pages and learn other people's experiences.

    Quote:The industry standard for meat broilers is the Cornish Cross. It's likely that every single chicken you have eaten in your life was a Cornish Cross.

    Heavy breed cockrels take 15+ weeks to reach a decent weight for slaughter. By this time, they are very much roosters and exert all their energy chasing women and fighting rather than growing. Their body conformation is also different from any chicken you are used to eating. There simply is no purebreed which can put on any decent ammount of meat. You really need to be raising hybrids for meat.

    Also, when you look at the quantity of food you have put into a heavy breed cockrel, you will have been better off buying a free range, organic, day spa pampered, educated broiler from Whole Foods. The $/lb is better than raising your own.

    Quote:You can certainly do this. The only serious sire you can use will be a Cornish. Most people can only find Dark Cornish (not white) and it will work as well. As far as dames, you can pretty much use anything. I have used, or know people who use Plymouth Rocks, RIR's, Dorkings, Sussex, Black Sex Links, Freedom Rangers.

    Quote:If you are doing it for the science experiment personality in you, you can try different dames; but you have only one serious option for sire.

    One thing I would like to point out. I prefer people view broilers as crops of meat they grow, rather than having a standing flock of chickens around and hatching a clutch when needed. With vacuum sealing and frost free freezers so easy to come by, doing a crop of 25 birds, processing and freezing is really the way to go as the quality isn't diminished. This is a better way to spend your time throughout the year, rather than maintaining a separate flock of brids you may only use once or twice to collect hathcing eggs from.

    Quote:Yes you can do this. No, they do not grow nearly as aggressively as purposely bred broilers. The genetics for commercial broilers have been selected for 50 years to the point where the "Cornish" and "Rocks" they use little resemble anything you can find in your backyard. All chicks sold from retail hatcheries have been bred for laying ability, rather than growth rate. They've also been outcrossed repeatedly to improve the egg laying ability (you often see RIR's or Cornish with big Leghorn tails).

    Quote:This is my recommendation:

    1) Raise a crop of Cornish Crosses:

    Pros: You will get very fast growing birds, you will get quality meat, you will learn first hand why people complain about Cornish Crosses, you'll learn the ropes of processing

    Cons: Cornish Crosses spontaneously drop dead even with the best management, you could lose 1/3 of them to coccidiossis, they are hardly feathered, they are horrible foragers and have all their vigor, disease resistance bred out of them. You could put them in the best pasture with the best conditions and they may not stray more than 10' from the feeder.

    Some people have no problems with Cornish Crosses, which I think depends on your climate more than anything. I had tremendous problems.

    2) Move onto alternative breeds:

    Idea offers Black/Red broilers which are allegedly better suited for free range, pasture or organic production. I have not raised them but have heard good things.

    I personally raise Freedom Rangers, which are heritage breed hybrids suited for organic/free range production. I cannot say enough good things about them, check the Meat Bird section:

    For us, we started with pastured Cornish Crosses. We had horrible problems with mortality. In the end, we decided that we weren't into farming simply to recreate industrial farming conditions, but somehow being 'better' by throwing them on some pasture. The genetics in Cornish Cross broilers simply do not exist for outdoor production. So, we mercifully found Freedom Rangers and they are the best tasting birds I've ever raised or owned.

    As a small aside, to be organic in the UK the chicken must be 81 days old. In the US, the standard Cornish Cross is processed at 42 days. Can you imagine what monsters the Cornish Crosses would be at 81 days? If even alive, they'd be monsters and the ammount of feed they would have eaten would make the economics not work. So, these Freedom Rangers were developed to grow more slowly. In exchange you get better disease resistance, better foraging ability and overall better flock vigor.
  9. farm_mom

    farm_mom Songster

    Mar 11, 2008
    I've raised Dark Cornish before and I had very few issues most people experience with the Cornish crosses. I didn't have any losses, and they were free range and in with my Buff Orpingtons without an issue. They act "chickeny" and didn't experience any of the health/leg/continual eating problems many talk about with the crosses. The meat was excellent!
  10. hiddenmagnolia

    hiddenmagnolia Songster

    Dec 21, 2007
    South Louisiana
    I have raised both the Dark and White standard Cornish and had no problem with my birds. The only reason that we stopped raising standard and raised only the bantam Cornish was a space issue. We only had two city lots. Total space of lots where 120'x124'. Subtract house and storage sheds. We had to give up the standards.

    Then when kids started raising meat broils for 4-h we would keep some of the pullets for eggs. The other cornish x where butchered at 8 weeks. The rest of the pullets that we kept where put on laying feed and the lights where turned off at night. That way they slept at night instead of eating 24/7. The crosses lay some double yoke eggs that is why we kept some for eggs.

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