Best way to add weight to future birds?

rascal66

Songster
Sep 10, 2015
434
585
207
Washington
I'm interested in adding more weight to my flock- which breeds can help add weight while not losing the good laying aspects?

Hens I have currently are:
Australorp
Easter Egger
Welsummer
White Leghorn
Light Brahma
Bresse (poor quality)
Production Red
Black Sexlink
BLR Wyandotte
Several other Brahma butts

And the Roosters I have are:
Rhode Island Red
Buff Brahma
New Hampshire or Freedom Rangers (I'm unsure)

Originally I was hoping that the Brahma and the heavier red Roos i have would help me in the right direction. But I'm happy to hear any ideas or tips for going about this?

Thanks
 

VictoriaTemple

Songster
Aug 27, 2018
341
725
152
Southern Chester County, PA
Marans and Jersey Giant, both are great dual purpose birds with docile, curious, and friendly personalities that should get along well in your flock. Might make the Leghorns a little nervous, but then, everything does, right? Call Marans Chicken Club of America (MCCUSA) to find a local SOP breeder, they were great helping me. Jersey Giant is tough to find from good breeders, but if you’re ok with smaller hatchery birds, they will bulk up your flock nicely (think 8-10 pounds). Marans can be great meat birds (7-9 pounds) IF you get quality birds from a MCCUSA breeder. American hatchery Marans are mostly being bred for eggs, and are losing size in a hurry.
 

rascal66

Songster
Sep 10, 2015
434
585
207
Washington
Marans and Jersey Giant, both are great dual purpose birds with docile, curious, and friendly personalities that should get along well in your flock. Might make the Leghorns a little nervous, but then, everything does, right? Call Marans Chicken Club of America (MCCUSA) to find a local SOP breeder, they were great helping me. Jersey Giant is tough to find from good breeders, but if you’re ok with smaller hatchery birds, they will bulk up your flock nicely (think 8-10 pounds). Marans can be great meat birds (7-9 pounds) IF you get quality birds from a MCCUSA breeder. American hatchery Marans are mostly being bred for eggs, and are losing size in a hurry.
Thanks so much for the insight!
Ive looked into marans and actually have one on hand but is still pretty young. I'm hoping he will be a big boy
 

NatJ

Songster
Mar 20, 2017
400
893
146
USA
Are you planning a cross-breeding project, or just want a flock of various heavy layers? If you're cross-breeding, do you want large mature size, or do you want fast-growing birds so you can eat meaty cockerels at a young age?

If you want good laying hens, and roosters that are meaty enough to butcher early, you could do some experiments. Buy a batch of pullets that includes several dual-purpose breeds. At some age (maybe 6, 8 or 10 weeks), weigh them all. Keep the half that a heaviest then, and eat the smaller ones. The pullets that grew faster will probably produce sons that also grow faster. Anytime I've had a mix of breeds, there have been a few that stood out for faster growth, and some for larger mature size. For example, a White Rock will outgrow both a Leghorn and a Brahma for the first few months, although the Brahma will eventually be larger.

Specific breeds that I can think of:
Plymouth Rock (Barred, White, etc): medium-meaty, fast growth, fairly good layers.

Dark Cornish: if bought from a hatchery, they might be a good balance of meat and egg laying ability, but will probably grow slower than some other choices. "Good" ones from a breeder will be much more meaty, but will probably be really awful at laying.

Cornish Cross (if you can keep them alive long enough.) Of course they're bred to grow fast and get big, but at least their mothers are also bred for good egg laying ability (because you need lots of eggs in order to sell lots of chicks.) So they should have the genetics for good laying, too. Probably more useful to cross with other breeds, rather than use by themselves.

Of course a bigger bird eats more food, which is why the scrawny ones are usually used for commercial layers, so you'll have to balance what's important to you.
 

VictoriaTemple

Songster
Aug 27, 2018
341
725
152
Southern Chester County, PA
Truthfully, I would stay away from Cornish Cross. The ones available for public purchase are terminate, as in the best they will ever be, and their children (if any, they are notoriously bad layers) will never breed true. Think of them like mules: You cross a horse and a jackass to get an animal with superior attributes that serve your needs now, but cannot be passed to its offspring. Grocery store chicken is all Cornish Cross type, but from patented bloodlines and highly structured breeding programs, and these birds are NOT available to the public. Cornish Cross is also disease prone, and overall so unhealthy I refuse to raise them. It’s SO tempting in the spring when chicks are plentiful, I instantly start envisioning delicious roasted chicken coming out of the oven and tell myself “I’ll only buy a handful of meaties”, but when I look hard at those chicks in the bin, different visions come to mind, of my beloved heritage breed feather babies succumbing to salmonella, Marek’s, or one of any number of ailments to which Cornish Cross have little immunity. CX is bred to be terminate, the ultimate “ends justify the means” in chicken breeding, and if we humans intend to continue requiring so much meat yield from 1 bird, the only way really is to stop terminate breeding and develop the same attributes over many generations of selective breeding, as the heritage breeds were developed before the Industrial Revolution.
 

NatJ

Songster
Mar 20, 2017
400
893
146
USA
Truthfully, I would stay away from Cornish Cross. The ones available for public purchase are terminate, as in the best they will ever be, and their children (if any, they are notoriously bad layers) will never breed true. Think of them like mules: You cross a horse and a jackass to get an animal with superior attributes that serve your needs now, but cannot be passed to its offspring.
Not quite. A mule is typically infertile because of the way the chromosomes of the two species work together (or don't work), while a Cornish Cross is still a pure chicken, and just as fertile as any other (unless it's too fat, which is admittedly normal for them.) It still carries whatever genes it received from its parents.

In general, I agree with that listing of their disadvantages. I would not use them directly for layers, and I would not expect them to breed true, but there are some situations when I would consider using them in a crossbreeding program. I though there was a chance they might work for the OP, depending on how much heavier OP wants their chickens to get.
 
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