Breeding my own meat

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by snewman, Apr 14, 2008.

  1. snewman

    snewman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Ok, I should have read this whole forum before I posted my last set of questions. Now I still have a few, but haven't found exactly these answers. It seems that the opinion is basically that a cornish rooster can be crossed with most hens to produce a satisfactory meat bird. What about the other way around? Some other decent rooster crossed with a bunch of cornish hens?

    Or why not raise just straight cornish? Is there a drawback to purebred cornish that I'm not seeing?

    I've ordered an assortment of heavy-breed cockerels, that I'm now reading was probably a mistake, but I'm hoping there might be a dark cornish cockerel in there that I could keep. Should I then order some white rock or cornish hens to be able to raise my own next year?

    Also, it seems people prefer white or light birds for carcass appearance. Will a dark cornish rooster (crossed with, say, white rock hens) produced dark offspring with an unattractive carcass? Is there a white purebred cornish? I haven't seen them at any of the hatcheries I've searched.
     
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:No. Reverse crosses don't work.

    Quote:Yes. A purebred Cornish is not a Cornish Cross. They have a wider/longer breast than any other breed, but it's not nearly as thick as you get when crossed on other breed. Being a purebred, you're still going to need 15+ weeks to get them to the right size.

    Google "heterosis" and embrace the concept.

    Quote:Yes. Keep him. You can cross it on just about anything within reason. I have crossed my Dark Cornish on Barred Rocks, Speckled Sussex, Black Sex Links and Freedom Rangers.

    Now, beware one thing. The commercial raised broilers have parent strains which have been selected for over 50 years now. Their 'Cornish' and 'Rock' chickens are nothing like those you will find in the backyard. You still will get good results doing your own crosses, but they won't perform as well as commercial broilers. But, they are decent and I eat my own. I do not sell them, though, as it's not as economical as just raising broilers (I do Freedom Rangers).


    Quote:You will never, ever find a White Cornish for sale. The big hatcheries do not want you doing what you are doing and would rather sell you broilers. I've only ever found bantam white cornish and I've been searching for a couple years now for breeders.

    The offspring of a dark cornish will give you varying plumage colors. Mine are yellow, red, white... mostly mottled. I have some photos somewhere in here.

    The feather color makes no difference if you're eating them yourself. I even have customers who tell me that black feathered birds taste better and like the fact I don't raise Cornish Crosses. Of course, there's no truth to it, but it sells me more chicken so I agree with them.
     
  3. snewman

    snewman Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you so much! These are exactly the answers I was looking for. I was excited all weekend, and couldn't get online to ask my questions until I came back to work. It was really bugging me, wanting to plan ahead for next year but not being sure what to do (hence prematurely posting my questions before reading all the existing threads). I figured there was a reason I never saw white cornish anywhere.

    Fabulous, I really appreciate your response!
     
  4. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    All the chickens you get from commercial hatcheries have at some point been out-crossed to increase their laying abilities, since most birds are sold retail to be layers. That's why I have some hens who have these ridiculously long leghorn tail feathers on them, when they shouldn't be present in the breed at all. And remember, there is no such thing as a purebred chicken.

    So, my point is that in making your own meat birds, you are starting with stock that is already slanted towards the laying end of things. So it could take you may generations until you're really getting the formula correct. The good thins is that a chicken generation is a lot shorter than say a cow.
     
  5. Carolina Chicken Man

    Carolina Chicken Man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Perhaps you are sweating this too much.

    Commercial broilers have been specifically bred for years to be feed efficient and to maximize weight gain in the shortest amount of time. Is it the best chicken? I say no. It is the same with commercial layers, maximum laying with the least amount of feed.

    There are many breeds that are typical for the ideal backyard flock, good dual purpose birds. You won't get as many eggs as some breeds, and meat production will not be as good as some breeds.
     
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Well, you can only eat so much coq au vin per year. There are no purebreeds at all that work as meat chickens either economically or aesthetically. Not that it's not worthy to raise dual purpoes chickens, but they are simply oversold on their meat potential. It's nothing special. Raise broilers.
     
  7. Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay

    Lazy J Farms Feed & Hay Chillin' With My Peeps

    Look at it this way, egg production is a feminine trait where as muscularity is a masculine trait. By continually selecting for egg producing "dual purpose" chickens you are selecting against muscle. As a result the cockeral from these breeds will be less muscular and not appealing as meat birds.

    Follow Greyfields advice and go with birds bred for meat production.

    Jim
     
  8. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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  9. Carolina Chicken Man

    Carolina Chicken Man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a couple more ideas for you.

    My wife studied Animal Science at NC State University, and worked at it's Swine Education Unit for a few years after finishing school. The poultry unit at NC State ( I'm not sure if there is a university with an agricultural program near you) raises different strains of broilers for use in research ( feed trials, reproductive studies) etc. They produce more than they actually use, and different types show up at local auctions from time to time. She brought home 50 cornish x chicks one day, and they cost us nothing.
    NC State has been doing some specific studies on strains for pasture raising.

    At the NC State fair, you can buy different varieties that have been shown by 4H members. You can find good specimens to improve your flock quality.

    You could also talk to an agricultural extension agent and see if someone nearby is pasture raising broilers, and maybe you could get some advise ( or chicks ) there.
     
  10. Carolina Chicken Man

    Carolina Chicken Man Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:I grew up on a farm with a large "backyard flock" of free range, mixed breed, mutt chickens. We preferred our "coq au vin" with dumplings
     

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