Can egg layer birds produce meat birds???

Farm Chic

In the Brooder
11 Years
Aug 21, 2008
Davisburg, MI
Newbie question - sorry if this has been answered but I did look in many posts but have not been able to find the answer to my questions!

I am trying to sustain a very simple and self sufficient lifestyle and I have decided to make it even more self sufficient by raising my own meat birds! I currently have a polish roo, silkie roo (which is the dominant one) and a old english bantam roo with many egg layers - silver/golden laced wyandottes, plymouth barred and/or dominiques (look way too similar to tell difference), australorp, buff orp, cochin, polish and a couple bantams and one silkie.

Knowing that I am all about free range birds, even if they are for meat, if it takes longer for the bird to reach dress weight, I am okay with that, i would almost prefer that because it sounds like the meat tastes better and is better for you the longer it takes and the feed costs are not too important to me. So with that said, What If:

1. I incubated my large hens eggs, could these produce good tasting meat birds?
2. I incubated the bantam eggs, could they produce good tasting meat birds?
3. Would I need to separate certain birds with a certain roo to get a good tasting bird?
4. Would it be worth it to use my own?

If using my birds is not a good idea, what other birds would be better for me to invest in? I do not want cornish, as I am not looking for the fastest growing bird. I want the best tasting bird, healthiest bird to eat, healthiest bird to raise and the birds can be all different varieties, if that is a possibility. Meaning, I don't have a preference over white vs dark meat, more breast vs leg, etc. Any advice or input to my questions and/or in addition to what might not have been mentioned is greatly appreciated!

Thank you!
Some of the birds that you listed are considered duel purpose meaning they are good for eggs and meat, such as the Australorp and the Orphingtons.
all chickens are harvestable for . . . chicken! Taste differs like you said due to dark or white meat predominance, age (affects texture more than taste) exercise (again affects texture more than taste) and feed - this one is debatable.
Now one thing most who raise their own meat concern themselves with is the cost of feed to meat conversion. You said this is not a concern for you however plain economics indicates the one that grows the best on the least feed will make the most self sufficiant.
If it makes you feel good to use your own then I would say use your own!
Given the breeds you have I would use the silkie roo over your barred birds - IF he can do the deed with them. Hatch out all of their eggs and save the biggest for breeding stock each year.
Thanks for the feedback! What I meant about the feed cost is that if my birds go past the 8 week mark, I don't mind that at all. I know that for some, the cost is important, hence why they go for a faster growing bird. Yes, cost is important but not so important to cause me to want the fast growing birds to raise. I prefer quality, not how fast I can produce the meat. Economics is always in play, hence why I free range my birds and give them all scraps that are edible to them.

What kind of meat does the autralorp and buff orp produce? Dark? White? Taste chart - good? Better? Best?

With the roos you have, I'd look for another roo. None of these are really very good for breeding meat birds. They'll taste fine, but will be teeny little things, and most likely scrawny besides. So you'll be raising a small amount of tasty meat, on a pile of bones. But if you're like me, if you need to get rid of a roo, you'll want to cook him up, regardless, rather than waste the meat. Any chicken you raise will be delicious, if prepared properly, (whole new subject, you might want to read up on cooking methods for dual purpose and other older birds) whether they're bantam or large fowl. Some will have a lot of meat, some very little. I like to have a lot!

You might want to look for a heftier roo to sire your meaties. Buckeye, standard Cornish (not the fast growing hybrids, but a true, pure bred standard Cornish. I like the dark ones, the white laced reds are nice, too. With the selection of hens you have, any females you hatch out should make decent layers.

To get the crosses you want, yes, you'd need to only have the hens bred by the roo you want to sire the chicks. The easiest way I've found, because I let my birds free-range, is to lock up the roos that I don't want to breed. That way, all the hens and the breeding roo still get to free range, and have the nutritional benefits from that, Makes for healthier chicks, IMO.

I recently got rid of all roos (I cull by sending them to freezer camp) except the one in want to use for breeding. One of them will be in the crock-pot this evening. I still have 2 young Buckeyes I didn't really want to breed fro, but Now I'm thinking of keeping one of them, for a while anyway. That'll give me 2 roos for my 41 hens. 1 Buckeye, 1 dark Cornish.

They're all gonna have both white meat and dark meat. The proportions will vary a little, but dual purpose birds tend to have a more even balance of light and dark.

Good luck, hope it all works out for you. Oh, and here's a handy chart you may find helpful.
It's just a loose general guide, not the chicken bible, so don't get too hung up on it. But it's a handy and interesting place to start, and when you see a breed that sounds good, you can do further investigation into that breed.
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The funny thing is that while the CX grow faster and can be butchered at a goal weight in a faster period of time; they are not really cheaper to feed, they eat at least three times the amount of a standard bird in a third of the time . . . no savings really.
As far as chickens go, breast meat is white, legs and thighs are dark. I think silkies may have dark breasts and I know they have dark skin, but that is all I have heard that is different. Size and tenderness are usually what is in question when people look at different breeds for meat. The CX are tender because they are younger at butcher age and they exercise very little. An autrolorp is going to produce a surprisingly small amount of meat for a full grown bird, but you should butcher one just to see. Orp's produce an amazing amount of feathers lol! but some people do consider them dual purpose, again you should butcher one to see for yourself if it is what you like/want.
Out of your line up your rocks are going to produce the most meat and your silkie the darkest. personally I wouldn't use any of them for meat but that's because I already tried that back when I first started and the results were not what I preferred. But chickens are fast growing and easy to replace which is why I suggest trying out different Ideas for yourself . . . it's a really fun learning curve!
The direction I went after a few years of experimenting (just sharing, not trying to influence you) was to decide that I think Dual Purpose stinks. To me it seemed to be giving up to much and I found it easier to have a few thrifty laying hens who I can count on to lay eggs rain or shine for years. They are my pets and I have no desire to eat their skinny butts even when they get old, and they know they are part of the family as much as the dog and cat do. Then I have a small flock af self breeding free ranging meat birds, they are as healthy as they layers but grow faster and can be butchered around 15 weeks. I did not wind up needing more birds, just a devided flock. Just my opinions
Have you thought about getting a standard cornish roo (not cornish x), mating him to your laying hens and hatching them? Then growing the chicks out to what ever weight you want and see how that goes for your home breed meaties. In order to have an on going operation you will have to maintain a separate blood line for your layers and cornish for later generations or simply buy/trade for them as you need them.
There are plenty of people who hatch chickens in the spring, tractor/free range them for six months, harvest the six month-old males and the 18 month-old females and repeat. (Keeping a rooster or two over the winter, of course.) I have visited a family who does this with Brahmas and have heard of people doing it with other breeds (Buckeyes come to mind). It is certainly a viable plan even if it might cost more than buying eggs and meat at the grocery store.
wow, thanks! I definitely do not want another roo! 3 is plenty for me (and my neighbors!)!! I just wanted to see if it was worth it to use my birds vs buying chicks from a hatchery. It sounds like it would be easier to do just that, go to a hatchery!

My DH and I decided to grow our own meat birds for many reasons but most importantly, we came to this decision for our son's health. Not that he is unhealthy or ill, its just that we have been a vegetarian family for the past 10 years, raising my son as one since birth and he is 9 and my husband has been one for 17 years and I for 10. I do a lot of my own canning of veggies and fruits, bake my own goods like breads, etc. I have been doing some research regarding the soybeans and how they are processed and used in vegetarian foods that may be harmful to the development of males. So, my concern has always been to make sure that what my son (and us) eat is healthy, organic if possible and trying to avoid processed foods as much as possible! We want to take this a step at a time and we felt that introducing chicken would be the easiest. Mostly because we can't have pigs or cows!! One day we will, but not yet.

So with all of that said, I don't want just the normal standard meat bird. I want to have the best quality meat bird! I guess what I'm inquiring is I don't want a cadillac, I want the mercedes/jaguar of meat birds! Sorry for the car metaphor but if I'm going to give my son meat, which he's never had, I want it to be the best!

Which meat bird is better, male? female? When I order, do I order all males? females? mix? I don't need any more layers, have plenty of those. I know that the growth time is different between the male and female, that doesn' really matter to me.
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