Choosing my layers and meat chickens


9 Years
Jun 11, 2010
I'm just finishing my coop and I need to order some chicks. I've got it sectioned out with separate runs - a little less than 1/3 for the layers and the rest for the meat chickens. I need some help choosing the breeds to order. I have been reading everything I can on raising chickens, but there is so much information out there (much of it contradictory) that it is making my brain hurt. For the meat chickens I don't want any of the commercial cornishX-type crosses - watching chicks die of leg and heart problems doesn't sound appealing to me. I want a breed or two of meat chickens where I can keep 8-10 hens and a rooster over the winter (central Illinois winter - insulated shed for coop). These guys would be my breeding stock, and their offspring would be the meaties.

My wife and I have been looking at a number of varieties - NH red, RI reds, americauna, maran, plymouth rock, sussex, wyandotte - but that's a big list. The reds would be the meat chickens, but I know there is a lot I don't know... could somebody help out a beginner?
Just a thought. Right now Meyers Hatchery has a special going - 25 rainbow layers for $25. They really could be any standard breed - brown/blue/white egg layers. It's a great way to get a variety at a very great price.
Hi, i think Jersy (sp?) giants would be a good chocie, cornish (i am not shure how will they lay) wyandottes , would also make a good choice
these breeds could both be used for meat and eggs
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I think the problem with Jersey Giants is that yes, they get very big, but they take long to do it, and using them for meat chickens will be putting tough birds in the freezer. You will need to find a bird that matures and gains weight quickly if you want to put a nice tender bird on the table.
JG's are horrible meat halo said by the time they get enough meat on them to eat they are so tough we ate 1 of our former flock that was all we needed
.We also found most of the heavy breeds don't have hardly any breast meat on them by the time they are borderline too tough other than a stew pot so we decided to go the Cornish route.They are self sustaining and have a nice amount of meat on them.
Our favorite layers are Plymouth Rocks of all colors(halo's blue's are awesome) also sex links.We also have lots of leghorns so we have eggs in the summer..climate is a real consideration when picking "your" best layers my dh is from Carlyle so I know your area..any of the breeds you listed will do well for you there..those americauna are Easter Eggers if you get them from any hatchery and most back yards-may or may not lay green eggs but are great birds.I would also suggest Delaware they lay larger eggs than some on your list if you want big eggs.
Your variety list really isn't that long.I strongly suggest a few of all of them and then you can weed out the ones you don't want.
If you are going to raise your meaties yourself from your own breeind stock, then I would suggest that you raise hybrids so the chicks will have hybrid vigor and grow bigger. I would think a good cross to give you both big cockerels for butchering and good laying hens for laying would be a RIR rooster on Light Sussex hens if you can get some, delaware hens should also work well too. That would give you white roos and red hens that you could sex as chicks and be able to tell the pullets from the cockerels. Another good meat cross I would think would be a nice, big breasted dark cornish roo on barred rock hens, that would also give you sexlinked chicks. Or if I was going to raise birds to be efficent meat birds at as young of age as possible, I think you should get some of those cornish rock hybrids and raise them just like you would regular chicks, Ive done this before an they grow fine and fast, and butcher all but a few hens of those, ( however many you think you will need) and keep those hens and breed them to any other large fowl heavy breed roo ( I used a Buff Orp and RIR on mine) and their chicks grow nearly just as good as the original hybrids did and were A LOT heavier and meatier than regular large fowl breeds. So if I was wanting birds just for meat procution, that is actually the cross I would use.

As for the layer hens, just what ever breeds from the ones you listed should be fine, I would also suggest maybe some Black and/or Gold Sexlinks.

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