Dual breeds worth it if only harvesting the cockerels?

Cazook

Songster
Nov 24, 2019
322
465
151
As per the title - are dual breeds worth it? Or do they just end up eating more food than laying hens and then not providing as much meat as chickens bred for meat only?

I noticed my one dual-breed has a tendency to put on weight in winter, while the other laying hens don't.
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
26,710
18,478
857
Southeast Louisiana
The hybrid laying hens are specially bred to convert feed to eggs extremely well. Some strains of Leghorns fall in that category. They are pretty bad as far as meat but are specialists for egg production. The Cornish X is also a specialist but for meat, not eggs. They are pretty bad as far as egg production. Nothing can touch the Cornish X as far as converting feed to meat. These assume you manage them to take advantage of that breeding. The dual purpose are not specialists but are generalists. They produce meat and eggs but not anywhere as efficiently as their specialists cousins.

Is raising dual purpose worth it for me? Absolutely. They fit my goals quite well. Is it worth it to you, I don't have a clue. I have no idea what your goals are or your value system. Your management techniques play a part. If your goal is how much meat will they pack on per pound or kilo of feed you buy, the Cornish X are probably for you as long as your management techniques match what is required to raise and process them.

The Cornish X do not suit me. I like to play with genetics in ways that they just don't work. I like to hatch my own eggs. I have to manage freezer space so I need flexibility in when I can butcher them. Mine forage for a fair portion of their food so my feed costs aren't as important as they are to some people. Eggs aren't that important to me, I give my excess eggs away. Size is not a hugely important criteria for me. There are only two of us so I can get two meals out of a small pullet, a large cockerel just means I get leftover chicken for lunch.

My dual purpose suit me just fine. But that doesn't mean they do you. That depends on your goals, conditions and management techniques. Rangers might suit you better than Cornish X, they do some people. We are all different. Your goals and preferences are what counts to you, not mine.

do they just end up eating more food than laying hens and then not providing as much meat as chickens bred for meat only?

Yes they do.
 

poultryprofessor

Chirping
May 19, 2020
63
145
68
Jeff City, MO
The difference between Cornish crosses and heritage breeds is not just growth rate, it is also efficiency. Cornish cross meat hybrids are extremely efficient. They can achieve feed conversion ratios below 2 lbs of feed per lb of gain. So, it isn't unrealistic to only use 10 lbs of feed to finish at 5 lb live weight. Dressing percentage is usually somewhere around 70%, so you get a 3.5 lb finished carcass.

Heritage breeds grow slower, but are also less efficient. Expect your heritage breeds to need about 4 lbs of feed per lb of gain. So, you'll need closer to 20 lbs of feed to reach that 5 lb live weight. Dressing percentage is usually lower (65-67%) with breast muscle in particular being less pronounced, so your 5 lb live weight will translate to ~3.3 lb finished carcass.

This isn't to say heritage breeds don't have some advantages. Cornish crosses require a high nutrient density in their diets and mortality can be high when they aren't managed well. Heritage breeds are more forgiving which may allow you to use less nutrient dense diets and some alternative feed ingredients. You also may be able to improve feed conversion in your specific lines if you select for it in your breeding.
 

CaroleW

Crowing
9 Years
May 13, 2011
383
2,572
356
AZ
Everyone's goals & situation are different and matching that with the correct type of bird is key, Ridgerunner's post explains that so well.

I have a small household and plenty of coop space and want to build compost/soil/pastures, and I enjoy eggs and meat. But I don't want to worry about a freezer losing power or spending a whole day processing a large number for freezer.

So I put extra non-layers (including a few pet or fancy fowl or extra roosters) to work making compost or scratching up ground before planting. Benefits are free chicken TV, an occasional pot of stew and from the egg layer dual purpose flock I can hatch for a sustainable flock. I don't expect big meat birds from my dual purpose breed, but it fits my needs & goals. I also have some efficient or egg layer specialists - they also meet my egg goals. I have processed a mean rooster (his job was predator alarm) from the egg layer flock as well.
 

lomine

Crowing
5 Years
Aug 7, 2015
2,839
2,913
356
Peyton, CO
I like to hatch and I let broody hens sit if they want to, so I end up with extra cockerels. I've also done CX just for meat. Every time I raise them I ask myself why I'm doing this again. They are messy and stinky no matter how much room you give them. Then I get to butchering, see those big carcasses, and remember why I keep doing it. I don't think you can go wrong with either method if it fits your needs.

Here's a picture I took a few years back on butchering day that I think illustrates the difference well. This is a 8 week old CX next to a 13 week mix breed cockerel (hatched from my duel purpose flock). I generally try to wait till 16 weeks for the extra cockerels but some of them go sooner because they are bothering the girls. But 3 weeks on this guy wouldn't have made too big a difference.

IMG_2699.JPG
 

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