How much luck have any of you had with what are considered the dual purpose breeds for meat? It seems like on this site nearly everyone is using Cornish cross. Is it the feed conversion or are the dual purpos just not very good eating?
most of us grew up eating the cornish crosses from the market, that's what we're use to. add to that the speed of the development of the cornish cross (also known as time to market), you pretty much can't beat them. Seriously, the cornish cross goes from coop to soup in 8 to 10 weeks. The dual purpose is going to be closer to 18 to 20 weeks before they are decent sized.
A typical cornish cross dresses out at 6lbs in that 8 to 10 weeks whereas a dual purpose might weigh in around 4lbs in 18 to 20 weeks. There are a few of us that use dual purpose because they are dual purpose. Keep them around until they don't lay so well anymore then they go to the frying pan.
Those of us who are older grew up not eating Cornish X's, they hadn't been developed yet when I was a cub. My folks raised our chicken, it was tender and delicious, we had fried chicken almost weekly.
Unfortunately, I don't know what breeds they raised, and my mom's long gone, and my dad's no longer able to tell me much of anything. I know we had some Dominiques, some white birds, and other colors. So we probably just raised whatever looked pretty to Dad, and had mutts when they hatched chicks.
Some dual purpose birds grow faster than others. Here's a chart, you can look at the hardiness/maturing column, and the weight/size column, and figure out which breeds look like your best bet. You want a bit of size, and early maturity, if you're like most people. Jersey Giants get huge, but take about a year to get there, so by then they're pretty tough. Look at the Delawares, Dominiques, New Hampshires, and Faverolles, on the chart. The roos get big enough to eat, fast enough to be fryers. They may only be small fryers, 2 1/2, 3 lbs, maybe, but better than a lot of others. What they mean by "early maturing" could mean 12 weeks in one bird and 20 in another. I'd contact some breeders and ask them.
As for the fry pan after they stop laying... no, I don't think so. Unless you want rubber truck tire chicken. The crock pot's the place for those older birds, the fry pan is for young birds, say 14 weeks at most, for most breeds. At 14 weeks, some of them may need to be soaked in buttermilk overnight after you cut them up,and then fry at a lower temp, to get them tender. Or slow roast, if you're not sure of tenderness. They will have a bit more "chew" than Cornish X's, but more texture isn't really a problem, IMO. That's my tastes. Others may disagree.
I'm planning to cross various breeds of hens with a Standard Cornish roo for the terminal sire. You may not want to jump right in with something like that until you have a little experience, and are more comfortable with raising chickens in general, before you start breed developing. It's a long, drawn out process. But I'm always going to have chickens anyway, as long as I'm able, and I'm not going anywhere, so I may as well try my luck.
What color standard Cornish are you going to use? I have a straight run of dark ordered - due to arrive the 17th. I'm thinking along the same lines ~ dual purpose. I have a couple of Delaware roosters too.. gotta get this all figured out! HA!
With Cornish X... I order the chicks... feed and care for them for 8 weeks... butcher them... put them to rest in a frozen state of suspended animation...clean out and disenfect the chicken chalet ...then spend the next 44 weeks opening the freezer, Bar-B-Que or fry them and enjoying their fantastic taste with a glass of wine with my family. No muss, no fuss, no worries of predators, heat, cold, rain, mud, feeding, cleaning and such untill next spring. Well worth it !!!
For us we enjoy raising the birds and all that goes with it. Sure it's no fun feeding them in the rain but that's the farm life we choose.
One thing I will always remember, is last year we had some people come to buy some birds their daughter was maybe 4 or 5 walked right up to a tom turkey taller than she was and gave him a big old hug. The sight of that was worth a lifetime of muss and fuss.