dual purpose versus leghorns

Discussion in 'Chicken Breeders & Hatcheries' started by debp, Jan 13, 2014.

  1. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Note: I just divided this question into two parts and posted it in more appropriate forums.

    I am about to get my first chickens and am trying to decide on breeds to try. I would like to try 2 or 3 breeds to start with about 25 birds. My goal is a healthy flock that will forage, hopefully free-range, during the day (I have the space, will need to see about predators) and produce eggs as well as meat for us.

    I was leaning toward straight-run dual purpose breeds like New Hampshire, Barred Plymouth Rock and Delaware, so that I can butcher most of the males for meat in the fall. I am aware that these will not be meaty birds like a cornish cross would be, but I would like to have good foraging birds that act like chickens, and for now would rather not use the highly efficient meat birds. A neighbor told me that my male birds will be lanky with virtually no meat at 5-6 months, and thought it not worth the effort. Her experience is with sex-link crosses she uses for eggs. Does anyone have experience with buying straight run dual purpose breeds, butchering the males for meat in the fall? What size birds do you get, and do you have to feed them separately from the pullets to get them to a reasonable butcher weight?

    If dual purpose straightrun doesn't make sense, and I have to get pullets, I might consider brown leghorns. Their flightiness might have some advantages - less emotional attachment might not be a bad thing when they quit laying or a predator gets one, better chance with predators, good feed to egg conversion?

    Finally, if I wanted to try both dual purpose breeds (straightrun) and brown leghorn pullets, would the leghorns coexist okay with the more docile dual purpose breeds?

    Thanks for any sharing any experience or insights you have.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  2. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Just noticed I posted this in the wrong place - meant to put it in chicken breeds. Is there a way to move this or recall and repost?

    I just divided this question into two parts and posted it in more appropriate forums.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    If you go to the meat bird section and cruise around some, you'll find threads with pictures of dual purpose carcasses. The first thing you'll probably notice is how little breast meat there is, the second will be how big the thighs/legs are! That's how most dp birds are built.
     
  4. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    We raise Cornish X every year, as well as farm-bred DP cockerels. We also have white Leghorns currently and have had brown Leghorns in the past, so I hope I can help!

    First, the DP issue. I personally have done both and really like the CX over the DP. We only do DP if we happen to have them around, so to speak. Your neighbor is right, there isn't that much meat on a DP bird. Here's a comparison of *just the bone-in breast* of a CX (two whole breasts in the package) vs. a cut up whole DP bird-- whole bone-in breast in the middle, with legs still attached to thighs arranged around the sides:
    [​IMG]

    The CX was processed at eight weeks, the DP cockerel at 14 weeks. Same feed for all. Hope that gives you an idea of the differences between CX and DP as far as dressed weight.

    As for the Leghorns, they'll be just fine. Out of our 77 layers right now, 12 or so are white Leghorns. They all get along, and I certainly don't seen any differences as far as how well Leghorns get along with other birds vs. DP breeds. Now, the Leghorns are much more likely to fly at your face when you go to pick them up, however. [​IMG] Here they are, all getting along. Oddly, the Leghorns like the snow more than many of my other girls.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2014
  5. debp

    debp Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks so much for the comparative photos. I can see why people raise CX in spite of their health issues and lack of foraging. I have read the next best at feed conversion is only 1/4 as efficient. Have you (or anyone) had any experience with the red rangers as meat birds? I will wait til next round of chicks to decide on specific meat birds.

    I just ordered 18 dual purpose (New Hampshire and Barred Rock) and 6 Brown Leghorns. I'm hoping they all get along as well as yours.
     
  6. popsicle

    popsicle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I agree that CX is the bird for meat. However, my chicken rearing practice is generally raising for eggs, with occasionally a bit of, "that hen is old/mean/molting etc. and I'm in the mood for some chicken" or "you know what, that one cockerel is louder than a frat party and I'd like some chicken-pot-pie." To me, raising CX means you gotta arrange your schedule ahead of time for processing day; whereas with DP you can process one or all birds whenever you have the motivation, need, time and energy.
     
  7. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    Well, you can do CX over a period of a couple of weeks. Do some at 6+ weeks for fryers and do some at 8-12 weeks for roasters. I don't process my own birds. I've done it, I can do it if I have to, but there's a USDA-inspected processor that does small custom batches within driving distance for me, so I let them do it.

    @debp , CX can forage. They are much less disgusting if they're given 10sqft per bird of space like a layer vs. the crowded 1.5 sqft recommended in old-fashioned poultry books for meat birds. I raise mine in large outdoor pens on grass with lots of space and have never had any health issues. They do run around (chasing butterflies) when they have enough space to do so. Aoxa has some video up on BYC of his/her CX free-ranging with a laying flock and a bunch of goats! When they're allowed to range, they also have a great rich flavor like a DP bird. I think if you treat CX like animals instead of like meatpops they do quite well. For me, spending twice as long and paying lots more money per pound of meat just to use DP birds that I can't just pull out of the freezer and cook the way I want to isn't a very good proposition.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2014

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