Dumb Question about Meat Birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by WRVgirl, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. WRVgirl

    WRVgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    Zone 8a
    My husband really, really wants to kill and butcher a chicken [he grow up hunting and field dressing so I guess this is natural for him]

    I am raising English Orpingtons for eggs and cuddle companions, so I don't want him eating those [because they're my babies and I spent a pretty penny on them]

    What is the best eating chicken? I was thinking that I'd hatch him a few chickens to raise for the sole purpose of letting him kill and eat them.

    I'm still new to chickens in general so I don't know a whole lot about what's an eating chicken and what's a laying chicken and which breed would be better for growing to eat.

    Thank you.
  2. bluenkimchi

    bluenkimchi Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 13, 2012
    Any dual purpose breed, even your orpington is a dual purpose breed that can be use for table bird if it comes to that. I think people some people say Dorkings are very taste table birds and Marans.
  3. smilingcat

    smilingcat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 1, 2010
    Pacific Northwest
    If you don't want to get too attached to your bird, raise ones that grow fast. Like in 8 weeks or so from chick to a broiler size. And that would be meat specific hybrids. aka Cornish cross, Cornish X, meaties... Dual purpose birds such as marans, orphington, brahama takes too long to grow and you might get attached.

    Meaties grow so fast and poop so much, I think it would be hard for you to get attached. Your husband could start salivating after 4 weeks. Feed conversion is much better too so that the cost of the bird, buying, feeding, and general care will be less than brahama for instance. They take over a year to reach full size. 8 weeks or 52 weeks...

    You do not hatch meat specific birds. You just buy the chicks.
  4. RoostersCrow HensDeliver!

    RoostersCrow HensDeliver! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 11, 2011
    SE Michigan
    You could purchase dual purpose male chicks from the hatchery and grow those for 16-18 weeks or you could get cornish x that finnish out in 6-8 weeks. It all depends on your taste. I like the cornishX but some people absolutely hate them. I think you could try both and see what you like best.
  5. cutechick2010

    cutechick2010 Chillin' With My Peeps

    You can hatch any meat specific breed except for the Cornish X. Dark Cornish come to mind.
  6. WalkingWolf1

    WalkingWolf1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 15, 2012
    This is some work that was done with "Dorkings" that seems pretty interesting. https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/...e-pics-and-weight-of-our-last-dorking-rooster

    This is a thread on Freedom Rangers that I started. We have gotten to the point of raising out hens and roosters and have now hatched 2nd generations FR chicks. The FR hens are now penned off with a CornishX rooster. While not traditionally crossed, the FR and the CornX birds can be raised to POL and offspring can be raised from them.
  7. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You do have a lot of options but you are also putting some limitations that makes it harder to come up with a recommendation.

    You can eat any chicken, regardless of age or sex. The trick is knowing how to cook it and that depends on age and sex.

    The laying chickens are basically leghorns or commercial hybrids bred specifically for laying. These chickens are fairly small so there is not much meat, they have been bred to lay a lot of fairly large eggs, and they have a real good feed to egg conversion ratio. A lot of the sex links sold by hatcheries are these commercial hybrids. Not all, but a lot.

    The meat birds are basically the Cornish Cross, also called Cornish X or broilers. Freedom Rangers also fall into that category. The Cornish Cross are bred to be harvested at 6 to 8 weeks. You have to have pretty rigid feeding schemes to keep them past that age because the eat so much and grow so fast their body breaks down and they die. Freedom Rangers don't grow as fast but you still have to watch what they eat or they can also eat themselves to death.

    What a lot of us do is use the dual purpose breeds. It really does not matter which one. Many of us have a personal preference but that is just personal preference. They will all work. These chickens lay pretty well but don't have as good a feed to egg conversion as the Leghorn or commercial birds. They grow to a decent size for butchering but don’t grow as fast as the broilers and don’t have as good a feed to meat conversion rate. Some of the hatchery sex links are just dual purpose chickens bred from regular dual purpose chickens. A lot of people get confused about the sex links they get from hatcheries because they might be based on the commercial egg laying hybrids or they might be true dual purpose chickens.

    Others have mentioned various options. I’ll probably repeat some though I’ll try not to.

    You can buy dual purpose chicks from a hatchery or get them from a feed store and raise them specifically for butchering. I like to wait until they are at least 16 weeks old and prefer 18 to 20 weeks since they have better meat volume then. After 20 weeks they tend to slow down putting on meat very fast.

    You can get fertile eggs of dual purpose chickens and hatch them, again specifically to butcher. There are lots of ways to get fertile eggs. You can buy them on this forum, talk to people at your feed store to see if they know someone with fertile eggs, or find your state thread in the “Where am I” Where are You?” section of this forum and discuss it there. You should find someone in your area with fertile eggs.

    If you are willing to do it, you can get a dual purpose rooster and put him with your flock. That will give you fertile eggs you can hatch. You can either keep some of the pullets to add to your flock and let him butcher the roosters or just let him butcher all of them. I would not suggest this unless you have a fair amount of room. If you have put your hens into the minimum amount of space they may be too tight to really put a rooster with them.

    You can get an incubator to hatch the eggs and raise them in the brooder and all that. If one of your hens goes broody (not all do and not always when you want them to) you could get fertile eggs for her to hatch and raise. When a hen goes broody you have as while to get the eggs for her to hatch but it might be beneficial to have someone local lined up where you can get fertile eggs on a few days’ notice. Again, I would not let a broody hatch and raise with the flock unless I had more than the minimum of room.

    In any case, if you raise them you have to be willing to let him butcher them and one of you have to cool them. Are you capable of doing your part in that?
  8. WRVgirl

    WRVgirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 16, 2012
    Zone 8a
    Oh, I'm definitely willing to raise them, and I've hatched all of my personal chickens in our brinsea...I am just looking for something that grows fast, and grows for the purpose of eating [like the broilers you were talking about]

    If I go into the game knowing that if we don't eat them, they will die...I shouldn't have a problem.

    My problem lies in my bleeding heart, save all the animals nature...if I get attached to them, I won't be able to do that...like my Orps. I have them for eggs, I raised them from eggs for the sole purpose of letting them lay and keeping them as little pets, if I get chicks or eggs for the sole purpose of growing them to eat, I don't think I'll have a hard time letting the husband kill them.

    Thank you for all of the suggestions.
  9. Mohawk Chickens

    Mohawk Chickens Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 11, 2012
    Akwesasne, NY
    So. To recap: Buy broilers specifically for meat. They are ready for butchering between 8 & 12 weeks, some sooner. Feed enough to grow, but also allow to forage (free range) for themselves. I only ask this because I will be looking to buy for the spring. I have 9 hens and 2 roos right now for eggs. We lost one, she wandered and just never came home. [​IMG]Their old pen will be the meat-bird pen since it will only be used a cpl weeks a year.
  10. ramirezframing

    ramirezframing Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 2, 2011
    Knee Deep
    and if you get lazy like my DH you end up with meaties that are 25 lbs and not a year old yet. Most the hens died from egg laying, the last two roos had heart attacks on the roost. I have one hen (2 Ton Sally) who will be 3 come May. Shes my redneck turkey [​IMG] but I have managed to cross her to a BO and get 1 ton chicks. So talk to your hubby and find out how many he will be willing to do, so your not like me [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2012

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