Hatching Dual Purpose - Questions

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
2,252
8,209
542
Montgomery, TX
I’m wanting to try to hatch some dual purpose birds and see how I like the process of raising them to slaughter. I’m in this currently to know where my food comes from, but not for cost or self sufficiency yet. I’d like to try it out with some birds that I could eventually breed and hatch my own to reduce the overall costs of the project since I’ll be paying someone to butcher the birds.

I’m hatching some eggs for Easter and want to get some dual purpose eggs too.

I have some preliminary questions....

What’s the earliest youve slaughtered a dual purpose bird? What was the breed?

I’m trying to avoid a lot of loud cockerels right now. I live within 500 feet of neighbors on either side of my property, each is within 100 feet of my coop space, and I have restrictions on nuisances. I’m relocating later this year, but want to use this experience to see what my needs for my next property are.

If I have to I could give away cockerels and just keep hens to slaughter age, but that seems a bit of a waste. I’d like to be able to do what I can to get birds to slaughtering age so that I can determine if this is something I want to regularly do. Ideally I could find a breed where I can still have some substance around 14-16 weeks or so so I can be slaughtering by the time the neighbors get annoyed with the crowing.
 

wleigh1021

Songster
Jan 16, 2016
278
426
171
New Jersey
I slaughtered EE crosses and purebred delawares meant to grow out quickly both around 18 weeks. Still not a lot of meat on them at that point, and they were all having crowing contests with each other throughout the day.
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
5 Years
Apr 9, 2014
2,736
11,137
632
N. California
It's difficult to get true dual purpose breeds anymore. What sold as dual purpose by hatcheries (Sussex, orpington, delawares, etc.), have actually been bred through the years to be less meaty and better egg layers. Even breeders are often selecting for plumage and egg color rather than meatiness. I've been struggling to find true heritage, dual purpose birds myself.

The reason for this is the rise of the hybrid "broiler" class of birds, which account for the vast, vast majority of chickens raised for meat. The result is the the meat quality aspect of traditional, dual purpose birds has been neglected as there really isn't a demand for them as meat anymore.

That being said, you can still raise and eat traditional dual purpose birds. Just be prepared for some small carcass sizes. I've eaten Easter Egg mutts, Orpington, Maran and Dorking cockerels ranging from 11 to 20 weeks of age. For frying or grilling, you're better off butchering around 15 weeks, even though they are still pretty small (3 lbs dressed), they are still tender. 15 weeks is usually when they start crowing and making a nuisance of themselves to the hens, so that is usually when they get butchered here.

If your goal it to truly have a self-sufficient dual purpose flock, I would look at a breed that also goes broody, so they can spare you the work of constantly incubating and raising new chicks. Orpington's, marans and dorking would all fit that bill.
 
Last edited:

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
2,832
4,189
351
North-Central IL
If you're wanting to process them at a decent size without much crowing, you really want to spend the money up front and get standard bred, breeder birds. Not hatchery birds. The hatchery lines are bred for fast maturity and early egg laying, which means you'll get males crowing by 12 weeks, which is really the earliest you should process if you want a decent carcass size. The hatcheries also aren't breeding them to be as large as the standards call for, in general. You'll spend the same amount for feed but get a smaller carcass.

I butchered my Barred Rock males at 18-20 weeks last spring, NOBODY was crowing yet. I heard one whimpy little crow out of the very last, oldest one I did. They averaged 4lbs dressed, I was pretty happy with them.

So, my advice is once you decide on a breed, reach out to local breeders that are breeding standard bred birds. Also known as breeding to the SOP (Standard of Perfection). Also known as show breeders.

Some good dual purpose breeds to consider for meat are Buckeyes, New Hampshire (note, many call them New Hampshire Reds, but technically Reds is not part of their true name), Plymouth Rocks (whites and barred tend to be larger, other varieties that aren't as popular are harder to find in good sizes), Dorkings, and good Marans. Delawares can be good as well, but they are much harder to find.
 

jolenesdad

Free Ranging
Premium member
Apr 12, 2015
2,252
8,209
542
Montgomery, TX
Thank you SO much. I found a nice breeder a few hours from me with Croad Langshans, which seem to be an interesting option. Any thoughts there?
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
2,832
4,189
351
North-Central IL
Thank you SO much. I found a nice breeder a few hours from me with Croad Langshans, which seem to be an interesting option. Any thoughts there?
If they're good representatives of their breed, they should make a fine start into dual purpose birds :) From what I can read on the breed, they're meant to be a large bird that grows quickly with full breasts, and also good layers.
 
Top Bottom