~Help Please~ Why Not A Duel? Layer? Meat? Fancy?

Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by PineappleMama, Dec 31, 2009.

  1. PineappleMama

    PineappleMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    So over on the Henderson's Chart...
    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html for any who don't know

    It shows all sorts of great info. Breed pics, types, info on egg size, color, number, even opinions on disposition.

    But, I want to know WHY? Obviously RIRs are considered good layers because they produce nice eggs in good numbers.
    That's easy. But why are they considered Duel Purpose while Ameraucana (for instance) are not, only layer?

    They mention eggs size and number, but well Polish for instance can hit the '4 egg mark' and yet are not considered layers while Lamona which hits the 2 mark is considered a duel purpose, thus including good layer in the title?

    What is the difference between Layer Only, Duel Purpose, Game, Bantam? How do they determine these things?
    Is it based on the amount of meat a bird puts on? Flavor (are some just FUNKY?)? Texture (some stringy = bad)?
    Why are bantams considered a whole different type? Obviously they're little, but does that mean you cannot eat them or their eggs?
    If it's based on FCR seems like the little ones would do better than the big guys, but I don't know.

    Yes, I realize I have a horrid habit of overthinking things, but darned if this isn't just bugging me no end.

    So, we get to MY QUESTION FOR YOU!!

    For folks who've had these breeds, do you agree with how Henderson Typed them?
    Disagree? If so how would YOU (an experienced person) have typed them instead, and why? Appreciate any info.

    Breeds Listed As LAYER: Ameraucana, Ancona, Andalusian, Appenzeller, Araucana, Buttercup, Campine, Catalana, Fayoumi, Hamburg, Lakenvelder, Leghorn, Marans, Minorca, Penedesenca, Redcap/Derbyshire, Spanish White Face/Ear/Clownface,

    Breeds Listed As DUEL PURPOSE: Australorp, Barnevelder, Braluna*, Buckeye, Chantecler, Delaware, Dominique, Dorking, Faverolles, Holland, Houdan, Java, Jersey Giant*, La Fleche, Lamona, Langshan*, New Hampshire Red, Orpington*, Plymouth Rock, Rhode Island Red, Sussex, Welsummer, Wyandotte

    Breeds Listed As GAME: Aseel, Cubalaya, Malay, Modern/English Game, Old English, Sumatra

    Breeds Listed As BANTAM: D'Anver, D'Uccle, Booted/Sabelpoot, Dutch, Japanese, Rosecomb, Sebright

    Breeds Listed As FANCY: Cochin, Crevecoeur, Turken, Orloff, Phoenix, Polish, Silkie+, Sultan, Yokohama

    Breeds Listed As MEAT: Cornish

    *Says 'formerly meat' now why is THAT? Has the whole breed changed to where they aren't good for meat anymore? Or has the standard that determines what qualifies as a decent meat chicken changed to the point where Bralunas no longer qualify? Kinda like Pluto no longer being a planet? Or has the breed changed so much in egg laying that now they have to also be considered a good layer, or is it just that the standard for a 'good layer' has been lowered? Or is it based on FCR? Very confusing!!

    +Silkie didn't actually list a type, just went on and on about appearance, so I'm guessing Fancy, feel free to correct!!!
  2. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    I think the categories are largely arbitrary. Layers will produce eggs in good number and size; meat birds will mature early and grow large; dual purpose breeds will do a bit of both. ("Duel" purpose makes me think of cock fighting and that's not good!)

    Many breeds were historically used for both meat and eggs, but the advent of specialty crosses in the meat industry has meant that in many cases the old dual purpose breeds have been bred for eggs (or at least not selected for meat qualities) for decades now and have lost some of their size and early maturity. Delawares, for instance, were used in the broiler industry in the 1940s, but the Cornish Crosses replaced them and when they were no longer used as commercial broilers, breeders no longer focused on size and early maturity. If you go out and buy some Delaware chicks, they are unlikely to grow to the size you would want in a broiler. The meat will be of fine quality, there just won't be as much of it as you would want.

    Even within a single breed, there could be lines that are good for meat rather than eggs or the other way around. I guess that's the case for other animals, too, but it seems to me to be more prevalent in chickens.

    You can eat any breed (even bantams) and any breed will produce eggs (else they wouldn't survive) that can be eaten.

    As far as personalities go, from what I have read, any breed can produce good and bad chickens; the descriptions are only tendencies and are anecdotal at best. For every breed that is noted as aggressive you will find an owner who swears they are the friendliest breed, likewise for every docile breed you will find an owner who says their [docile breed] rooster was the meanest they ever had. I think that there is a lot of nurture that combines with a chicken's nature to produce personality.

    ETA: In the show world, hens are not checked for how good they lay. There is a difference between show quality or category and practical use.
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2009
  3. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    Also... I was considering just getting EE's and being done with it, rather than 1 of this 1 of that...
    Wasn't planning on eating them, but since it was brought up... can you eat EEs?
    Don't think I've seen anyone say so but... well I'd rather ask then not know.

    4 EE is the same as one of this and one of that -- EE are not a breed...

    Yes, you can eat EE, any breed really, it's just a matter of how much meat will be on the bones.

    For adult chickens, heat is more of an issue than cold, especially where you live. They'll need shade, they'll want a dust bath, and in the winter they'll want a draft-free coop. (I have a friend who has some "free range" chickens that still refuse to enter the coop at night, preferring tree branches, even though it is December in Maine. But, I wouldn't want to be them on a cold and windy night.)

    For chicks, the rule of thumb is 95 degrees during the first week and then 5 degrees lower each week after that. But, many of us have had 4 week old chicks in unheated coops when the nighttime temperatures dip into the 40s. I have 11 week old chicks right now that have done just fine without heat for a couple of weeks and it has dropped below zero a couple of nights recently.​
  4. feetsoup

    feetsoup Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 17, 2009
    Those divisions are all about what purpose the bird was/is bred to serve. A good egg layer is selected to produce a lot of good-sized eggs. A good meat bird is selected to gain weight relatively quickly and finish to a large size. A dual-purpose is (ideally) selected for both. I think size seems to be the usual difference between a strictly egg-laying breed and a dual-purpose breed. Sure you could eat an egg breed, but likely they won't be nearly as big or meaty (the breeds with that distinction seem to top out at only 5 lbs), so it's kind of a waste of time if meat is a goal of yours. As to why you don't see more strictly meat breeds, I think it is because aside from the lonely cornish, almost any utility breed of chicken (which bantams and fancies really aren't geared toward - hence the distinction) will give you a decent number of eggs, particularly since even among "dual-purpose" breeds, hatcheries seem to be selecting for egg production, not really meat, like Tim said. You have to find someone breeding for a good carcass if you want the best that breed has to offer for that purpose.

    Basically, you could eat a small egg-layer breed or gather a scant few eggs from a cornish, but why would you bother? You wouldn't get much.

    A fancy breed or a bantam, even if happens to be a good layer, is not selected for its laying ability. It is selected for its looks or size or a particular physical trait, so that's why it gets put in that category even if it by chance happens to be a good egg layer.
  5. PineappleMama

    PineappleMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    Hmm, so no experience where you think the bird you had just wasn't great at ___ so you think they'd be better labeled as ____.
    IE My Catalanas weren't the best layers, but boy were they tastey so I think they fit into Dual Purpose rather than just Layer.

    As y'all said, there are exceptions to every rule, but I like experience-based research, in addition to book-based. If ten people tell you a book is wrong, then maybe, just maybe it is. *shrug*

    Originally I was thinking of doing the 4 (max where we are) hens in the backyard, and more than likely still will. But, finally getting a timeline for hubby's graduation/certification has me fretting over future living, roughly a year from now. He cannot get a Master's where we are, period. Of the six schools that he could go to I think UNT, Denton, is the most likely based on location (closest to all our family), tuition, weather (can't stand the smog of Houston for example). ~of course that is contingent on him getting a job there but for the sake of argument let's assume he does- If we're going to move there, away from kin, out to the boonies (Denton isn't tiny but it is not smack in the middle of DFW either) than why not at least look into some land. And if I'm thinking about land then I need to be thinking about how much. And if I'm thinking about how much then I'll need to know what I plan to (at least try to) do with it. If I just want a handful of chickens then the small lot we're on now would be plenty. But, if I'd like to raise meat chickies I'll need more. Or a cow. Or a sow. Or ducks. Or turkeys. And so on. That's a LOT to research, but it may keep me from going mad in this icky weather so I'll take it. So, I started with the chicken idear. Because I'm already interested in chickens, and hoping to start a little flock. If I have an idea of what I'd like someday, then it would be wise to start with that breed. Then I'd already be experienced with them. And expanding would be easier if I've only got the one breed to deal with. No keeping breeds separate. If that makes any sense. So if someday I'd like to have eggs and meat and not have to buy birds every year, then I would need to look to dual purpose I think. So, that's why I was reading and reading and reading all the Meatie threads. And it seemed that Cornish was THE meat bird. And then there were Rangers, but they've not been added to Henderson's chart yet. But, people talk about both of those not being sustainable. Not like a dual purpose breed anyways. So, I sorted the list. And the Ameraucanas that I'd just love to have (or EE's I'm not picky but for breeding it makes more sense to pick a breed and stick to it in my mind) are just flat out NOT considered meat birds. Not at all. Not even enough to qualify as Dual Purpose. So I got to wondering if there was a reason. Like does that blue gene just add a funky flavor, or are they stringy, or is it just that they aren't chunky butts like some? Hence this topic. Looking at the DPs, based on egg size, number, and hardiness I think I've narrowed it to Delawares, RIRs or NHRs, but I'm very very interested to hear what people think. Of those three and any others.

    Oh and Duel Dual wise, I can't help it... pen is mightier than the sword popped in my head and I was trying to figure out the wording. So, a duel between Layer vs Meat vs Dual just popped in the noggin. Alas I am WAY too easily amused. Sorry if it summoned up bad images though I was just thinking of words, not the actual birdies!!
  6. Soccer Mom

    Soccer Mom Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2009
    West of Crazy
    Heh. I did have images of battling birds when I read "duel."

    I think the categories go deeper than any bird that lays can be considered a "layer" breed. My Polish hens lay just fine, but it takes two of their little eggs to make up a single standard sized bird egg, but they still eat alot and I wouldn't say they only eat half as much as my bigger chickens. So if I was looking for a breed just to provide me with enough eggs for my family, they wouldn't be an economic choice.

    TimG is correct when he says that formerly meat birds have been bred away from that original purpose or are just not as viable for feed to meat conversion ratio compared to the Cornish crosses.

    I say choose whatever breed appeals to you. I enjoy my silly Polish girls and even if they don't provide me with meat (seriously, they would be about a mouthful and hardly worth the effort of plucking) and even if their eggs are too small for an omlette, they have a place on my farm because they bring me pleasure.

    Oh, and I commuted from DFW to Denton for many years. Of course it was North Texas State University and not University of North Texas when I went there, but that makes me feel old and I'm gonna shut up now.
  7. PineappleMama

    PineappleMama Chillin' With My Peeps

    LOL, I made the mistake of pointing out that I'd been debating my fav. Transformers character for 20 years...
    Didn't dawn on me at the time, but after a minute I was like "holy crap, I remember things from 20 years ago" OY.

    I hear you on the polish, they are so silly that I smile when I see them. But I'd worry myself sick if I had any. Fearing that some critter could sneak up no them and they couldn't see, that sort of lunacy. But then, I'm a fretter by nature. *shrug*

    I suppose I could get NHRs and Amer and just not breed the Amer except for cute chickies and eggs...
    Hmm. I donno. Still some time yet to ponder the question.
    Ah, but would I keep an Amer Roo, or just a RIR... oh yes, many many questions yet to go.

    Very much appreciate y'all chiming in. [​IMG]
  8. Freeholder

    Freeholder Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 23, 2008
    Klamath County, OR
    Easter Eggers (and probably Ameraucanas, although I haven't had any of those) are on the light side, a bit bony and lacking in meat to be considered a real dual-purpose bird, although, of course, you certainly COULD eat them -- and I have eaten a few.

    In your climate (Texas, I gather) single-comb birds should do fine, so you should probably select either New Hampshires or Delawares, depending on which appeals most to you. Or, it seems like some lines of Buckeyes are pretty good layers, and they are (based on pictures of carcasses) better meat birds than any of the other dual-purpose breeds. Check out the Buckeye thread here.

  9. TimG

    TimG Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2008
    I'm a bit confused at why you really care about meat qualities if you are limited to 4 hens. Perhaps you will eventually eat them, but after a year and a half (or however long you keep them for laying) you're going to be slow cooking any breed. From an economic standpoint, the difference between a 3 pound and a 5 pound carcass in the end will be overshadowed by the difference in egg production (and the food required for upkeep of the larger birds).

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