Heritage breed that has a decent amount of breast meat?

Tre3hugger

Let Your Freak Flag Fly
Mar 21, 2020
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NW Massachusetts
I read that thread Tre3hugger. I know you purchased New Hampshires but those weights on your birds are definitely Freedom Ranger. The hatchery you purchased from sell both.

"TLDR: 10 week old heritage NH cockerels weighing in at about 7 lbs. Pullets 5lbs."

No heritage chicken will have those weights at that age. You have the Freedom Ranger hybrid.
Also, the freedom rangers from Freedom Ranger Hatchery are not hatched at the same facility as the New Hampshires or Delawares, so an error in shipping is highly unlikely. My shipping box likely never entered a building where tehy hatch freedom rangers.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
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ALL I keep is the breast meat. This makes for a fast cleaning session...

All seem to have a similar narrow breasted carcass with tough drumsticks at ages with any size to them.

Is there a heritage breed that has a better amount of breast meat at 20 weeks (maybe 2# for the $5 of feed I have into the bird)?

You could try dispatching them at a MUCH younger age-- maybe 8 weeks or so.

People usually want more meat per bird, but that's partly because of the time required to process them. You're doing it really quickly, so you might still have a reasonable meat-for-labor rate if they were smaller. And since you say they are eating more food than the meat is worth, I don't see much other benefit in growing them longer.

And if you try them at 8 weeks, the leg/thigh pieces might be tender enough for you to use too. They are quick to cut off, so that won't add much to the time spend processing each bird.

I suggest you do a few at a young age, and then decide whether it's an improvement.
 

CNJ

Songster
Oct 12, 2020
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Did you compare weights, or just look at them?

Cornish reliably weigh more than other chickens that look the same size.
I picked them up and put no crow collars on them. I did not have a reason to weigh them. I could tell which was heavier just by carrying them and by how much food they eat.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,640
18,898
726
USA
I picked them up and put no crow collars on them. I did not have a reason to weigh them. I could tell which was heavier just by carrying them and by how much food they eat.

Picking them up and noticing which one is heavier works fine.

I've just seen plenty of chickens that were "bigger" because they were taller and fluffier, but much lighter in weight, so I wanted to be sure you weren't making that mistake.
 

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,076
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North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
Picking them up and noticing which one is heavier works fine.

I've just seen plenty of chickens that were "bigger" because they were taller and fluffier, but much lighter in weight, so I wanted to be sure you weren't making that mistake.
^^^ my dark brahma were like this - massive appearance compared to my other birds, but once the difference in feathering and body shape was accounted for, the weights were much closer than visual inspection would suggest.
 

Morrigan

Free Ranging
7 Years
Apr 9, 2014
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N. California
A lot of great posts already, but I will throw in my two cents.

I reached a point where I'd like for them to make sense financially.

Although it is very, very difficult for a home grown chicken to be cheaper than supermarket chicken, particular those sold at a discount or at a superstore like Costo, I think it can still "make sense" financially if you consider that your competing product really is speciality, humanly raised chickens, which where I live, are insanely expensive. Against that metric, I think my finances are pretty competitive.

The humanly raised part is important to me, and has a lot of value that is hard for me, at least, to put a price on. I also think the meat from heritage birds, raised in a more natural setting tastes much better. Even better tasting the the $40+ dollar gourmet "pasture raised", organic bird.

I can't handle the toughness of the hind quarters (by tough, I mean steak knife for a crock pot cooked bird)

A couple of thoughts here.

First, are you sure you are aging them to point where rigor has passed? For a CX culled at 8-10 weeks, two days is almost always fine, But for a 20 week old cockerel, it may take 3 or even 4 days. Unless you can freely move the drumstick it hasn't rested enough.

Second, I think you would enjoy the final product more if you culled at an earlier age, or altered your preparation. I've found my sweet spot for roasters to be 13 to 16 weeks. Reasonable in size, yet tender enough to fry or roast. If you want to wait until they 20 weeks for size purposes, you might want to pressure cook or pressure can them (I've pressured canned old hens, the meat is flavorful and falling apart). Alternatively, you can take all the meat and all the skin and run it through a grinder to make sausage. I do this every year and really enjoy the end product.

As far as what breed?

As others have pointed out, more "heritage" breeds, that come out of the major hatcheries are not very meaty. They have been bred for egg production, not meat properties.

If you have having trouble chasing down a good breeder, a quick and dirty work around is to get get a couple of slow broiler hens (Red Ranger, Freedom Ranger) and breed them to any decent sized rooster. I've been doing the last few years using a solidly sized, but by no means huge, Naked Neck Rooster and Red Ranger or Slow White Broiler hens. The offspring cockerels have been dressing out at 14 weeks at 4 to 5 pounds. Plenty tender and plenty of meat to make it worth your while. Best part, I simply collect eggs and put in an incubator and don't have the stress of ordering chicks on-line and hoping they make it though the post office alive.
 

Harp_Acres

In the Brooder
Dec 14, 2020
14
36
46
W. Washington
I read that thread Tre3hugger. I know you purchased New Hampshires but those weights on your birds are definitely Freedom Ranger. The hatchery you purchased from sell both.

"TLDR: 10 week old heritage NH cockerels weighing in at about 7 lbs. Pullets 5lbs."

No heritage chicken will have those weights at that age. You have the Freedom Ranger hybrid.
That is not true... those are pure american NH bred by Henry Noll for over 60 years... He started with an all American line and has selectively bred his line for meat as it was intended.. Henry is or was an awesome breeder, he is an amish farmer and Henry sold his genetics through Moyer's Chicks (the kosher kings and silver cross names). They had a slower growing red bird that came from Henry too.... He also sold genetics to a Canadian company and they called them Mistral Gris... Back in the 80's he was hatching 10,000 plus chicks a week to supply the eastern coast Whole Foods with meat birds.... He retired this year in his 80's due to health and has since sold his stock of Delawares, Rhode Island and New Hampshires off to the FR Hatchery...
 
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