Heritage Meat Birds

benjensen842

In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
29
0
32
Indiana
What traditional meat bird for chicken roasting would you recommend? I want to raise something that's not bred for a feedlot that's dependent on grain. I'm looking for something that'd do well foraging, eating grass, food scraps, old bread. Any breeds that'd be good for this?
 

sandspoultry

Everybody loves a Turkey
11 Years
Feb 10, 2008
2,121
23
211
Eastern NC
We have Dark Cornish, Buff Orpington, RIR's, and Cuckoo Marans as our "main" meat birds. The Marans aren't a heritage bird in this country but they are great table birds.

I would have to say the DC's are the best foragers and most independent - they are on the flighty side though. A heavy solid chicken, they weigh more than they look like they should.

The Buff's are laid back, large, forage good - good sitters and mothers

RIR's also large, not as calm as buffs, same as buffs for forage, sitters, mothers.

There are alot of other breeds out there as well, I'm sure others will chime in.

Steve in NC
 

brandywine

Songster
11 Years
Jul 9, 2008
381
6
131
Western PA
If you want hens for laying and cockerels for the table, get straight run Delawares. Nice big-bodied bird, great layers, nice temperaments, and good foragers.
 

lisahaschickens

Songster
10 Years
Feb 25, 2009
1,018
23
161
Vancouver, WA
I second the Buff Orpingtons and Cuckoo Marans (or, really... Orpingtons and Marans of any color). I am new to chickens, but I got those breeds partially because they are supposed to be good dual-purpose breeds... layers and meat birds.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,000
13,958
727
Southeast Louisiana
I was also going to say Delawares. They were meat birds before the cornish crosses took over, probably because the dress out prettier since they are white birds. No dark pin feathers.
 

MoodyChicken

Songster
10 Years
Feb 15, 2009
1,869
25
181
Northern California
Indian Games... big as Cornish but they're "wild smart." Hard to come by though. I've heard they taste delicious too. LF or bantam Cornish are good too. The bantams are surprisingly good layers of large eggs.
 

lisahaschickens

Songster
10 Years
Feb 25, 2009
1,018
23
161
Vancouver, WA
My reading on the topic has said for heritage breeds it takes about twice as long as the cornish-rock cross, so about 16 weeks, sometimes a little longer. Tastes so much better, though, and you're helping to keep heritage breeds around by creating demand
 

dancingbear

Songster
11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
2,836
38
191
South Central KY
If you don't plan on feeding them a high protein starter, they'll take a very long time to grow out.

If you do supplement the foraging with a high protein feed, you could get some good table birds in 16-20 weeks. Even 3 or 4 weeks with a high protein feed will do wonders for the size. The longer you go past 12 weeks, the less tender they'll be, but low-temp roasting for a long time, will still make a nice, tender bird, especially if you marinate in buttermilk first, and use something like a clay chicken cooker to roast them in.

If they turn out really tough, you can always cook them in a crock-pot or a pressure cooker.
 

benjensen842

In the Brooder
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
29
0
32
Indiana
So best to start them for the first few weeks with a high protein starter, you want them to get to slaughter weight in 12 weeks since you compromise their tenderness...so it'd be good to give a grain supplement as a compromise?
 

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