How do you raise meat birds? (explanation in post)

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Jennsbirds, Mar 4, 2013.

  1. Jennsbirds

    Jennsbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2013
    Bay Area
    I intend for most birds I own to end up in the fridge.

    However, if I kill all my flock, there's obviously none left when I run out. I will need my meat to make more meat.

    That's where I'm a bit confused.
    Do I eat the babies or parents?
    How do I keep the remaining birds to cope with the loss of their buddies?
    How do I plan for eggs and meat?
    How risky is inbreeding in a flock?
    Can raising birds for meat and eggs without always buying more be done on a small scale?
  2. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    Many folks raise egg laying breeds for eggs and meat chickens for meat. Unfortunately, there are not any really great meat birds that are truly sustainable...meaning you can keep some for breeding the next batch and have good results (although there are a few here who have had satisfying results with 2nd generation Freedom Rangers.)

    That said, if you choose to purchase a "dual purpose" breed, that is considered a reasonably good egg layer and also produces a decent carcass for meat you can have perhaps not the best of both worlds, but the satisfaction of a sustainable flock.

    As for eating the babies or the parents, remember that about 50% of the chicks you hatch are going to be roosters and you only need about 1 rooster for every 8 to 10 hens, so butchering the majority of your rooster "babies" for meat when they reach a reasonable sizewould make sense. Hens slow down in their egg production after a few years, so then butchering some of you "parents" once they are less productive also makes sense.

    There are great articles on how to avoid too much inbreeding in a flock. I don't preted to be an expert, but there are some great experts available if you do some web searching.
  3. missnu01

    missnu01 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 16, 2012
    The issue with dual purpose is that it takes them a good little while to get to an eating size. But White Rocks are a great breed for meat and egg laying. I have what I think is a white rock leghorn mix that lays eggs like crazy even though she is over 2 years old. I would think orpingtons would make good dual purpose birds, except they just take so very long to mature. I plan on getting breeds this year that are large bodied good egg layers, and then allowing the different breeds to interbreed, the ones that lay well will be the layers, the ones that are male, or don't lay well will be dinner chickens. Pretty much.
    We are also buying a round of meat birds just to try them out. But I am hoping this will be the only time that we get the meat birds. I am hoping to hatch enough birds that we can just process some as we need them. I won't be keeping any small chickens just because they lay small eggs, and they aren't worth processing...My only issue with that is that I already have 6 smallish sized barnyard mixes. I like them well enough, but they aren't big enough to eat and they lay small eggs. I will keep them because I don't want to kill a chicken I'm not going to eat...I guess we could eat them anyway and then just not get anymore small chickens again...I'm not sure what we will do with our 6 small one we have now.
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    Personally I'd like to someday have a pure Cornish flock. Just look at the chest of Cornish and ask yourself if there's a good deal of meat there? Currently I have Plymouth Rocks and the last rooster was very tasty but I'd have liked to see more breast meat. And that in a nut shell is what you'll be dealing with with most dual purpose birds. I've heard Turkens have more meat to carcass ratio and obviously the Cornish will too. White Rocks have been breed for more meat and faster growth also.
  5. Life is Good!

    Life is Good! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    suburbia Chicagoland
    That question is answered by how many folks you're feeding vs. how long it takes to grow out a chicken to be a decent sized table bird. Our "layer" flock of Black Javas produce a decent enough carcass - but take 20wks to mature, 26wks to mature to lay eggs - at least 8mo to get good eggs. They have laid consistently for me - even through the dead of an Illinois winter. Not all breeds still lay in winter.

    We obtained an incubator this winter - and am now hatching eggs to grow our flock of hens. (Fox attack last fall reduced hens to lower than what I desire). However, of the 5 eggs hatched, I ended up with at least 3 roosters, maybe 4! So those 4 will be treated well and become table birds, unless one becomes head Rooster - either way, I've got 4 birds for the table. One bird provides enough meat to do a HUGE chicken and dumpling dinner (9x13pan and 7x11pan) - but realistically, they lack the large double breast of a cornish cross for something like chicken on the grill.

    If your family favors white meat - you will need to grow cornish cross for the table. If your family favors dark meat - most "dual purpose" birds will suit you fine. But don't grow a dual purpose expecting cornish cross white meat. It's not there!

    Because photos are worth more than words, here's a post I did of the three different carcasses prior to cooking.

    I hope the photos help!

    If you are seeking both eggs and meat for your table - figure out how many times a week you eat chicken multiply that by at least 20wks = that equals how large of a sustained flock you need to have 'on hand' for the table alone. The eggs are harder to figure, if you do seasonal baking. Different breeds lay at different rates - read as much as you can and ask lots of questions on the different sections of the forum to learn more. Please remember, each hen is different, so your results may vary! You can figure on growing out some each month and processing each month - it's very possible. We're not quite there yet (fox attack), but got close last fall. Good luck!
  6. Jennsbirds

    Jennsbirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2013
    Bay Area
    I'm not sure if a duel breed won't be enough for my family, but it,s good to know about rocks in case they aren't enough.

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