I just ordered my Delewares! Question...

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by NYRIR, May 17, 2011.

  1. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let me start off by saying we had originally decided to hatch eggs from our laying flock for meat birds.We have 2 RIR (production red) roos and many types of hens.( br,bjg,nh,glw,rir, to name a few).I know the breasts of a DP bird are not as big as cornishx,but we were a bit disappointed with size,not flavor.So we did some research and found out that the Delawares were used before the cornishx for commercial meat birds.We just ordered 3 roos and 10 hens to start a laying meat bird flock.Does anyone have any input or is there anything I should know about these birds in particular? I am so happy my DH decided to start this meat laying flock! It means I get to keep more chickens [​IMG]
    I should mention our laying flock is free range all day so they get really strong muscles too.The meat birds will have an adequate run and coop space.At what age is it best to butcher Delewares so the meat isn't tough?
    ETA: I can't let them free range due to space because I have a large laying flock,but will be giving them grass clippings etc.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Before the current broilers were developed, the Delaware, White Rock, and New Hampshire were used as meat birds. Some others were too but I think these were the main ones. With the lighter colored feathers, you get a prettier carcass when you pluck the bird. Those pin feathers are still there, but they are not as noticable as on the darker birds. The Delaware and others were specifically bred to provide meat, though egg production was pretty decent with the Rock and Delaware.

    With chickens, you have to constantly cull your breeding flock to enhance and maintain the traits you want, whether that is egg laying, meat production, show quality, or anything else. Otherwise those traits fairly quickly decline. When the broilers took over the meat market, people quit maintaining the Delaware and others as meat birds. They are now more like dual purpose birds.

    I've raised hatchery Delaware. I think they are a pretty good choice for what you are after. If you feed them a diet for dual purpose meat birds, they should develop fairly nicely. But don't expect them to be that close to what the Delaware meat birds were when they were at their peak. I would not expect them to be much, if any, bigger than the other dual purpose breeds if you feed them the same, especially if they are hatchery birds. If you found a good breeder that specializes in breeding them close to the original, then that is a different story. But expect to pay show quality prices, not hatchery prices.

    I don't raise them the way you propose so I won't comment on when to butcher them. If you feed them the high protein diet, I'd think you would be a few weeks ahead of me. I fed them as a laying flock and let them free range.
     
  3. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Ok,so if I cull the smaller ones each year,and just keep the biggest ones...would that help?
    And yes, it bothers me that I can't free range them [​IMG] but it's just not an option for us until we get more property if possible.I will however,ensure they have the right ratio hen/roo and have adequate space for coop and run.It's the best I can do for them...but I figure they will still have a better life than store bought....which was our main goal to begin with.
    I have read a lot of your posts on here and value your opinion...thanks for any input [​IMG]
     
  4. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have not started what you are proposing but would like to eventually do a similar thing with the birds I have rather than buying birds specifically for meat. There was an article I found online that I really liked that helped me understand when to harvest not meat birds

    Here is the link

    http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/cookingwheritagechicken.pdf

    I hope it's helpful to you.
     
  5. CANDLE98

    CANDLE98 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wow I just read through that article! What great info! I am so going to see if I can get some of those old cookbooks!
     
  6. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have found them in some of the used bookstores online I ordered one to start but I already have the Better HOmes and Gardens one and it is amazing. I highly recommend getting that one if you can find it in print.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2011
  7. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Awesome...I had read this before but had forgotten where to find it...much appreciated [​IMG]
     
  8. DAYDRINKER

    DAYDRINKER Out Of The Brooder

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    I've picked up 26 straight run Delawares and am looking to freeze the roosters. Mine came at the end of March and I dont expect any to be ready
    before September. Am keeping the hens for eggs and breeding next years roosters and would like to add a rooster from a different line.
    good luck!
     
  9. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Yep,we're keeping one roo and 10 hens.I will probably try to keep next years biggest offspring and so on and so on...until we have bigger than "normal" hatchery stock.I hope it'll work anyway.
     
  10. Jared77

    Jared77 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Id split the original rooster and the biggest/best daughters from this original group of birds off in 1 set up, and the biggest/best son with the original hens in another set up. Then on the next generation Id hold back the biggest girls and the biggest boys from each pen and switch roos. Old hens and roosters are culled.

    So the girls stay put but the biggest/best 2 boys swap pens to be bred to a new group of hens. Then 2 generations later repeat and hold back the biggest girls/boys and swap the boys out again. This keeps the lines close but you still get some diversity back into your 2 pens without sacrificing anything by introducing an outcross stud. Id keep the standard the same for each pen of birds to be held back but this allows you to keep the flock closed and the quality very high. The goal is to have 2 pens of identical looking birds in type, rate of growth overall size, volume of flesh, etc that are somewhat related.

    Id use the ALBC articles to decide who to keep back for breeding, but thats how Id use my breeding strategy long term.

    Just my humble opinion....
     

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