Looking for advice on a heritage meat bird

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Kylacat, Jul 3, 2015.

  1. Kylacat

    Kylacat Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 3, 2015
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    We are very new to raising chicken, about 8 weeks into our first batch of Freedom Rangers. I really would like to be able to have a flock of heritage meat bird that we could get our own chicks from instead of buying them in. A dual purpose bird would be great too! We are in VT so a cold tolerant bird would be best. I would appreciate any feedback on this and maybe some pictures [​IMG]

    Thanks!
     
  2. TripleOval

    TripleOval Out Of The Brooder

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    Initially, I started raising Cornish Cross as meat birds and thought I'd give heritage birds a try. I personally won't do it again for a few reasons. For one, the length of time from chick to butcher time is much longer. With Cornish X I butcher at 9 weeks. These heritage birds went 16 weeks if I remember correctly. I think this gave their hormones too much time to take effect and I had a lot of fighting/picking on each other. Also, the heritage breed body cavities are smaller narrower so it's harder to get your hands and lung scraper in during butchering. Finally, the lower breast:leg ratio wasn't appealing. So...I'll stick to Cornish X myself. Just sharing my thoughts. Good luck!
     
  3. slingshotandLAR

    slingshotandLAR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know some folks in VT that raise jersey Giants....

    They own a compost company so they feed thier chickens for free.

    I've discussed this before on this site, there just isn't anyway to do both effectively. You always compromise meat. The heritage birds will be ok at best but now what you are used to or looking for. They take a long time to get to eating age and when they do they are very small.

    I've grown out large batches of mixed haritage breeds to use as test samples to see if I can find a alternative, but they just don't exist. If you want a chicken to look like a chicken in the pot use a meat bird. Cost of keeping outweighs the benefits in my opinion.
     
  4. HeritageGoose13

    HeritageGoose13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Using a heritage-breed and breeding your own is much more self-sufficient//sustainable than having to buy hybrids every year. Here are some heritage meaties that do well in cold:

    • Chantecler, a breed developed in Canada, said to be the most cold-hardy meat breed commonly available
    • Buckeye, a breed developed by an Ohio woman, has won some taste tests for best-tasting chicken
     
  5. Amina

    Amina Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You might also consider holding back a rooster and a couple of your Freedom Ranger hens to breed. They won't breed true, but they should still have meaty offspring.
     
  6. Kylacat

    Kylacat Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks for all the info, would love to hear more experiences. We won't be starting our project until next spring so lots of planning time left. [​IMG] Who would have guessed that chickens would be my next obsession!
     
  7. Red Tie

    Red Tie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 30, 2008
    Metamora, MI
    I've done the heritage meat birds and the cornish x. Big difference for sure in size and time. I'm curious to the response of keeping a few Freedom Rangers and hatching eggs from the them. Has anyone done this and had any good luck? They are nice birds and I've just been considering this as an option.

    Words of wisdom or thoughts?

    Thanks!
     
  8. ijon

    ijon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cross the red ranger with dark Cornish. They make a good dense bird,
     
  9. Kylacat

    Kylacat Out Of The Brooder

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    I would love some more info on the heritage birds that you raised. I hope to let them roam and butcher as needed when ready. Currently we are raising Freedom Rangers and Cornish x and have them in a PVC chicken tractor. I have heard different views about the taste of heritage birds, that they are only good for crock pot cooking since the meat is tougher. I am so new I would love any and all feedback.
     
  10. slingshotandLAR

    slingshotandLAR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A few more things I've found....

    Taste is excellent, the birds have exceptional flavor. Biggest issue affecting the toughness is age. We processed birds that were 16 weeks old and they were great, but no where near enough meat for a meal. Maybe enough for me to eat for lunch by myself but certainly not enough for a family meal.

    I also processed some birds at 16 months old, we tried grilling them..... They were like leather almost unchewable. I made soup, and stock from a few, that was pretty good. The best thing we made from those older birds was link sausage, it was really super. I would grind any older birds if I was gonna continue to eat them at that age. I culled a 10 month hen a couple weeks ago that starting pecking when we were collecting eggs, she made excellent chicken tacos that very night.

    Now that You have the CX and Rangers, nothing will really compare. It's not really worth the time trying something else, I say that simply because you will compare everything to them and nothing will even come close.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015

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