meat birds as pets?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by hens and chicks, Apr 23, 2008.

  1. hens and chicks

    hens and chicks Hatching

    Apr 23, 2008
    has anyone ever tried raising a meat bird as a pet? Our kids hatched some eggs at preschool and got attached to the chicks, which we have just learned are "broilers." Can they be raised to lay eggs and live beyond the typical butchering age?

    Any advice would be appreciated!
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2008
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Yes, some do live to laying age. Others will drop dead prior to point of lay, though. As with most hybrids, they starting laying around 4.5 months old.

    I have access to some Cornish Cross hens which I could use for breeding. The farmer who has them does not feed them. This is perhaps a key to their longevity.

    As far as efficient egg layers, though, they don't 'work' in comparison to egg laying breeds. They will eat more food than the value of the eggs they produce. But, if they are a pet, then that doesn't matter to you I guess. I mean, we don't expect our cats to make a wage and feed themselves do we?
  3. mmajw

    mmajw Songster

    Jan 31, 2008
    My Cornish X never live past 8 weeks so I am not sure. We butcher them at about 8 weeks and if we didnt they would start dropping dead of heart attacks they get huge.
  4. willheveland

    willheveland Songster

    Jan 29, 2008
    southern tier,NY
    If it was me and this is their first time of having chickens,I think I would get some baby chick layers coming.It may be very disappointing to raise them like pets only to loose them later.You can keep them and see what happens but, they aren't really geared towards pets.Meanwhile you can explain their purpose as why they are called meatbirds.I always had meatbirds but had layers to go along with them for the kids.It's also a good time to start teaching where food comes from.Many people eat meat everyday and love it,but can't think about where it comes from.
    IMO Will
  5. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    Over thirty years ago when I had just moved "back to the farm" and hadn't even really settled in yet, my brother gave me 6 or 7 Cornish X hens that had gotten past the butcher block and reached some maturity. He claimed that they should make good layers.

    Since this was the beginning of my livestock acquisition, I decided to keep 'em around and see how they'd do. It was a fairly serious mistake and after about 6 months, I gave 'em back.

    It may come as a surprise to some (especially those who weren't born yet [​IMG] ) that Cornish X's existed 30+ years ago but they did. These were, no doubt, not has highly refined as the current critters but they certainly were big, big hens. They were fine trundling around the barnyard following a good-looking Americauna rooster and probably benefitted enormously from the exercise. They continued to eat a great quantity of feed and produced very, very few eggs.

    I'm not sure what you want in a pet but I'd prefer something more than birds whose sole talent seems to be the ability to dig coonhound-size holes in the ground.

    Last edited: Apr 24, 2008
  6. hinkjc

    hinkjc Crowing

    Jan 11, 2007
    The farmer who has them does not feed them.

    That sounds cruel or maybe I'm reading too much into that statement. I hope you mean that he manages their feed.

    We raised a meatbird hen to maturity, although she didn't live very long and did have a heart attack in the end, around 7-8 months old. Here are some pics of Snowball.




  7. Cassandra

    Cassandra Ranger Rick

    Oct 27, 2007
    Southwest Mississippi
    digitS' :

    I'm not sure what you want in a pet but I'd prefer something more than birds whose sole talent seems to be the ability to dig coonhound-size holes in the ground.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Got all choked up at work. Sorry. Carry on.

  8. keeperofthechickens

    keeperofthechickens In the Brooder

    Mar 1, 2007
    Twin Cities, MN
    Last year I raised Meatbirds, butchered most of them after 3 months. Saved 4, two hens and two roosters, was going to save the roosters till thanksgiving but they both had heart attacks within a week of each other.

    The two hens were saved to see if perhaps I could use them as breeders, one died this winter, and I still have another one, but she does not like to range far, if she makes it till June she will be 1 year old.
  9. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I find those photo's charming, Jody . . . maybe I'm a soft touch after all.

    Snowball still needed to lean on a block when it was available and probably had a Buff Orpington friend. They would be good companions, I'd imagine.

    Steve' digits.
  10. Carolina Chicken Man

    Carolina Chicken Man Songster

    Mar 29, 2008
    Raleigh, NC
    When my wife was a student at NC State taking a poultry science class, she brought home 25 cornish x chicks. We slaughtered all of the roosters but 1 and ended up with 11 hens. We got eggs from them for a while, and had to give them to somebody when they were about 8 mos old. They were all doing ok at the time, but we did "manage" their feed.

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