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Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by sofrube, Aug 16, 2007.
I am raising chickens and am wondering is the best bird to raise for meat, roosters or hens.
Well, if you are raising meat birds the standard type of bird is the cornish x although there are slow growing options with less leg problems but take longer to grow. The regular cornish cross will be ready to eat at 8 weeks old and will dress out between 5-6 lbs. The only difference between the girls and the boys is that the girls grow slower. I say get a mix and butcher the boys first and the girls second to get the same sized birds. They will each use the same amount of feed per lb of body weight though so it is just the amount of time it takes to grow them up.
wow ive never had a meat bird dress out under 8 pounds!! Id say go with all roosters, even though the hens take longer but have less leg problems, they dont get nearly as big.
How many weeks to you keep them till to get 8 lb birds? I butcher mine at 7-8 weeks from hatch since I don't need ones that big. One year I got busy though and they ended up 8-9 lbs dressed but they were I think 10-11 weeks old then.
You won't even be able to tell the sexes apart on Cornish Crosses by the time they are slaughtered. There is no reason to not do a straight run on meat birds.
Our birds are not the cornish X type, but the roosters are 5 lbs at 11 weeks of age. They fair better than the cornishX breed as they have less heart problems and are supposed to be a heartier breed. This is our first year raising chickens and so far so good. I guess it just depends on fast you want you chickens to grow and become meat!
Your point is true in the sense that raising pure bred chickens, you can eventually get to the dressed weight you desire by lengthening the growing time. On the other hand, that requires you to make some hard decisions if you want cockrells or pullets. You'll need to pick one or the other, since they roos will harass the pullets mercelesly and no one will gain weight.
On another point, you are missing a critical point. Any purebred chicken will never get the deep, wide, thick breast that you will find in a commercial cornish cross. All pure breds will have much shallower breasts and will be real disappointments to people who are used to the the chickens at the grocery store.
I'd never consider selling any non hybrid bird to anyone for meat. I'd never see them again and they'd be telling all their friends how awful and stringy my meat birds were. If you want to get serious about meat chickens, try doing your homegrown crosses (put a cornish rooster on practically any hen and eat the results) or search out proprietary strains of meat birds set up for the organic trade in Canda or Europe. I'm raising Freedom Rangers and am immensely pleased with the results.
Greyfileds is right about the commercial thing. If you are going to sell to the general consumer, they will expect the store looking things.
I'm lucky. I have a private few person asian market who know what real chicken is. I always get asked for "year old birds" for eating because they want tough flavorful soup birds. The meat birds sell well too though. I'm not profitable at it so I don't really want to grow more meat birds for sale but I have an easy exit for extra roo's from bantam to standards... Silkies especially.
By far the cornish x's are probably the best bet for meat birds. They are known to have some leg/heart problems though, so you really need to keep an eye on how quickly they gain weight.
We raised a batch of 25 for our county 4-H fair. They were 6 weeks old at fair time and we had to end up taking the smallest of the bunch to be in the weight class we wanted to be in. The ones we took were 4.5 pounds live each, the rest were all about a pound or so bigger. We ended up not butchering until 8 weeks, and that was way to long for our purposes. I think our biggest one was almost 9 lbs dressed, and the smallest was around 5 lbs. We will butcher sooner next time.
They grow FAST! However, they are also EXTREAMLY messy. All they do is eat, poop, eat, lay down in the poop, eat, poop, eat, and oh yeah...poop some more!
Just as a side note to anyone considering raising meat birds for fair...according to our fair rules, a "meat pen" of birds must be the same sex and as close to identicle as possible (same weight, comb color, etc). As a previous poster mentioned, it is nearly impossible to tell the sex of the cornish x's at such a young age, so we just ordered all males.
I wish you were in Ohio. You have so much info. in so many posts I appreciate every one of them. I'm still trying to get the best egg layers breed. The list I have for Spring 2008 ordering is 16 Red Stars, 4 Ameraucanas, and 2 of each RIR, New Hampshire Red, and 2 Buff Orpingtons.
My question is for the last 3 I'm looking for broody hens for sitting eggs the following spring. I wasn't sure if I should even deal with that or use an incubator, or both just for the experience?
The info. I got said that the NHR was more for meat than eggs, the RIR is better for eggs than meat but the New Hampshire was more broody the RIR isn't broody at all. Should I even get Orpingtons if New Hampshires are broody or do they even have those characteristics any more? They will be picked on most and I don't want to see that although I realize it's the natural pecking order. (shrug)
My meat birds Grayfields will be the ultimate in meat birds (Freedom Rangers) I think I'll try a few of each: Red, Gray and a couple black.
I know lots of questions but the more I read and learn the better I will be at this and ready for Spring. Time moves so fast and Spring will be here before I know it. Plus I'll need to have plans ready for hubby as I'll be with the new baby come April or when ever he or she is born
Thanks so much to you all,