Meat breeds

ChickChic00

Songster
Sep 10, 2019
170
144
101
Are Black Australorp, Buff Orpington, Barred Rock and Delaware chickens good to raise for meat?
 

ChocolateMouse

Crowing
6 Years
Jul 29, 2013
2,756
5,692
387
Cleveland OH
Eh, depends on what your goals are and where you source them.

Hatchery chickens probably aren't going to do very well for you at all. They'll stay skinny as they're way more egg focused than the breed description calls for.

No heritage breed will have a "good" feed conversion ratio. Under ideal circumstances a cornish cross can turn 2-2.5lbs of feed into 1lb of live weight. Red rangers and other "slow' hybrids do about 4lbs/1lb. Heritage breeds tend to need 7lbs of feed to 1lb live weight, which is pretty abysmal if your goal is good feed conversion for reduced costs or land usage.

Heritage non-hatchery chickens WILL be good for eating the extra roosters for personal use if you're raising them for show or eggs or personal use. My australorps made a good stew when the spent hens were done and most non hatchery DP/meat heritage breeds would do well to make a good sustainable flock for personal use or an artisianal market flock. But the resulting meat will have been expensive to produce still.
 

archeryrob

Songster
Aug 3, 2018
368
543
147
Western Maryland
What do you want from your meat birds? Cornish cross give you that "white" meat. Heritage, non corn feed, get a rich darker meat and flavor. My neighbor told me I didn't bleed the bird I gave them enough. She used to raise her own birds as a kid and they corned them heavily as bird feed wasn't really a thing.

This was a Rhode Island Rooster, that had to go.
ChickenSoup_2 (Medium).JPG


And the thighs
ChickenSoup_1 (Medium).JPG
 

Birdinhand

Crowing
May 23, 2016
1,100
1,649
267
Pacific Northwest
I've eaten a few of my heritage breed cast offs and mostly had a miserable experience. I now grow egg layers for eggs and CX for meat and I just don't find it's worth eating the non CX birds. I keep thinking I should grind up the layers for dog food but truth is, it's rare that I end up with a layer dying or needing to be put down. they produce eggs for a long time and become more like pets. mostly they get buried.

there are folks who prefer the taste of non-meet birds enough to make it worth the trouble, expense and low yield, so if that's you, then have at it.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,281
12,530
707
Southeast Louisiana
Are Black Australorp, Buff Orpington, Barred Rock and Delaware chickens good to raise for meat?
You've been getting good information but I don't know what you mean by "good to raise for meat"? What are your goals? What are you after?

Others have talked about feed to meat conversion. If you buy all their food that could be very important. If you raise most of it or they forage a lot it may be less important.

How will you cook them? Dual purpose take longer to grow to butcher size so you may be restricted in how you cook them. Frying of grilling an older bird is a good way to create shoe leather but a slow moist cooking method can give you an excellent meal.

How important is size to you? Dual purpose will not get as big as the Cornish X or Rangers comparatively. There are only two of us, I can get two meals out of a small pullet. I like the size of a good cockerel but that just means I get left-over chicken for lunch. For many people size is of utmost importance.

You can hatch your own dual purpose. You pretty much have to buy Cornish X or Ranger chicks. There are some threads on here where people have been able to hatch Cornish X or Rangers, usually crossing them with dual purpose, but most people that try that are not very successful. It's not easy.

If you hatch, half will be pullets. What will yo do with them? If you keep them and hatch many you can be overrun with pullets. I eat mine, some people sell theirs. You need to have a plan.

As far as breeds of dual purpose, what you mention comes close to describing my mixes. Mine are not a specific breed but a combination of several hatchery chicken breeds. Before the Cornish X took over the meat market Delaware, New Hampshire, and some strains of White Rock were the main meat breeds in the US, but that was in the 1950's. For over 60 years the hatcheries have not been breeding these for meat. They are still a good choice but so are several other breeds. If you can find a breeder that is breeding a dual purpose chicken for meat and they know what they are doing you can get a better meat bird than a typical hatchery chicken, but they still will not beat a Cornish X or Ranger as a meat bird. They probably won't be real cheap either but the cost for breeding stock could be worth it.

If you pluck you get a prettier carcass with a white or buff bird. They all leave pin feathers behind but you don't see them as much as you would with a darker bird. I skin mine so it's not an issue. They go through juvenile molts, they outgrow their feathers and have to replace them. If you time your butchering when they are molting and you pluck you can get a real ugly carcass.

We all have different tastes. When cockerels go through puberty the hormones adds flavor and texture to the meat. The texture is why you might have to use certain cooking methods. Many of us like that flavor but to some it is strong or gamey. How you cook it has an effect, but some people just don't like that flavor, especially if they are used to the "store" chicken, which are Cornish X butchered well before puberty hits.

I used hatchery chicks to start my flock. One of my goals was meat, so I selected the larger cockerels to keep as breeders. In a couple of generations I noticed a difference. It wasn't that the biggest cockerels got real big though they did increase in size a little. The big difference for me was that the smallest cockerels got bigger. I still got a pretty big range of size between smallest and largest, but I eat the smaller ones and keep the biggest one to breed. The increase in size of the smaller ones did me a lot more good than the few "biggest" getting bigger.
 

FoodFreedomNow

Crowing
Aug 11, 2016
2,626
2,569
332
KY
What do you want from your meat birds? Cornish cross give you that "white" meat. Heritage, non corn feed, get a rich darker meat and flavor. My neighbor told me I didn't bleed the bird I gave them enough. She used to raise her own birds as a kid and they corned them heavily as bird feed wasn't really a thing.

This was a Rhode Island Rooster, that had to go.
View attachment 2004455

And the thighs
View attachment 2004456
Looks great!
 

reeeen4

Chirping
Jan 9, 2020
43
133
66
Generations. Breed a lot & cull heavily. How many breeding pens would you operate?

what is your timeline? Quicker to source birds closer to your desired type.
I'm just starting out so am researching into meat breeds. I would make as many pens as needed to get what I'm after.

Not sure about timeline I just started so not sure how long this sort of things takes. I'm young and fairly new to poultry and farming.
 
Top Bottom