Plymouth Rocks as meat birds ?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Mojo Chick'n, Oct 22, 2008.

  1. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Ok, I've been doing some research, and I was wondering if anyone has grown out Plymouth Rocks as meat birds.

    A friend of mine has Plymouth Rocks, and I was wanting to find a local source for meat birds - and the Cornish Crosses (Cornish Rocks) are part White Plymouth Rock and part Cornish.

    Now, the Cornish get bigger - but the Plymouth would probably be big enough - my concern is meat quality - is it tough, what age to butcher, good flavor, etc...

    If you have raised them, how is the breast meat for size? (I got two kids who like white meat).

    I plan on doing meat birds come spring, so I am trying to figure out if I want to go and pay bigger money to order Cornish X or buy eggs from my friend (cheaper) to hatch and raise my own.

    I have heard the Cornish eat a LOT and poo a LOT - so a dual purpose breed would be better on the budget, but not if the meat is too stringy or tough to eat.

    I'll be waiting to see your comments [​IMG]

    Thanks -
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2008
  2. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    15+ weeks and you'll get roosters which will be around 4 lbs dressed. They'll consumed around 25 lbs of feed to reach that weight.

    The Cornish Cross historically a Cornish Sire on a Rock dame; but the parent strains they use for the cross now looking nothing like the 'breeds' we see in the backyard.
  3. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Quote:Thanks [​IMG] Now, would I want to feed them regular chick starter or broiler starter? would it make that much of a difference, or would it mess with their growing?

    I don't mind taking longer to size, as long as the meat doesn't get tough and stringy.

    My family is me and hubby, and two teens - one of whom works for Lee's Famous Recipe - so he isn't a big chicken fan [​IMG] The other likes white meat, but will eat any cut in certain cooking methods. (none of them can resist my grilled chicken [​IMG] whatever cut of meat it is.)

    I was thinking of probably doing some Cornish Cross and some of the white Plymouth Rocks to see which I preferred.

    But, I figure any input from folks who have done the meaties before is a good thing.

    Thanks again -
  4. BeardedChick

    BeardedChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm glad you asked about this. I have seen them recommended as a meat bird to grow at high altitude. I was thinking of trying white rocks next year for meat 'n eggs.

    So please post if you come across any additional information. Thanks!!
  5. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Quote:I'll be sure to. I did a search for the info, and came up with little on BYC - maybe a few posts.

    I'm currently searching other places, as well.

    I know that my friend's white plymouth rocks look to have good sized breasts - although I haven't gone into the pen to grope them [​IMG] Hers are currently laying, but were purchased back in March when I got my own chicks. They are BIG chickens. (We got them at the same place, mine were born about March 12th - the feedstore got all of them in at the same time, so her's are the same birth time.)

    Now, I know that Cornish Cross are "the" chicken for broilers, but I would love to be able to sustain a flock of meaties - and I can't breed my own Cornish Crosses.

    My experience with my own chickens for meat was butchering a spare roo at less than a year old - but obviously too old for good meat. He was a New Hampshire Red, and he was so tough and stringy we couldn't chew the thing!!

    I didn't grow him for meat, he was just annoying me so I killed him, and figured "waste not - want not". (he was very agressive, he had to be culled).

    This is why I am worried about meat quality more than time to grow. I don't mind taking a little longer to get to a good size to butcher, in fact, it might be nice not to HAVE to butcher them all at once. But if the meat quality is so bad no one can eat it, then it would be a waste of time and money.

    I'll let ya know on here anything I find.

    Peace -
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    You absolutely must feed them a broiler ration. A side-by-side comparison of birds on a pullet developer vs a broiler feed is shocking. Typically, broilers are given one feed through-out life. They're often called "broiler starter/finisher" or "fryer ration". Chick starter is interchangeable with a broiler ration for the most part. There is no need to change feeds like you would with a pullet flock who'll become layers.

    What you really ought to consider is making your own hybrids. Even poorly conceived hybrid crosses outperform purebred anything (including Rocks) for growth rate and production. Put a sire of a different breed on the Rocks and you'll get better results.
  7. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Quote:Cool, I'll try that, too. I had seen somewhere that someone (cannot recall the page) suggested crossing Plymouth Rocks with LF Cochins. They didnt totally explain the benefit of that cross, though.

    Here is what I finally found on the broiler feed vs. layer starter (I found this before I read your reply - thanks for confirming what this says.)

    from ---

    Chickens: The best broiler chicken breeds are the Rock-Cornish crossbreed and the Cornish, Plymouth Rock, or White Jersey Giant breeds. Birds with light-colored plumage are preferred because they produce more attractive carcasses after slaughter. Broiler chickens need 1.5 - 2 sq. ft. of floor space per bird. Remove wet litter before it causes breast sores and leg problems. Broiler and fryer chickens need a balanced ration of starter mash or crumble pellets with 20%-23% protein. Roasters require a 20% protein starter feed for the first six weeks, but they are later switched to an 18% protein grower ration. Another option is to initially feed roasters a ration of 90% starter with 10% corn for the first six to ten weeks, followed by 80% starter and 20% corn. Birds need 3 inches of feeder space per individual. Feeders should be only one-third to one-half full to reduce waste. Broiler chickens require at least 6 gal. of fresh water per 100 birds daily. Clean waterers daily, and repair leaks immediately. Light is important; one 25- to 40-watt bulb should be installed every 100 sq. ft. Meat birds do not require roosts or nests because they are slaughtered before they reach production age. Fryers are slaughtered at four to five weeks (2-3 lbs.) or six to nine weeks (4-5 lbs.). Roasters are slaughtered between nine and 14 weeks."""

    That was more info than I was looking for, but in part it does say to use the broiler starter/grower.

    I am planning to free range the Plymouths, also. I would not necesarily free range the Cornish Crosses. I would be afraid they would be too slow/heavy to escape predators. The Plymouths, however, might be a tad bit smaller, so better suited to free range. Free range is always better than cooped up and smelly/disease ridden.

    The more I read on the Plymouth Rocks, the more I am liking the idea of raising them for meat.

    Pros -
    *sustainable - can "grow your own"
    *Not as "super fast growing" so probably less health issues
    *Cheaper original purchase price (for me, anyway, I can get a dozen hatching eggs locally for 2 bucks)

    Cons -
    *not as heavy as Cornish Cross
    *not as fast growing (if you want to do meat chickens within a couple of month time frame, Cornish X is better).
    *may not be true to type, for broiler purposes. (I'd have to cull the scrawnies before breeding)

    With Cornish Cross you have to buy chicks every time you want a batch of them to raise. (at anywhere from 90 cents to 2.00 per chick - plus shipping, waiting to arrive, availability, etc...)

    I'm sure I missed something in the pros/cons.

    The Plymouth Rock might not be ideal (if you want chicken just like you get at the store) but it certainly is one of the best I've seen (read about) so far for homestead purposes.

    Plus, if the dressed bird is a bit smaller, and you have more mouths to feed, it is still more economical, perhaps, to just serve two birds, or a bird and a half than to buy more, process more, etc... of the larger Cornish Cross.

    I'm still gonna have to determine if the meat quality is what I want. That will only be something to experience for myself, I guess.

    ETA - another Pro (or not, depending on your viewpoint) - you do not have to butcher all of them at the same time. If you are "growing your own" you can stagger hatches and amounts hatched to butcher and keep some to freeze (if you have space) or serve sooner, if you are limited on space in freezer or limited on how much you want to spend for storage options.

    Peace -
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2008
  8. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Hmmm... here's another question -

    Greyfields, you said that a mutt would be better - the Plymouth Rocks I would be purchasing are from a mixed flock of RIR, Plymouth Rocks and SL Wyandottes.

    In your opinion, would either of the other two be ok to mix for meat purposes?

    There are hens and roos of both breeds within the flock, so there is no real guarantee that the Plymouth Rocks would be totally pure PRs anyway.

    Peace -
  9. monster1

    monster1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    that is alot of feed to waste on a meat bird. if you buy the tsc starter feed that is roughly $13 a bag that is about .26 cents per pound of feed. about $6.50 of feed per bird.

    with the cornish the feed conversion is mcuh better. i think about 2.5 to 1. the bird will gain one pound per two and a half pounds of feed which would be approximately half of what you would need to feed the plymouth rocks.

    therefore, raising cornish-x for meat will save you half the cost of raising rocks for the same purpose. that can really add up when you raise more than a dozen birds.
    Last edited: Oct 22, 2008
  10. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Quote:True, but how much are you also spending on buying the chicks each time you want to raise some? Say you did 50 birds, purchased from Murray McMurray (for example). The Jumbo Cornish Cross - for 50 chicks is $76.50 + $20.50 shipping (to my house) that equals $97.00 right off the start to just get the chicks to raise. Whereas if you could breed and hatch your own chicks to raise for meat, the cost would be considerably less. (even only buying 25 birds, it would cost 53.25 shipped - before you even start feeding them).

    Now granted, the starter feed is going to probably be similarly priced wherever you go. For instance, I had to buy starter feed today, and they did not have broiler starter, so I also bought soybean meal to add to it to up the protein levels. Add in free ranging to cover part of your feed costs, and it probably would come close to even - the Cornish perhaps being a bit cheaper to feed.

    Overall, the cost of raising the birds to butcher would still more than likely be less (or even up) with home bred birds.

    edited because I did some more math - yes, with your figures it is less to feed the cornish even if you buy them as chicks - But, that is not taking into account other factors, such as freezer space, and cost of running a freezer (minimal, but still a factor) -- with home bred birds you can stagger hatches to prevent long term storage -- and availability of the chicks. Plus, if you do not wish to spend a day or two processing that many birds all at once, I just think that hatching your own for however many you want to raise at any given time is the better way to go.

    Peace -
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by