pros and cons of meat birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by norahsmommy, Jan 6, 2009.

  1. norahsmommy

    norahsmommy In the Brooder

    what are the pros and cons of meat birds. My FIL raised meat birds once and said never again. He said they were disgusting and they grew so fast their legs couldn't support their weight and they couldn't walk. He slaughtered them as soon as he was able and from then on only raised regular chickens for meat and eggs. Hubby really wants to slaughter and have meat. I want eggs. What do you like about meat birds vs. regular roos for meat? I don't want scary mutant looking birds with health problems. I am new to raising chickens and want things to go as smoothly as possible.
  2. ILoveJoe

    ILoveJoe Songster

    Jun 28, 2008
    Northern Kentucky
    Maybe you and hubby can compromise and get him his meaties and you can get a few hens for their eggs.
  3. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    If you don't mind a smaller carcass, I'd go with a dual purpose bird.

    you'd get eggs and you could butcher the extras for meat.
  4. Omniskies

    Omniskies Songster

    Mar 7, 2008
    If done right, meaties aren't too, too big a deal. They do smell, they have health issues, and they eat a _lot_. They're also more cost effective, faster to raise, and have a lot more breast meat.

    I say try both in _small_ doses. Get a straight run of dual-purpose chicks with the intent of putting all of the roosters in the freezer. Also get maybe a dozen broilers and see which ones you like the best.

    Broilers will be ready to butcher in 8-10 weeks. The dual-purpose will be ready in 18-22 weeks.

    Make sure you get a breed that is meant for meat rather than a breed that has roosters you can kill. Leghorn roosters _can_ be eaten, but it takes as much time to get a half a pound of meat out of them as it does to get a few pounds out of a larger rooster.

    I recommend Plymouth Rocks (ie. the White Rocks or Barred Rocks), New Hampshires, Rhode Islands, Delewares, Australorps, or Wyandottes in no particular order. Pick a breed that is pretty and go from there.

    Just a note, Jersey Giants and Brahmas are tasty, but also grow more slowly. Same with the standard Cochins and other giant breeds.

    Once you've tried both you can decide whether you want to hatch out chicks and butcher your own roosters, sell the roos as soon as you can and use the money to buy broilers, or eat both, since your dual-purpose taste better while your broilers look more plump.


    I just read the part about being new to chickens. If you're new, you may want to try fewer birds. If you can keep your order at no more than 25 chickens to begin with you'll be thankful. You don't want to overwhelm yourself and become frustrated with the whole mess.

    Also, I recommend starting with a cheaper breed until you get the hang of things. There is always that one little thing that you didn't know that can result in an accident. The water dish was too large and the chicks became chilled, the heat lamp was too low, etc. _If_ you have a problem with your chicks, make it a less costly one.

    I'm dropping New Hampshires, Rhode Islands and Australorps from my list of recommendations. I know that every breed has a mean rooster story, but I've heard more from those three breeds (on the list) than I have from others. Wyandottes are pretty laid back and Orpingtons may as well be on sedatives. Plymouth Rocks are extremely hardy and the White variety seems to feather out a lot faster than most other breeds, which is really handy.

    Once you've figured out the gist, then you can decide whether to keep the breed or swap to something more fancy.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2009
  5. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Here's a chart that might help.
    If you look at the average weights, and look to the far right at the column that tells how fast they mature, you can find a breed that matures quickly and grows to a good weight.
    I would avoid the slow and moderately maturing breeds, unless you want to wait 20 weeks or more to butcher excess roos.

    Good choices for dual purpose include Delaware, Dominique, Chantecler, Faverolle, New Hampshire, and others. They mature fast enough that you won't be waiting 6 months for the roos to get big enough to eat.

    As far as temperament goes, it's unpredictable. I've never had a mean Australorp. I have had a mean Orpington. Other people have had the exact opposite.

    A separate pen for broilers is a good idea. Especially a movable one, so you can move it daily to fresh ground, especially if you decide to try the Cornish X's.

    The range broilers from JM are easier to keep alive than the Cornish X's. They can also be free-ranged along with regular chickens. They're outgrow the regulars pretty quickly, but if you start with chicks of both kinds at the same time, it'll probably be ok anyway. I don't know if JM has anything other than the rangers, though, so you might not want to get those right now. Most hatcheries have minimums you have to order, I don't know if you want to fill minimums for 2 different hatcheries when you're just starting out, I wouldn't.

    Good luck, whatever you choose!
  6. purelypoultry

    purelypoultry Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    Fremont, Wisconsin
    I would definitely go with some utility breed straight run chickens . I would definitely make it a joint decision with you and your husband. Slow growing broilers are also an option.
  7. Brunty_Farms

    Brunty_Farms Songster

    Apr 29, 2007
    When I first started I got 15 of the Broilers and filled the rest with white rock pullets.

    This worked out good for me as anymore than 15 would have been way too many. I think I ended up with like 8 birds from the broilers that lived. I lost a lot to Flip as I fed them 24/7. The 8 that I did manage to raise to butcher size, only four of them I butchered. My neighbor showed me how as I had no clue. The other four I gave to a local farmer down the road who was happy to take them.

    The pullets all did fine and I ended up with an EE Rooster that was the mystery chick from McMurray.

    The next time around I was able get more as I was more prepared. Start of slow, maybe 10-15 broilers. Then fill the rest of your minimum out with the layers you want.

    To answer your question though........

    1) Broilers are around less longer. 6-8 weeks.
    2) They have a better feed conversion than the Dual Purpose
    3) They are known for having lots of breast meat.
    4) They save you time and money.
    5) Take to chicken tractors really well, they love to eat grass/bugs
    6) They are slow.... easy to catch!

    1) Grow fast, genetic problems of the joints (Colored Broilers Dont)
    2) Pooping Machines
    3) Lazy if allowed to be
    4) Don't take to free ranging very well (Colored Broilers do)
    5) Breathing problems if not managed properly

    1) Dual Purpose have a richer flavor than the Broilers
    2) Great for making chicken noodle soup
    3) Great foragers, could cut feed cost up to 30% in spring/summer
    4) Pretty to look at
    5) Easy, almost indestructable to raise
    6) Great for Beginners
    7) Will make you appreciate the cornish or rangers better.

    1) Dual Pupose grow slower
    2) They crow too much
    3) Meat is often stringy and less of it
    4) They seem to be a waste of time if your trying to save money
    5) If you have to many they harrass your hens
    6) They are quick and harder to catch!

    Either way your in for a fun experience! Your going to make lots of memories.......take pictures!! Good luck....
  8. jaku

    jaku Songster

    I like doing meat birds. Yes, they smell, and they CAN have leg problems, but none of mine have had any. Just give them broiler feed and you should be ok. As far as health problems, they are prone to dying, but not usually too much. I've lost about 10% and I'm on my third batch. That might sound a bit high, but I've done groups of 25, so 2-3 birds per batch. And, it's not so much "health problems," as an occasional dead one.
  9. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    If you go with the typical Cornish X, they do better if they aren't allowed to free feed past a certain age. I think they also do better if the weather isn't too hot, especially towards the end, when they are larger. Letting them go past their processing date, even by a couple of weeks, can lead to increasing losses. Any of these issues could have contributed to your FIL having more problems.

    I think the broilers developed for free ranging might work better for you and was a great suggestion. I've heard a lot of positive feedback about them.

    A lot of people like dual purpose and you've gotten some good ideas here already.

    I think this is one of those times when you may end up trying different birds in different years. They'll all be different, they'll all be delicious and I think you can be successful with any of them.

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