Question for those who are working on their meat bird projects


9 Years
Apr 27, 2010
Howell, MI
How do you go about selecting which traits you want them to pass on from a Roo vs a hen when making a cross?

I want to try a Buckeye/New Hampshire breeding and see what I get. The goal is a faster growing colored meat bird. Basically recreating something very similar to the Freedom Ranger. I don't plan on keeping any chicks back for breeding because I know I'll lose size/type or rate of lay and it will be all over the place. I'm not trying to establish a new breed, I'm trying to find a combination that will produce chicks that are like a FR and do that breeding every year instead of ordering chicks every time I turn around. So given this idea, would you use a Buckeye Roo or a New Hampshire Roo? And why?

I thought Id pick your brains since you've been there done that. Thank you for your time
I find those two breeds to be quite similar, what traits are you hoping to get from each? For your goals as I understand them I think I would consider a cornish X rock, cornish X Buckeye, or cornish X NH . . . hoping to get a faster growing bigger bird from one side and the heavy "double" muscle from the other.
I suppose you might get some crossbred vigor ; but , as Katy said , they're not likely to have the size you're looking for . JMHO and not experince from making that cross myself .
I haven't made that cross myself either, but I would agree with Katy and Steve in that I don't think you'd get what you're looking for out of it. Generally when you make a cross you do it for two reasons, 1) hybrid vigor and 2) because each parent brings a different genetic package to the table and you want to select in the offspring a certain combination of those. If each parent is bringing a very similar genetic package to the table however, all you really get is hybrid vigor. Which isn't anything to sneeze at, I suppose, but you have goals beyond that.

I'd choose one of those two breeds that you like best and cross it with something bigger and meatier. A cornish like Katy suggested, or a Brahma, maybe.
I was hoping for a meat bird with a more consistant rate of lay. I keep reading that the buckeyes rate of lay is not so good in many lines and finding well fleshed out NHs are few and far between. Hoping that the hybrid vigor would put it maturing out around 16-20 weeks.

Katy you mentioned a Cornish x NH cross. Are you talking Cornish X bred to a NH or DC x NH cross? A Brahma cross might be interesting too...hadn't thought of those. Hmmm
Jared, I'm not sure what all you have tried, but Delawares are one of the few breeds that were originally developed primarily as a meat bird that now are very good layers. (Plymouth Rocks, especially the white version, may also be one of those types.)

Delaware hens, when bred to a red roo, have the added POTENTIAL benefit of creating sex-linked chicks. (Depends on whether or not you have any use for early sexing, like selling the pullets as layers.) Several people on here swear by the RIRxDelaware cross, and if you're looking for a breed that lays well but will put out some good meat birds, that is the combo I would try first based on what you have said recently. If you already have the Buckeyes, you can also use a Buckeye roo.

I don't think I would use Brahmas, especially as a potential layer.
I'd choose one of those two breeds that you like best and cross it with something bigger and meatier. A cornish like Katy suggested, or a Brahma, maybe.

Brahma! I think that's the "eagle eye" I see in my FRs. I let a bunch of them grow out to maturity and was wondering what it was about their broad, massive heads and shoulders that I recognized. I think that might be it. Now that would be interesting to try, huh?

So, would you use a Brahma roo and a Buckeye/New Hampsire hen? Or a Buckeye/New Hampshire roo and a Brahma hen? You would get sex-linked if the roo was "golden" like the Buckeye and NH. So, I'm guessing a Brahma roo and a Buckeye/New Hampshire hen because the FR chicks are not sex-linked.

Whad'ya think?

eta: oh, wait, no sign of feather legs, though. Well, it might still be interesting.
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If you used a Buff Brahma roo over a hen with the silver gene, you would get sex-links, and you might also be able to have hens that are better suited to being a layer flock the rest of the year. Rumor has it that Brahmas do tend to make very good Roos.

I would think RI Whites, a silver-based Leghorn, or a silver-based Rock might be a good solution for the hens.

I would be very interested in seeing how a Brahma/Leghorn cross performs.
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Though only in preliminary stages of using them, I'm including Brahmas in our meat flock and am thus far very happy with them. They are slower growing, but most large, meaty breeds are and I don't find them to be THAT slow growing. We free range in varied terrain and while the Brahmas may eat "a lot" we don't see it, they're incredibly good foragers and consume very, VERY little feed. If laying productivity is of concern, since the OP wants to produce crosses from pure birds year after year I would just suggest using the Brahmas for the male half of that cross. It can be a good idea to bring the size and meaty carcass in from the male side anyway.
IDK, Brahmas are definitely slower to sexually mature and may be a bit slower to reach their full size potential, but not to be ruled out entirely, at least not for us.

I wasn't impressed with Brahma roo over RIR hens. Much faster to sexually mature, but I got 1 massive yet sweet pullet and a handful of so/so sized, testosterone charged cockerels. I don't think any are still feather legged. One of my RIR hens is notably more solid and the rest have attitude issues, so I might be happier culling the rest and keeping the one hen and trying another batch.

BB roo over BR hen I've been happier with. Slow sexual maturity, avg growth rate but nicely sized when we processed. Much larger than the same aged BB X RIR roos. Inside though, the BBXRIRs had testes the size of walnuts as opposed to the BBXBRs which were like pea-sized. We'll be hatching more of the BBXBRs.

We're also going to do at least 1 hatch of BB roo over Cuckoo Marans hens in the Spring.

Can't give specifics on feed, but any increase wasn't drastic enough to be noted. Once they were feathered enough, they went out to free range with the general population all day. We just gave them their own house for the night. When we processed the roos, we moved the pullets into the big house. We've another group in the smaller house now, but only a couple of BBXRIRs in that bunch.

We've got a small batch of CX going right now. I'm planning on using the tractor from them for the Spring BBXBRs and BBXCMs. I have a feeling the bit of confinement will give just enough boost for me to be happy with one of the sexlink crosses.

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