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Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by YellowChicken, Apr 8, 2012.
Any heavy breeds except the hybrids.
My White Rocks and New Hamps were laying at 5 mo.
I assume you are talking about maturity to butcher weight, right? If so, this is something I've been working on for a few years now. Basically, you will not find a purebred chicken that will hold a candle to Cornish cross or Freedom Ranger when it comes to efficiency.
That said, here are the results I've found. We started with White-laced Red Standard Cornish and Buff Cornish. I had the brilliant idea that if I kept purebred color strains and then crossed the colors to produce meat birds, it might increase the hybrid vigor of the resulting chicks. This was not the case by any measure I've been able to devise. All of the Cornish chicks matured to a dressed weight of about 2.5lbs for pullets and 4lbs. for cockerels at 14 weeks of age. They were tough as the dickens, though the flavor was excellent, and the females weren't quite as chewy as the males.
Then, last year, my mother got some nice quality Buckeye breeding stock, and we culled her roosters at 14 weeks so that we could compare. The Buckeyes also averaged about 4lbs. dressed (all males). They were also tough, but not quite as much as the male Cornish. The taste was even better than that of the Cornish birds.
Now, I know this is not what you asked, but have you considered Pekin ducks? The run-of-the-mill hatchery stock I picked up last year reaches a dressed weight of 4lbs. in 7 weeks. The two females we held back went on to start laying at 5 months and layed an egg a day throughout the winter and spring... in fact, they're still going strong.
Our breeding trio has produced 50 healthy ducklings from my incubator so far this spring, with a hatching rate of about 85%. And they are utterly, utterly delicious-- I much prefer duckling to chicken meat.
This is one crazy productive bird-- I mean, seriously, show me a chicken breed that can do what these three ducks have done in the last 365 days. I'm a convert, and if Mom didn't love her chickens so much, I'd switch exclusively to waterfowl. They're tough,they're healthy, they lay like crazy, the eggs are huge and delicious, and the babies reach butcher weight in 7 weeks. Those are some impressive numbers to beat.
I had considered the New Hampshire as it was developed to be a very fast maturing breed originally. The breed today is apparently, according to what I've read, not the same. Not sure about the german variety though.
Cornish, not hybrids, are not fast maturing or so I've read. I've never eaten duck or duck eggs so not sure if I would like them or not. Anything you could compare them to? Pretty impressive stats though. My family loves fried chicken. Have you tried fried duck?
We roast our ducks for the most part. Duck meat is totally dark, even the breast. I would compare it to a bizarre hybrid of chicken and pork. Crispy roasted duck skin is basically meat candy.
Well, you've got me ready to try some. I will have to get a few pekins Thanks for the info!
x2 on the pekin deal-- although the only fowl currently on the place are breeding stock cornish that I have been selling the snot out of hatching eggs from...
The only caveat with Pekins (well, waterfowl in general) is that they're a pain to pluck. The Featherman is, sadly, not up to the job, so I have to do them by hand. Also, scalding at 145F won't do the job; it needs to be about 165F.
don't pluck then... resort to skinning as we do...
LOL-- no way! I'm not going to sacrifice the tastiest part of the duck.