raising heritage Delawares for meat, eggs and breeding

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by rottlady, Apr 11, 2016.

  1. rottlady

    rottlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have read some of the OLD Delaware threads but see nothing super current on here, although I admit I did not real all 289 pages of one of them!

    I did read the study done comparing hatchery Delawares to commercial broilers, but I think the study was lacking a bit as most who raise heritage breeds for meat seem to (those I have spoken to anyhow) slaughter at 18-24 weeks old not the same age as the broilers. These same people also tend to feed a lower protein feed- 15-18% protein than commercial broilers are raised on

    I bought 12 hatching eggs from Chickcharney farm in NC and hope to order in some chicks in late May. Their birds and philosophy seem to fit what we wanted.

    The plan is to process those that will be processed at 20 weeks. This farm's birds average a 4.5 lb dressed carcass at that age raised on an 18% feed and pasture.

    We did not want a fast growing eating/pooping monstrosity commercial bird that could not grow to maturity (without becoming crippled) and reproduce and we wanted a heritage breed and the Delaware seemed to fit us best.

    Here is a snip from the Chickcharney farm website
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  2. Tabasco Jack

    Tabasco Jack Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am raising Delawares as my meat bird also. Bought hatching eggs from a breeder a couple of years ago but due to life, I wasn't able to start producing meat birds until this year. I've got about a dozen hens and 2 roos that are 1st and 2nd generation. And a mixture of eggs in the incubator due out in another week and a half.

    Looking forward to seeing how this goes. Takes longer than Cornish X but tastes better also.
     
  3. rottlady

    rottlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our 8 Dels are 4 weeks old now, here are their weights so far
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  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Try a few at 14 weeks for the grill. 14-20 weeks fryers and over that is roasters. To wait for birds to get large your omitting options on how you can cook them. Sure these Delaware will be 2.5 to 3 lbs dressed at 14 weeks but you've used little feed in comparison to letting them grow to 6 months plus. They don't consume adult portions until 12 weeks old. 12-14 weeks is most economical feed to meat conversion and who doesn't like grilled chicken?
     
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    http://livestockconservancy.org/images/uploads/docs/ALBCchicken_assessment-1.pdf

    This has good info on selecting breeders for meat. Buckeye conservancy work, here and other places state that weights on birds at 6 weeks will determine your fastest maturing. It's to note that your largest adult birds typically are not the fastest to mature. With selection to breed forward you can increase dress weights of flock for grilling age (broiler) and right up to early roasting age. Your largest adult birds will start to put on weight and surpass the quicker to mature 8 months to a year old.

    http://livestockconservancy.org/images/uploads/docs/cookingwheritagechicken.pdf

    Good article on cooking methods by age of bird.

    And this is a thread where we are attempting to get some decent data of various dual purpose breeds and peoples project meat birds. Sustainable meat/dual purpose. Maybe we will see you there? I've a smaller standard bred breed like your Delaware. Will be selecting breeders with fastest maturity. Sure it will lower the adult weight and take away from Standard of Perfection. But that standard is flawed. The purpose of dual purpose is eggs and MEAT! To work weights by adult ages only your taking away the meat quality of the line in my opinion. Well, not quality of meat rather utility value of the breed. Quality as in fine or coarse texture is by breed. Jersey Giant, Brahma and other Asiatic breeds are coarse textured. Dorking would be very fine texture and then everything in between. I'm a sucker for Plymouth Rock. Not the best meat bird by far and the variety I'd settled on is the smallest of the breed. Much work to do for improvement. I say this so if you join the thread you wont laugh when my weights start getting posted. They will be pitiful but the goal is to work them up with selection and bringing in a black Rock of Blue variety for overall size improvement.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/1076131/sustainable-meat-standard-bred-dual-purpose-bird-thread
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  6. rottlady

    rottlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    none of the Del breeders have talked to suggest butchering before 18 weeks old with 20 weeks being ideal if selecting breeders from them as you need adult feathers as well to see SOP traits
     
  7. rottlady

    rottlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I only have 8 this batch. 4 to keep 4 to eat. Bigger batch next spring all to eat
     
  8. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Try getting a few weights on them at younger ages. At 6 weeks on the largest are your fastest to mature. If you don't like grilled chicken and only want roasters 20 weeks + is the time to butcher. The fastest to mature should still be largest birds at 5-6 months. A few slower to mature will start to surpass them from then on. You can take a weight at 14 weeks without cooking the bird. Tag or identify your largest to provide yourself with information when your selecting for breeders. How did the largest of each sex finish out at roasting age? Are they still the largest and so on. Breeding to the SOP you have much to look for when selecting breeders. This would just be another piece of information to evaluate. With breeding you can move a flock in any direction and still be within the SOP. A faster maturing bird is desired if one of your goals is meat was what I was trying to convey. I really like grilled chicken in summer. We butcher a bunch of the cockerel breeder culls 12-14 weeks. That means we are butchering the smallest. Butcher weight at that age is close to 1.5 lbs less than live weight excluding giblets.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2016
  9. Tabasco Jack

    Tabasco Jack Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I didn't weigh the first hatch until they were six weeks old. Their average weight was 523 grams, 7 male, 5 female and one not sure.

    Here's my 2nd hatch at 3 weeks

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  10. rottlady

    rottlady Chillin' With My Peeps

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    click on the chart image for readable version

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    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
    1 person likes this.

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