Some advice on raising birds for meat please?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Jocasta, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. Jocasta

    Jocasta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 8, 2011
    I'm in the UK and may struggle to get certain breeds that most of you guys come across but here goes.

    From what I've been reading over here, the best birds for meat would be a Ross Cobb or Hubbard. Apparently though, these birds get to heavy to mate naturally and I'm hoping to keep two hens and a roo to breed my own meat.

    I've just read: http://homemade.truepath.com/chickens.htm and it talks about a Cornish x Rock as the ideal meat bird as they don't get quite so heavy, quite as quickly as a pure Cornish.

    Couple of questions. Firstly, is the "Rock" it's referring to meaning a Barred Rock? And secondly, if I were to get Cornish cock with rock hens and incubated their eggs, would those resulting chicks be the same as the Cornish x Rock referred to in the article?

    Also, if anyone has any other suggestions, ideally I want the birds to be table ready as soon as possible (with natural fertilization that is).

    Apologies for any naivity. I've had chickens for a while but only as layers. I'm liking the idea of breeding our own meat so would love any tips people could offer.

    TIA
     
  2. ChikeeMomma

    ChikeeMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2009
    Mid Michigan
    The Hubbard and Cobb are strains of the Cornish Rock Xs. The parent birds do not look like the offspring (Cornish Rock X). The Cornish Rock X is heavier than the parent stock. The regular Cornish is it's own breed as is the White Rock. And it is not as easy as crossing a Cornish and White Rock -- if only it were. [​IMG] They are both heavier laying breeds. You are able to buy parent stock of the Cornish Rock Xs, but it is extremely, extremely expensive and I am sure is usually reserved for big time farms. Many people on here raise Buff Orpingtons, Rocks (Barred, White, Partridge), Black Australorps, etc for both meat and eggs. They don't have quite the meat on them as a Cornish X, but do reproduce naturally. Some people have kept a couple of their Cornish Xs back, but have taken great care to keep them from becoming too large, too fast. There are also a couple of people who have some backyard breeding programs for meat birds going on right now. Doesn't KatyTheChickenLady have a secret mix strain going on that produce some nice hefty breeds???[​IMG]

    I'll see if I can find the threads for you.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011
  3. ChikeeMomma

    ChikeeMomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 29, 2009
    Mid Michigan
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    The pure meat birds not only get too heavy to mate, but they generally eat themselves to death at a very early age. Their skeleton does not grow fast enough to support their great weight or their heart or other internal organs just give out. You can raise and breed these birds, but you have to keep them on a very restricted diet. Even then, you will probably get a high mortality rate.

    The Cornish Rock is a breed developed for fast meat production. Cornish and rocks were used to develop this breed, but it is not a first generation cross of Cornish and Rock. That cross was many generations ago. After many generations of selective breeding, the current separate breed has been developed. It is one of those meat birds that generally start to die or become crippled after two months unless they are on a very restricted diet. The White Rock, not Barred Rock, was the Rock used for the initial cross. That was to get the white plumage. If you pluck a white bird, you get a prettier carcass because you cannot see the pin feathers like you can on a dark feathered bird. They are still there but you cannot see them as easily. If you cross a Cornish and a Rock, you will get a decent dual-purpose bird, probably not real great on egg laying but decent for eggs and pretty good for meat, but it is nowhere near the Cornish Cross breed that has been developed by many generations of selective breeding.

    The Cornish, on the other hand, is a heritage breed. They are like any other heritage breed and will not eat themselves to death after a couple of months. They do have a large percentage of breast meat. That is why they were one of the ancestors of the Cornish Rock.

    There is a thread on here about people trying to take Freedom Rangers, another meat bird, and use them for breeding. It might be instructive to you.

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=318364

    You can try the restrictive feeding approach and try to raise your own, but I think you will be better off just selecting one or more dual purpose breeds, like the Sussex, Dorking, Rocks or many others. Or possibly just purchasing meat bird chicks and planning on processing them at age 7 to 8 weeks before they start to die from overeating.
     
  5. Jocasta

    Jocasta Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 8, 2011
    Thanks so much everyone! That's very useful information. I thought it sounded a bit easy - darn!

    Getting chicks is a great idea but I just can't seem to find anywhere that sells them! Argh! Even sourcing fertile eggs was a complete faff! And £10 for just six shipped eggs is a lot of money, considering a 50% hatch rate is good for shipped eggs. Heck, my local supermarket sells fully grown, killed and dressed birds for less than that! This is supposed to be a money making endeavour. May need to go back to the drawing board. I'll contact the guy who's selling me my eggs and see where he got his parent stock from.

    Many thanks guys, I'm amazed at the wealth of knowledge on this forum and can't believe I didn't discover this place sooner!

    Cheers!
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I should have given you these links earlier. They may help you understad a bit how the system works.

    Broiler Chicken Videos



     
  7. wingsofglory

    wingsofglory Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Palmer Alaska
    Check out a newer meat bird bred to be pasture raised and stays healthy - it is called by various names like "Freedom Ranger" "Colored Ranger" "Colored Free Range Broilers." These are from the French Label Rouge free-range program, and so might be available in the UK, as the parent stock is in France.

    http://www.purelypoultry.com/free-range-broilers-p-704.html has a picture of the Red ones. Tricolor are like crele color.

    There are several threads on here on the Rangers. Most report they like them better than CornishX.

    However, they do not reproduce themselves exactly, being a secret cross. Several threads here on people trying to introduce their genes to Heritage stock they have already have.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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