Sustainable meat Flock

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by HorsebackandHappy, Jul 6, 2011.

  1. HorsebackandHappy

    HorsebackandHappy Out Of The Brooder

    May 23, 2011
    Hi! We are looking into getting some meat birds, I just learned a couple weeks ago how to process my own (had some extra roos) and now that I know how I would like to look into getting some meat birds. what I want is something that can be kept and bred so that I don't have to continually buy them. I live in KS, so we have some hot weather (100+) in July and August and it gets down to zero or a little lower sometimes in Jan.

    We currently have Production Reds, a couple Black Austrolorps, A couple Barred Rocks, and some Easter Eggers. We butchered 3 roos. 1 barred rock, and 2 easter eggers, all were about 5 months old. We ate the barred rock the night he was butchered and he was TOUGH! We have not eaten the 2 easter eggers yet, but they are pretty scrawny lol! I just butchered them today, and put them in the freezer.

    I don't care if it takes a while to grow, but I want good tender meat! Not tough meat! We free range our birds but grain is always available to them. Non of our roos had a ton of excess fat, the easter eggers were REALLY lean.

    What breed of bird would you recommend?
  2. they'reHISchickens

    they'reHISchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 31, 2008
    Everyone recommends *resting* the carcass for a few days before cooking to tenderize the meat so your immediate supper may have been the cause of tough meat. Freezing is supposed to work, too.

    We started with EEs and they are definitely scrawny compared to a dual purpose or heavy breed. However they are HUGE compared to leghorns. Now that we have marans and Orpingtons, the marans are a nice size but those orps are big boys when you let them grow.
    I don't think you are going to find much fat on any free range bird.
  3. Saltysteele

    Saltysteele Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2011
    yes, you need to rest them 24-36 hours before eating; a must.

    they don't age like beef does, but rigor mortis does set in and they are like shoe leather, unless you put them in a slow cooker or something slow and low like that. you need to give them time for the muscles to relax again

    i did the same thing a couple weeks ago. we've been butchering chickens for forever, but have never (for whatever reason) tried eating them the same day.

    the rest went into the cooler to chill overnight, then were frozen the next day. a week later i tried another, and it was tender, just like it should have been.

    you have to rest them. put them in a tub of cold water for a couple hours until they're fully chilled, then put them in a cooler, fridge, or whatever you have to keep them cold for a day or so. then freeze.

    as far as what type of chicken, i'm going to try my light sussex. i've got 11 chicks that are a month old now, and they have been growing like nobody's business. i bought freedom rangers a month old a couple months ago (the birds mentioned above), and these light sussex chicks are at least the same size as those FR's were. we'll see how long it takes to get full sized. my rooster and hens are some big, meaty birds.

    i've thought of breeding my rooster with some RIR's, as I understand you'll get Red Star sussex, which are supposed to be pretty good.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
  4. Mike32

    Mike32 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 16, 2009
    Pecos, NM
    I've read that Delawares are a really good meat bird also. Are white rocks any good for the same purpose?
  5. beanmcnulty

    beanmcnulty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2011
    Baltimore, OH
    Quote:I bought some of the Whitmore Farms Dels and they are 6 weeks and doing great- much bigger than my first crop of hatchery BOs. They are not cheap but I, like you want to be sustainable so i have plans to use them as the start of my own breeding. I also like to have them be a heritage pure breed but if you dont care about that sort of thing there are some really reasonably priced meat birds out there such as from Noll's in PA:
    Noll's Poultry Farm
    Kleinfeltersville, PA 17039
    Someone posted they are $0.60 on here.
  6. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    I am doing Delawares for my sustainable meat flock. They are what the meat industry used before the Cornish X came along and the roos can get up to 11 pounds live weight and the Hens are 8 to 9 liveweight. I was told that they are a good size for broilers by 16 weeks which is not much longer than the Cornish with the birds averaging 3 to 5 pounds dressed out. Sounds good to me they will be going into the hatcher and I will be picking my breeders to start my flock so I can have good meaties for next year. Can't wait to see how they go.
  7. LuckyDozen Farm

    LuckyDozen Farm Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 29, 2010
    South Texas
    We have had good results with the Black Broilers that Ideal Poultry offers..They don't grow as fast as the CX but they do free range better and don't have the leg problems. They get big pretty fast and they actually lay somewhat decently. They lay a really cool looking light-brown speckled egg and while they don't lay as often they have really big eggs. Go figure!! They breed well and as far as I can tell after 3 generations they still have the same qualities. I would say they put on weight faster than any Delaware, and the roos weigh in at about 5-6 pounds at about 12 weeks. Not bad I'd say. Their egg is so unique, we don't butcher the hens unless we have too many..mostly the roos.
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    The toughness comes from age. They are a lot older than the meat birds you get from the grocery so they are tougher and have more flavor. The way you avoid a tough older chicken is to cook it long and slow with moisture and low heat. I've cooked some old roosters that came out very tender, but it too several hours at a low heat and with moisture. A crock pot can be useful, but so can an oven set on 325, not 350 or above. Just cook it a lot longer than you normally would. And keep it moist.

    Any of the true dual purpose birds would work. The Delaware, White Rock, and New Hampshire were the main meat birds before the current broilers were developed. The main reason was that the light colored feathers gave a prettier carcass when the bird was plucked. With the darker birds, you can see the pin feathers a lot easier. So I'd recommend you look at these breeds or something else with white or buff colored feathers.

    Before the current broilers were developed, certain strains of these breeds were developed to give better growth and body composition for meat. But don't expect that from hatchery birds. If you don't actively select birds for breeding based on the traits you want, you quickly lose those traits. Hatcheries do not select their egg laying birds for meat qualities. They are more interested in color, very general appearance, and they naturally select for egg laying ability since they hatch more eggs from chickens that lay a lot of eggs.

    If I were doing what you are considering, I'd probably look at the New Hampshire first, with the Delaware a close second. But you could make any of the dual purpose breeds work. You just need to eat the smaller birds and breed the larger. With proper selection of breeders, you can improve the size over just a few generaions.
  9. LilyD

    LilyD Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 24, 2011
    Bristol, VT
    Quote:I agree totally there is a very big difference between the hatchery birds and those that are bred by breeders. I have been talking to breeders a ton over the last few months to try and get my project off and running and They told me their birds are averaging 11 pounds fully grown for cockerels and 9 for hens. That is because they are breeding for size and keeping the largest birds from each breeding to add back to their flock so that each time they breed they are improving their breeding. If you start with eggs from breeders who do this you are starting with much better birds to begin with. They have told me you can do the same thing with hatchery stock but it will take much longer to breed and get the results that they have. I guess it's all in what you are looking for and what you are willing to do for it.
  10. cubalaya

    cubalaya Overrun With Chickens

    Nov 19, 2008
    central virginia
    we went with the delawares because they are the best of the composite american breeds. we already tried some crosses, breeding cubalaya roosters to barred rock and rhode island red hens. while these crosses were good sized and had very good taste, they were unsustainable in the next generations. the delawares or delmarvas were 'the' broiler breed in the 1940's and 50's with broiler houses in delaware , maryland, and virginia. the hens lay a good amount of large brown eggs. sustainable and dual purpose.

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