Sustainable Meat / Standard Bred Dual Purpose Bird Thread.


9 Years
Oct 16, 2010
The vision of this thread is for a collection of attempts and works in progress in making a sustainable meat bird. The birds can be of standard breed or hybrids being bred toward a sustainable standard line. The goal of this thread is to find or be the collection of data in working toward a sustainable bird that can achieve market butcher weight of 4 lbs in 12 weeks. This is achievable in future and butcher weights of 4 lbs in 14 weeks are certainly around today. Reason for 14 weeks and under is that age is generally considered the outside edge for tender broiler bird. If you can't grill the bird at butcher age then market demand and aim of this thread is not met.

Lets add hybrids too. It will be a slow moving thread so those making pure cornish crosses or any other hybrid like White Rock over New Hampshire for example please join in.

There is an ongoing thread Breeding for Production...Eggs and Meat! It has a conversational air with pages to poor over to find actual data. This thread is meant to be slow moving and a chronicle of progression...patience in posting and attempting to say more focused for condensed form. It would be appreciated if people could use both threads as to keep this one to focus.


To begin or mark thread say what project your working on or are starting.

Anecdotal weights are discouraged. To post in this thread it's asked that actual measurements be taken and reported. Photos are encouraged, live weights at 6, 8, 10 and 12 weeks and older suggested and butcher weight with age a requisite.

I ask that there be no discussion as to if hybrid or standard or CornishX birds are better. It is no contest that the feed to meat conversion of the modern CornishX is the advent of mans genetic manipulation.

There will be no debunking of a persons farming practices. Opinions of humane conditions are just that- Opinions. Actual evidence of abuse are another matter but not a focus of this thread.

This statement of general guidelines of thread is to have in print a basic focus so topic does not run off course. Weights and measure of time and feed are what matters. Opinions not so much.

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9 Years
Oct 16, 2010
Sticky Area
for informative links and notes for direction to reported data.
Updated as needed.

1 Google Doc Spread sheet.
Big thanks to Hiltonizer for uploading to Google Docs; lpatelski for putting together a spread sheet that can be used for weights and growth curve and all the way to feed costs and conversion to meat. Preview and general how to use Post #27.

Age range for broiler, fryer, roaster and a bit on cooking.

Great article on selecting breeders for meat utility. Based on Buckeye conservation work.

Study on Delaware for meat using hatchery stock.

Recently I've been looking for a standard bred bird of today that maintained most of that early maturing trait of old. I can tell you Delaware of today do not. A breeder of Delaware that in a decade breeding for standard and emphasis on meat production told me cockerels butcher weight of 3.5 lbs average in 15 weeks. Clearly not early maturing. New Hampshire of today I've not gotten weights in age range of this threads scope (broiler age 14 weeks max). What can be said is those who breed both these breeds to standard all agree the New Hampshire mature earlier. With the recent conservancy effort on Buckeye that dual purpose breed looks good too. Link 3 above reports 6 lbs live weight cockerels in 14 weeks.

Those overseas may want to work on bringing the AustralOrp back to good utility standing. Cook was proud of his Orpington and liked the utility of the Buff made soon after but was impressed what had been done with his original black down under.

These meat pages are full of threads will people breeding CornishX or Red Broilers or any combination you can think of in attempts to get a sustainable bird of good dual purpose quality. These attempts either don't attain goals set and are ended or for any reason very little info for actual measure can be found. Hopefully this thread can capture real data for those searching for exactly this thing. My opinions on crossing to a hatchery "Orpington", "RIR" or what have you is taking a step backward. It's of common knowledge that hatchery "standard" breeds are not to standard and body conformations are pinched in rear and geared for egg laying not putting on meat. It's of my opinion also that Jersey Giants and Brahma which are notoriously slow to mature birds and noted to have course meat are not a good choice to use either. A serious attempt should not use inferior stock but who knows. Perhaps someone will make an Easter Egger that buffs up like Swartzenegger. That reference may be generational anymore as the tone Governor pales to Conan so let's say Dwayne Johnson.

My choice of hybrid to breed forward to sustainable line would be the Pioneer, aka Rainbow, aka Dixie Rainbow. It is said to outperform the red and black broilers in meat and is also a great layer. The genetics one wants in a dual purpose sustainable line is all there in this one hybrid. I believe all can be achieved breeding this forward on itself. The only real decision is what color to make it. Can you imagine a yellow or yellow and gold dual purpose bird? It would fit the bill nicely. Teasing out the white of the Rainbow chicken may prove harder but a white broiler from them is also attainable. Luck or numbers hatched or your personal choice is all there is determining the color for line.

Good Luck All!
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9 Years
Oct 16, 2010
Spring is nearly here so let's get this thing started. If I had the permission to use the land where I currently live to make more coops I'd get some Pioneer this spring. Nearly unlimited land here but no need to push limits as to it's use. Already working on a breed so will use this as a kind of standard for this thread. This breed will never come close to what the goal of this thread is. I had thoughts of ditching it and going New Hampshire too. Well, I've got them and made contact for better stock of same breed this spring...going to stick with them but also want to see this thread though. So again, these will be a representation of slow maturing dual purpose breed. Know that the Silver is on the small side of standard adult weights. This past year two cockerels of hatched where far faster to mature than others. They have low wings. Largest cockerel with correct wing was lankier in frame and now at 9 months is surpassing the faster maturing in size.

Dual Purpose Breed- standard bred Silver Penciled Plymouth Rock.

Goal/Aim- Even though this is a fancy variety and the least likely of Plymouth Rock to be in this thread my goal is to breed it with utility in mind. Breeders for generations are breeding to adult weights which by it's very nature takes away from the intent of the breed they are working with. Look at the Delaware downfall and lost potential of New Hampshire. I'll be breeding for the best butcher weights in broiler age at the sacrifice of adult standard weight. Plymouth Rock like many breeds was meant for utility. All aspects of the standard will be in mind excepting cockerel weight of 7.5 lbs and cock weight of 9 lbs. This variety already struggles with those weights. My work will bring my line to disqualifications in show but I don't agree with that standard as it overlooks the original intent of the breed. Fully expect full pound or more loss in end weights but a gain of 1/2 lbs at market age. A pretty dual purpose bird that cockerels in free range conditionn will dress at 3 lbs in 12 weeks and 6.5 lbs grown cockerels or 5 lbs dressed as roasters. Hens laying 200 eggs per year. End weights of cock birds likely to not even reach 8 lbs.

Will have first hatch Easter weekend.
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Our Roost

9 Years
Jan 13, 2011
ScottsVille, michigan
First off, let me state that a lot of well known heritage breeds were created from utility breeding of sorts. Kind of like what came first, the chicken or the egg. Creating a good utility bird common to a farmers needs verses climate and other concerns is what drove them to some of the great breeds we have today. A lot has been lost over time and do not represent the original creation or utility of what was created. Before anyone can even get started with utility breeding, one has to ask themselves what their intent is. Just what is it you are trying to accomplish? This can be simple or complex. Selecting birds based on their performance, appearance or heritage can make all the difference in the world or quickly become a waste of time and effort. If you don't start out with the right mindset, your efforts may be futile!
Lets not confuse hybrids with outcrossing. To me, using parent birds used in the making of heritage breeds is the best way to strengthen utility back into an already existing breed. I guess what I am trying to state is that the terms are many and the process can be very complex. Best to become book smart first before you create a better recipe for success!


Nov 8, 2015
near Hotlanta
I love the idea of this thread. My project is to produce White Dorking capons which is a slightly different focus, but I believe it would benefit from the same level of critique and goal setting. Just to clarify... the goal of 4 lbs at 12 weeks is carcass weight and not live weight. Correct?

I'm waiting on an order of White Dorking chicks from a top breeder to begin my project to produce Christmas Capons. These will form the basis of my breeder flock and only severely defective birds will be culled or caponized in the first year.

I'll also be growing out a test group of Silver Grey Dorking cockerels from Murray McMurray as a study group and to have capons ready to butcher for the 2016 holiday season. I don't expect these birds to come anywhere near the level of the White Dorkings but will allow me the chance to learn the technique of caponizing and growth patterns for the breed before I tackle more valuable birds.

My goals for this project are:
1) PRIMARY GOAL: to produce a superior tasting, finely textured, well proportioned, marketable capon valuing at $60 to $80 at Christmas
2) to develop hens that consistently go broody but can be broken up by frequent egg gathering
3) to produce high quality stewing hens at 2 or 3 years
4) to produce a well shaped carcass at some point between 6 and 14 weeks. Weight is not the concern here but rather a shapely carcass of marketable quality. This is rumored to have been the case in the 19th Century, so I hope the genetics are still there to bring it back.

This is potentially a valuable thread for people attempting to achieve specific production goals with their birds. I would like to see a short and concise list of specific mini goals for easy reference. I hope it goes well.

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6 Years
Sep 2, 2013
Grinder's Switch
Our primary goal is heavily muscled, large double breasted capons that exude exquisite flavors, thin crispy thin skin that harkens to the days when real meat birds could be had. Quick-Chix mean nothing to one who loves the deluxe quality of foul that may remain 'on the hoof' for 18 or more months, having not spent a minute in a freezer.

EDIT: I just noticed the post above mine...I'm wondering what sort of flavor a capon can have attained at 14 weeks?????????


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8 Years
Apr 30, 2011
Central Maine
Great idea for a thread, consolidation and standards of reporting are sorely needed. My experiment is a result of not being able to finding a lack of info, as people fail to adequately report on their findings.

With heritage breeds being largely lackluster, I thought I'd experiment with crossing.

I want to integrate chicks, hatching eggs, and eating eggs into our homestead income stream. The logical hen for that was the White Plymouth Rock as she's cold hearty for these Maine winters, can be the bottom half of Comets, and lays like gangbusters. She also has some blood in common with the industrial Cornish-X. My previous experience butchering male White Rocks tells me they dress around 4~lbs at 16 weeks, so not a terrible starting point.

With that decision being made, I added in a few White Laced Red Cornish and NH roosters. I want the results of this experiment to be infinitely replicable, so hatchery stock was used, be it from a lesser known hatchery not located in the Midwest.

In watching these birds mature, it became readily apparent that the NH is a much larger, faster growing bird. Their cross offspring should make for an interesting control when comparing to the Corn-Rock cross. The Cornishes, while slower growing, have a more desirable frame. One of each pictured.

I have attempted one hatch already, but that was largely a failure and no meat cross eggs survived. I have gone back to the drawing board on the incubator, but it is currently full with the Comet cross to meet demand for layers locally.

My objective this season however, is to raise a batch of both the NH/WRK and WLRC/WRK in tandem, comparing the results against one another, and hopefully determining if a hatchery stock F1 Corn-Rock is a meaningfully better DIY meat cross than a standard Comet and if further optimization is warranted.


5 Years
Nov 13, 2014
Southern Arizona
Interesting thread...You've given me a lot to contemplate. I've only been keeping chickens for a little more than year and am still learning so much.

My own focus will be in mainly working with Naked Neck Turkens. Given the desert climate where I live I've found this to be the best breed to work with. Half of my flock will consist of the best egg layers, and these birds tend to have leaner and more stream-lined physiques. The other half of my flock will consist of my meat birds, and I will be crossing my pure NNs with a variety of other breeds in the hopes of creating larger, meatier birds. My meat project is my primary project.

To date I've only bred my initial NN flock a single time with a focus on maintaining a pure line. I got 17 cockerels and from that group of hatchlings, currently about 18-19 weeks old, and I am in the process of culling all of the ones not possessing the meat qualities I covet: wide back, deep chest with lots of breast meat, strong, meaty thighs with a wide stance, and preferably a very small neck muff. Now that I have a solid group of "pure" NNs, I'm ready to start my meat breeding project, but I'm still working out the details. I know right now I'll be using my largest rooster and the largest hens, all of which displayed rapid growth and possess the meaty bodies I'm looking for.

My first planned cross will include:
1 - The largest and fastest growing rooster from my parent pure NN group. (Shiloh)

2 - Two large White Rock hens that showed rapid growth and ample breast meat development (Daisy & Dolly)

3 - One NN/Cochin cross hen (with the naked neck) from my NN parent group. (Duckie)

4 - One NN/Cochin cross hen (feathered neck) from my NN parent group. (Pippen)

5 - Two Beilefelder hens. (Gidget & Gretel)

6 - ?Possibly one Dorking-cross hen. (Zephyr)

When I'm ready to set up my breeding pen, I'll be getting current weights on each of this birds to add to the data I collected on them from hatch until roughly 24 weeks. I also have collected data on egg laying habits of all of the hens, including POL, egg weights and frequency. I'm a bit of a data junkie.

I'm also very much looking forward to learning how to caponize my extra cockerels this coming summer, and intend to turn my "rejected" cockerels into capons that I can age slowly for my first "capon experience".


9 Years
Oct 16, 2010
Capons? Why not. Certainly from a sustainable breed and once learned caponizing is repeatable.

Welcome AnthADacula

On other topic:

I suppose three guidelines are a lot to digest. They were put in bold and easily readable. Odd. I do ramble on so perhaps the scope of this thread was lost on some. Suggestions as to format and rewriting of scope are welcome. PM me with any thoughts you have and I suggest using other threads or Personal Messages for off topic discussion or critics.

One of the aims is to not muddle up pages of posts with little value to the focus of the thread. Please keep that in mind and use other threads or PM's as needed to achieve this aim.

Thank you

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Jan 22, 2016
Western, WI
I'm very interested in this myself. I started last spring with some Delaware's and wlr cornish with the idea of trying to cross them this year. I have had some bad luck right after I hatched out my first crosses my breeder Delaware rooster from Sandhill Preservation died. I'm not sure what happened to him he was just dead in the coup one morning last week. With that said the weights in the opening of the thread I think could be attainable. I wasn't able to weigh my stock at 12 weeks last year but did at 11 & 13 the average weight of 7 Delaware cockerels was 3.5 lbs at 11 weeks and at 13 weeks the same 7 were an average of 4.25. My Sandhill Rooster was 3.8 lbs at 11 weeks 4.8 at 13 and 6.0 at just over 14 weeks. I had high hopes for him, but to quote my Grandpa, "You know what they call that boy?"..... "Farming"

I set a dozen eggs Dec. 30th just for fun I was going to be much more organized come spring, 9 hatched on Jan. 20th there are two crosses and one pure.(2) Delaware x Wlr Cornish,(4) Delaware x SLW and (3)Delaware x Delaware. They are two weeks old and at this point the Delaware X SWL are developing the fastest. Which is funny because I didn't really have plans for that cross I just set the eggs to see what they'd look like. I have not weighed them but as far as feather development they are far ahead of the the rest.

I know this is a small sample and I had plans of a much larger hatch, but with my Delaware Rooster not around anymore I will have use my wlr cornish or Buff Wyandotte roosters. And hope one of my new Delaware chicks is a rooster and grows like his daddy did.

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