When are they big enough to eat?


9 Years
Apr 8, 2010
South Central Texas
I tried doing the search and I think I'm just not putting in the right words or something.

When do you usually eat your birds? I'm sure it will differ from the designated meat birds to dual purpose?


10 Years
Feb 13, 2009
Los Gatos, CA
I raise dual purpose, and I wait until they're between 4-5 lbs live weight, which comes out to between 3-4 lbs dressed. I like that weight in a dressed bird.

What AGE that is is wildly variable with DP birds. It can vary from 12 to 18 weeks+. I have some 20 week birds now that aren't there yet. (not happy about that).

I don't mind the variability that much, because I slaughter my own birds and it means I can stretch out the work over a number of weeks.


10 Years
Mar 22, 2009
Southern Wisconsin
You can eat them at whatever age and weight you want to eat them. The older birds make great stews, slow-roasters, etc. Everything depends on how you cook them. Older, bigger birds take longer at lower temp to cook or they get dry and stringy. Younger than 1 year is better for dual purpose, and younger than 4 months for cronish Xs. Our DP breeds are usually butchered at 6 months (4-5 lbs), and our Cornish Xs at 3.5 months (over 10-14 lbs apiece for the county fair).


11 Years
Aug 2, 2008
South Central KY
Depends on what you're raising, broilers, (and what kind, Cornish X, Freedom ranger, Red broiler...) or heritage/dual purpose breeds, and time will vary with breed.

C. X, you can start processing any time after they get feathered out well, the small ones dress out nicely for Cornish Game hens you see at the store. I think that's at around 4 weeks. The supermarket birds are anywhere from 5-6 weeks old when processed, most home grown ones are kept to 8 weeks, 10 weeks for roasters. I have kept some longer, for even bigger roasters, but just like any other chicken, if you wait too long, you'll have a crock-pot bird. That's not a bad thing, I love crock-pot chicken, but you just need to know what to expect at what stage.

I haven't raised those for quite awhile, though I recently had some undersized birds left from a commercial grow out, that a friend gave me. Once I got them, they grew fast, most of them, I think they had just been the less aggressive ones and got pushed away from the feed.

Mostly I raise dual-purp, and usually I butcher at 20-25 weeks if I want a big, meaty bird. You can butcher sooner if you like, the older they are, the more they need long, slow, cooking at low temps. If you want a fryer or a broiler, you need to butcher them young. They won't be very big, but they'll be more tender, allowing for faster cooking.

If you're raising dual purp, read up on cooking methods for older birds, that'll give you a better idea when to butcher for what purpose.

Don't forget you need to let the meat rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours before freezing or cooking. This is useful for any bird, more so with older ones.


In the Brooder
9 Years
Feb 18, 2010
I had the same question. My first batch of CX are 7 weeks old today and the biggest male weighs 9lbs live. Do you think I should let him go another week?

the simple life

11 Years
May 2, 2008
Weymouth, Massachusetts
That is a good size. Its a tough call but I would be afraid of losing it before you get to process it.
I hate when one dies the day before I am suppose to process it. At nine pounds I personally would not risk it.


12 Years
Nov 8, 2007
Lafayette, Indiana
We had 18 and this was our first time having meaties. We butchered 10 of them at 9 weeks old and the average, dressed weight was 6.75 pounds.

The other 8 we did last weekend. The smallest was 6.5 pounds after processing and the largest was a wopping 11.65 pounds!!!!!!

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