When breeding..

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Chickenheadmate, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. Chickenheadmate

    Chickenheadmate Songster

    Mar 4, 2018
    Mansfield, TX
    How do you go about making meatier chickens flock?
    What do you look for what do you check?
    Width and/or height?
    When do you cull? First round at 3 and then at 6 months?
    Have never actually hatched eggs but will let my BCM couple hatch eggs.

    Will like to get as much information as possible. :wee
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Crossing the Road

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    This is a good question. I will be watching to see what you find out. I tried last year to breed meatier birds, but didn't get to find out how it would work, as I lost most of my flock to three different predator attacks. (I think one was coyote, the other two mink.) So this year I ordered chicks - some of them were Red Rangers, some a "heavy assorted" mix, and a few breeds. One of my cockerels filled out faster than the others, but wasn't a Red Ranger - I don't know what he is. Anyway, I am hoping to keep him to breed and see if his offspring fill out that quickly, too. It will be fun to see - if I can keep them alive, that is...
    Geena and Chickenheadmate like this.
  3. Poultrybreeder

    Poultrybreeder Crowing

    Apr 21, 2017
    New Mexico
    It really depends on the breed, and what you are looking for. I personally prefer more width than height, but that is just me. I would keep a journal of the live weight vs carcass weight, as well as butchering age, to see how much is actually meat on the bird. And as far as culling goes, I would wait until the birds are about 3 and 6 months, so that you can really see how they are fairing with their growth rate and live weight. Another factor to consider is where do you want the most meat to be? Like in the breast for white meat, or in the legs for dark meat.
    Geena and Ridgerunner like this.
  4. Chickenheadmate

    Chickenheadmate Songster

    Mar 4, 2018
    Mansfield, TX
    I prefer more breast meat, the thing I don't know is how I should go about picking the one with the most breast meat. I don't think it's by looking at it nor by live weight. But again, I'm not sure and would like to learn how. :)
    Geena likes this.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I think you have to first decide what you are looking for. Poultrybreeder mentioned some. Do you have a preferred butcher age? They put on meat at different rates. One member on here likes 14 weeks, I prefer 23 weeks. At 14 weeks mine are still mostly bone, his have a lot more meat on them. You can't just go by appearance either. Some birds have so many feathers they look a lot bigger than they are. The problem is that you really don't know how much meat is on the bones and under the feathers until you butcher them, then they are no good for breeding. You just have to do the best you can. It won't be that bad.

    Pay attention to the pullets and hens too. While there are quite a few differences in size and body confirmation between males and females, the female is contributing half the genetics. If meat is your main goal I'd select the larger female offspring from your best males.

    I don't envision you hatching hundreds of birds each year to try to get a lot to choose from. You can still make clear progress, it just won't be as fast. I only hatch about 45 chicks a year. As I eat my females also that keeps me in meat for a year. I generally wait until the pullets have been laying a while to select from them, so they are often 8 months old or even older. But with the cockerels when they reach an age I'm willing to start butchering (16 weeks), especially if I am running out of meat in the freezer, I start with the ones I know do not meet my goals. That usually gets me down to only 2 or 3 to chose from. I only keep one male so I make a decision. At 23 weeks I butcher all I have left including the ones that almost made it.

    One of the benefits is not that your largest birds are really large, though that is nice. To me after a very few cycles your worst birds, the ones you will eat, become much better.
    Geena and bobbi-j like this.
  6. Geena

    Geena Songster

    Aug 17, 2014
    You've already gotten some excellent advice here.
    As to selecting the ones with the most breast meat- some of your grow outs will be obviously smaller or scrawnier overall, as ridgerunner says you can eliminate those birds from consideration first. Of the ones still in the running, pick them up and actually feel the breast to determine which is carrying the most breast meat. Before long you will develop an eye for it. I find the ones with more breast to them often stand a little more upright, head up breast forward and you can often see a cleft over the keel bone indicating greater muscle mass there.
    If you are breeding for meat only I suggest making your selections at around the time you plan to butcher. You want birds that will grow to be a good size at that particular time. Some may eventually go on to be larger/heavier at 6 or 12 months, but that's not helpful to you if you plan to process them at 4 months or so.
    Ridgerunner likes this.
  7. Mosey2003

    Mosey2003 Crowing

    Apr 13, 2016
    NC IL
    What I would do, if I were trying to take a dual purpose line towards meat is:
    Hatch as many as possible.
    Band them all with numbers.
    Cull anything with a defect as soon as it is seen, and especially runty/failure to thrive chicks.
    Probably start weighing them at three weeks and cull/mark anything not keeping up.
    Make your final cut at whatever age you plan to butcher. Keep the heaviest with the best breast, you'll need to feel them up to see. Keep the two best cockerels and four best pullets.
    Evaluate again once they're breeding age, then breed your best cockerel to the pullets, and do it all again. I would probably take the best pullets and put them back under their sire and the best cockerel back over the mothers.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  8. Chickenheadmate

    Chickenheadmate Songster

    Mar 4, 2018
    Mansfield, TX
    Wow. Very infornative. Thanks :)
  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
  10. Chickenheadmate

    Chickenheadmate Songster

    Mar 4, 2018
    Mansfield, TX

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