what is the best breed of chicken for meat

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i am wanting to buy chicks for meat birds what is the best breed for this? we would like large birds,and would only be for meat no eggs. when i say large birds i mean large breasted.

-- paul a coleman (wormfarmerone@yahoo.com), September 07, 2001


Paul, cornish cross, cornish cross, and cornish cross make the best meat chicken. That's what you see in the store with the nice, meaty breasts. A regular rooster takes five to six months to grow out, and doesn't have the big breasts. A cornish cross rooster on Purina Start and Grow for 3 weeks, and then Meatbuilder for 4 more, will reach 6 or seven pounds and be ready to process at 6 to 7 weeks. Enjoy!

-- Judy in IN (whileaway3@cs.com), September 07, 2001.

Of course, that's only if you actually LIKE the bland, nondescript flavor of Chickenstein - I mean, Cornish Cross. Or if you are satisfied to have to constantly feed and watch for heart and leg problems that tend to kill these birds early on. There was a discussion very recently of how exacting the feed needs are of these abnormally fast growing birds. Check the archives.

Personally, I like my chicken to taste like actual chicken. I like my dark meat to be dark meat, the breast meat to be smaller and not so dry, and I really really like the idea of not having to buy chicks EVERY SINGLE BATCH - the cornish cross is a three way cross and won't breed true. That's even if you don't butcher them at six to eight weeks, before they're fully mature.

Am I in the minority on this issue? You bet. Am I likely to change my opinion? Not a chance. I haven't bought grocery store chicken for years. Aside from issues of slaughter and processing practices, it doesn't "taste like chicken".

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), September 08, 2001.

Paul, take the advise of raising cornish crosses. Start them out on purina's start and grow like mentioned and then switch over to their meat builder as already mentioned. At about 6 weeks of age butcher your biggest ones for cornish hens and save the rest for fryers. When your fryers are just about big enough to butcher switch their feed over to chopped corn for about a week. This will give you that old time flavor that so many people miss in the old fashioned fryed chicken.

-- r.h. in okla. (rhays@sstelco.com), September 08, 2001.

btw, with the current ruckus over the shipping of chicks, you might want to consider that you would be better off raising something you can - well, raise yourself. Cornish crosses don't fit the bill.

The world is changing. PETA has more clout than small farmers or homesteaders. Even if they manage to squeak through the current hullabaloo, how long will it be before the Know-Nothings (PETA) strike again?

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), September 08, 2001.

feeding corn will give you the old time flavor - no, it most definitely will not. You only get that flavor from eating a bird that has been actively foraging, and has actual muscle for the meat, and is fully mature. Butcher weight for most meat birds is around 24 weeks, not six or seven months. Yes, this is 3 times as long as the Cornish Crosses.

Of course this entire discussion is moot if you like the way grocery store chicken tastes, or if you expect to sell to the public.

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), September 08, 2001.

If you want big, go with the cornish rock crosses. But they have to be butchered on the young side next to other chickens. Remember that feed effieciency goes down on anything as soon as they get mature, so if you let these go you have very large birds that are eating a whole lot and not growing any larger. Still, you can get a darn nice sized roaster out of them! As for taste, I think that is pretty much dependent on what you feed them, and how old they are. Nothing tastes better for chicken and dumplings than an old hen who is done laying. And, these birds have to be fed correctly or they'll get problems, as has been pointed out. I haven't raised any in awhile, but I don't remember it as being a problem to cull some of them if they had leg problems, though. Just an earlier dinner. There's nothing wrong with the regular meat breeds, though, and if you want to maintain a pure flock of one of them and hatch your own, that might be the way to go. Just depends on what you like, I think.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (jlance@nospammail.com), September 08, 2001.

I did meat birds this year. I think they are called Meat Kings and probably one of those crosses that Sojourner doesn't like. They were great actually as far as we were concerned and I let them free range and fed mostly organic grower and scratch so they do taste better than the grocery store. Sometimes when money was tight I cheated and bought regular grower and scratch. :o) In the future however, I would prefer to raise a flock of good dual purpose birds so that I can raise my own without depending on hatcheries or feed store chick ordering times. From what I have heard Chanteclers have nice breast development and I am looking into them though they are harder to come by than most breeds.

-- Alison in N.S. (aproteau@istar.ca), September 08, 2001.

Like many others here, I like and have raised Cornish X's two years now and have never experienced any feeding, leg or heart problems. I wanted to try another variety of meat bird to see if I could "raise" my own flock without being so dependent on the hatchery so I inquired at the feed store. I was told that the next best meat bird were the Barred Rocks so I got 25 of 'em and think they are great. Of course, nothing can compare with the size of Cornish X's but, in second place, I put the Barred Rocks. Mmmmm, mmmmmm, good!

-- Lisa (tepeeclan@nidlink.com), September 08, 2001.

cornish x's it will be, as far as peta go's.......if we wern't ment to eat animals then why are they made from meat??? i had thought about keeping some free rangers but i dont want the free loaders getting into the worm beds...been there done that. i think i will start off with 25 and use the tractor method. thank you all.

-- paul a coleman (wormfarmerone@yahoo.com), September 08, 2001.

Sojourner: I am interested in trying another kind of chicken for butchering instead of the Cornish Cross. What kind of chicken have you tried? We are a long way from a hatchery and I would at least like to have some experience with another kind if I can't get Cornish Cross and I am also curious of the flavor difference. We have Barred Rock for layers but only use the old hens for stewers. I have recently got some banties and hope to use them to raise my layers for next year, but I have never thought of raising my Barred Rock for fryers. They don't seem very big for fryers. Is there a better breed to use for fryers? Marie

-- Marie (Mamafila@AOL.com), September 08, 2001.

I would go with the Buff Orpingtons. I have some HUGE hens :o) that are beautiful and lay good, will raise your next years crop of chicks good, and have lots of meat! They do take longer than the broilers, but check out the yahoo groups poultry sites about all the problems with getting chicks. Some people can still get them, and some can not. If you have birds that can breed, you will always have birds. Broilers get so big they do not breed very well. They artificially inseminate the broilers at most production places. If you watch their protien intake maybe they will not get so huge so fast, but then you might as well get a dual purpose bird. Black Australorp lay better and are still a meat bird, but not as big as the Buff Orps. ~Brenda~ :o)

-- Brenda (brenclark@alltel.net), September 08, 2001.

Paul, As you have now know the Cornish/Rock cross is the chick for a lot of meat in a short time. I have raised them many a year and they are only good for eating. I am not sure you save money raising them as they cost and eat constantly until they go in the freezer. I have a bunch of chickens now, Black Australorp for eggs and rooster, some RIR hens, some White Rock hens also for eggs but the rooster crosses for meat If I was rasing one breed for meat it would be the White Rock, they get big, they are easy to clean and will lay fairly well. I have banties for setting. I bought a really nice incubator but never hatched out a single egg. My fault, I guess, since after rereading the instuctions I figured out the thermostat never worked correctly. I got some standard Partridge Cochins this year just to have, and now with the big stink about mailing chicks I guess my flock is complete. Check the yellow pages for hatcheries in your area. You can always go back to the old days of picking the chicks up from the hatcheries, it might even be fun as well as educational.

-- Karen in Kansas (kansasgoats@iwon.com), September 09, 2001.

I would have to agree about the Buff Orps. The co-op mistakenly sent up 12 of them and ours are HUGE! They lay well also. We mistakenly got two Black Aracanas also and the hen lays very well so we are going to try and incubate some of her eggs. We were disappointed at first with these "mistakes" and were going to off the whole lot but then I read somewhere that the Buff Orps and Black Aracanas are pretty hard to find these days and are considered "uncommon/rare" so we will be keeping them after all! As for the Barred Rocks not being good for fryers, ours are also HUGE and only 4 months old!

-- Lisa (tepeeclan@nidlink.com), September 09, 2001.

I like the Buff Orps, but some friends tried something called Jersey Giants, which apparently got pretty big pretty fast (for something that's not Chickenstein). I don't think they're any good as layers though.

I can't say what sort of fryers they make, because I don't do fried chicken. Only soups, stews, curries, other slow cooked types of cooking. Not a fried chicken afficiando here. Probably some other folks can give you better advice re that.

-- Sojourner (notime4@summer.spam), September 09, 2001.

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