If you plan to add low-maintenance chickens for meat to your backyard flock, you have come to the right place.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about the best chicken breeds for meat. Keep reading to learn more.
There are hundreds of chicken breeds in the poultry world. However, not all chicken breeds serve the same purpose.
Some were originally bred for egg-laying purposes, while others were bred as broiler chickens specifically harvested for meat. Dual-purpose chickens can provide you with both meat and eggs.
While any chicken breed can be made into a meat bird, some breeds, such as Leghorns and Easter Eggers, are not particularly suited for meat since they do not have much of it.
Therefore, choosing the right chicken breed for meat can be daunting, especially if you are a beginner.
Things To Consider When Choosing The Best Meat Chicken Breed
As mentioned, not all chicken breeds are excellent for meat. Therefore, you need to consider a few things when looking for the best chicken meat chicken to add to your backyard flock.
Here are things to consider when selecting a low-maintenance chickens for meat.
The ideal chicken breed for meat should have a rapid growth rate. If you want fast food, you will want to consider breeds with a rapid growth rate, like the Cornish Cross.
Other heritage breeds tend to mature at a slower rate.
Meat chicken breeds tend to eat a lot of commercial feed. On the other hand, heritage chicken breeds can grow off solely on pasture and insects.
Therefore, you will spend more on chicken feed than meat chickens. Knowing how much money you will spend on feed to grow your flock is essential.
While heritage chickens have a lot of benefits, they are relatively smaller than the Cornish Cross. This can make a lot of difference if you are looking for a large chicken to feed your family.
The ideal chicken meat should be large enough with plenty of meat.
Did you know that chickens do not have the same taste? If you have ever had store-bought chicken, then you are yet to taste chicken!
Store-bought chicken may not have much flavor, primarily if raised commercially. Both diet and breed affect the flavor of a chicken.
Other essential factors to consider are egg production and reproduction ability. You may want to raise a chicken breed that will provide you with meat and plenty of eggs.
Best Low-maintenance Meat Chicken Breed
Here are the best low-maintenance chicken breeds for meat.
The Cornish Cross is the most popular chicken breed for meat production. The breed is known for its rapid growth and can be harvested as early as eight weeks of age.
The Cornish Cross broiler is an excellent option if you want something to grow quickly and provide you with meat.
These adorable chickens are favored and popular amongst commercial chicken meat producers because they grow and gain weight much faster than most other chicken breeds.
Unfortunately, these chickens are not sustainable because they can not naturally reproduce. Therefore, you will likely need to purchase new Cornish Cross chicks yearly.
Because of their rapid growth rate, they can be prone to several health issues. They can easily die of heart attack and other conditions, especially if you let them grow out too long.
Therefore, you must harvest them as soon as possible once they are mature. A fully grown Cornish Cross chicken weighs between 8 and 12 pounds.
If you choose to raise them in your backyard, it is best to have them in a chicken tractor or a large enclosed pen, as they are slow and can hardly run from predators.
As the name suggests, Jersey Giants are large-sized chickens. They originated in the United States of America. Breeders wanted a chicken breed to replace the turkey.
However, that never happened, and it became famous as a tasty chicken breed. This is one of the best breeds if you are looking for a large-sized and tasty meat chicken.
The Jersey Giant has three varieties: black, blue, and white. These purebred chickens can weigh between 11 and 14 pounds when fully mature.
Jersey Giant roosters are usually bigger than their female counterparts. While they are big enough and suitable for meat production, they tend to mature slower than most other chicken breeds on our list.
Typically, Jersey Giant takes 16 to 22 weeks to grow to the right size for harvesting. Therefore, they may not be the right choice if you want a chicken reed that will mature faster and give you quick meat.
Despite their large sizes, these chickens are calm and friendly. They do not behave aggressively toward kids and other chickens in the flock.
However, as with most other roosters, Jersey Giant roosters can be aggressive, especially if they feel threatened or attacked by predators.
In addition to meat production, these chickens are also suitable for egg production. Therefore, you can use them for egg production until they are ready for slaughter.
Under good care and proper diet, a Jersey Giant hen can lay 3 to 4 eggs per week. This translates to about 200 eggs per year.
Jersey Giants are low considered low-maintenance chickens. They do not require a lot of care and maintenance needs.
They are also hardy chickens that can do well in hot and cold climates. However, these large-sized chickens may require plenty of food.
Fortunately, they are good foragers, so you can allow them to free-range within your backyard.
The Bresse chicken is a medium-sized white bird. However, you can also find gray, black, and blue-colored Bresse chickens.
Generally, a Bresse rooster weighs 7 to 10 pounds, while a female Bresse chicken weighs 5 to 8 pounds. These medium-sized chickens take 16 to 21 weeks before they can be harvested.
These birds are popular and a bit more expensive than most other birds on our list because of their colorful blue feet.
However, they are low-maintenance birds with not so many maintenance needs. They will not need a lot of care. In fact, once you bring Bresse chicks home, you will only have to worry about their food.
Bresse chickens are hardy birds that can do well in hot and cold climates. They are also robust and healthy birds with not so many health conditions.
However, they can be prone to common poultry parasites and chicken health conditions.
They are good free rangers, so you can let them forage and give them table scraps, such as watermelon rinds, strawberries, and lettuce.
The Bresse is known for being one of the best-tasting chicken breeds. The bird’s meat is usually tender. They are also friendly and docile chickens that will do well in backyard flocks.
Last on our list of the best low-maintenance chickens for meat is the “Freedom Rangers.” These birds were initially developed to be pasture-fed chickens for meat production.
They often flourish on a low-protein feed and are good free rangers compared to the Cornish Cross. They can easily roam around large backyards, looking for insects and bugs.
These birds are also considered low-maintenance chickens for meat as they do not have a lot of care needs.
As one of the best chickens for meat, they survive on corn feed and field bugs, so they are perfectly healthy to eat.
Freedom Rangers come in various shades of red but can also have spots and black feathers. They can also come in bronze or gray.
The breed is one of the fastest-maturing birds on our list. They take between 9 to 12 weeks before they reach the slaughter weight.
A rooster weighs 6 pounds, while a hen weighs 5 on average. Therefore, they are not big enough to feed a large family.
With so many chicken breeds in the poultry world, choosing the right chicken for meat can be a daunting task. Not all chicken breeds are suitable for meat.
Some take longer to mature, and others are not big enough to feed a large family. Also, it is important to note that all chickens do not taste the same.
If you are looking for a low-maintenance chickens for meat, you can consider one of the options on our list.