So, What breed of chickens should I raise for meat? As a chicken owner, I cannot overemphasize the importance of raising your own chickens for meat. This is because conventional poultry in most factory farm-settings is loaded with all kinds of additives. Besides, such chickens are often raised in a way that is not humane. Raising your own birds gives you full control of your flock. Let’s look at some of the chicken breeds that you can raise for meat.
There are many chicken breeds you can raise for their meat. The most common ones include Cornish Cross, Jersey Giant, Bresse, Orpington, Freedom Rangers, New Hampshire Red, and many others.
Breeds of chickens for meat are no different from other chickens. They need the same care and maintenance as the rest of the other flocks. Therefore, you should start by asking yourself which type of coop they need, how to fatten them and which breeds are suitable for you. Speaking of breeds, here is a list of chickens you can raise for meat:
The Best Breed of Chickens for Meat
Here comes one of the most popular commercial chicken breeds raised for meat. Originally bred in the US to replace the turkey, Jersey Giant has increasingly become one of the best meat chickens.
- Given that they are purebreds, you can easily breed them in your backyard. Jersey Giants grow slowly but they produce a lot of meat. When mature, each bird weighs an average of 13lbs in a processing time of 16 to 21 weeks.
- Unfortunately, Jersey Giant chickens are not raised in most commercial meat chicken farms. This is due to their slow feed conversion rates compared to other breeds such as Cornish Cross. For commercial poultry owners, raising these birds sounds uneconomical because they mature slowly.
- But on the flip side, Jersey Giant chickens are not prone to many health complications like other breeds. Besides, they are excellent egg layers, meaning that you can keep them as a dual-purpose breed.
Cornish Cross is an outstanding chicken breed for quality meat. When mature, each bird weighs at least 12lbs on average. This is an ideal weight to slaughter them for meat either for commercial purposes or for family consumption.
- Cornish Cross takes a processing time of approximately four to six weeks. This is the time each bird takes to mature after hatching. Apparently, these birds are popular among chicken owners for their delicious meat. Apart from that, they grow rapidly, reaching twelve pounds in a few weeks.
- When it comes to feeding these birds, you need to go deeper into your pockets. This is because they eat more food and for good reasons. A lot of food helps them to keep up with their growth. As a farmer, this is the best part of raising them. Within a few weeks, you will be reaping their benefits.
- However, you need to monitor their growth rate to prevent them from becoming obese. This can impact their wellbeing in one way or the other. If you let them grow continuously, they might break their legs due to being overweight or suffer from heart malfunctions.
- Cornish Cross don’t go broody. Moreover, you cannot breed them in an incubator. Instead, you will have to buy chicks every year to replenish your flock.
Freedom Ranger is one of the coolest birds you can raise for meat in your backyard. This breed matures faster and becomes ready for slaughter at nine weeks.
- Other people refer to it as Red Ranger for a number of reasons. One of these reasons for this name is their yellow fat and skin including their ability to lay large brown eggs. This should tell you that you can raise these chickens as a dual-purpose breed.
- Freedom Rangers are popular among organic farmers who breed them specifically to produce pesticide-free meat. To achieve this goal, poultry farmers let these birds forage on pasture rather than giving them commercial feed.
- When raising them, you can feed them low-protein chicken feeds in addition to letting them forage. These birds can survive off insects, bugs, and grass to produce great tasting chicken meat.
- Unfortunately, these chickens don’t produce large quantities of meat. This is because heir growth pattern is smaller with roosters reach about 6 lbs on average. Regardless, they are easier to keep and will cost you less money to maintain them.
- Orpington chicken breeds are another popular meat birds that you can easily raise in your backyard. These birds are heavy and males can grow to weigh ten pounds when conditions are favorable.
- As a dual-purpose breed, Orpington chickens are excellent layers and ideal birds to raise for meat. Each hen can lay as much as 200 eggs in one year. But they grow at a slower rate, although they produce more meat.
- Despite their large size, Orpingtons are docile chickens that come in several shades. Some are black, white or blue, while others have buff shades.
- Unlike most other chicken breeds for meat, these birds are a heritage breed. That is the reason many chicken owners prefer raising them traditionally.
- When left to forage, Orpingtons still do well. This means you will not bother feeding them on ridiculously high-protein feeds when they can thrive on bugs and insects in the field. At the end of the day, you will save a lot of money on commercial feed.
When mature a single Bresse chicken weighs about 7 lbs on average. They are attractive and suitable for meat production. You can tell them from the rest by looking at their bright blue feet. This feature makes them one of the most expensive birds on the market today.
- You can obtain them by hatching their eggs in order to lower other expenses. Most importantly, these chickens take a processing time of approximately 16 weeks to be ready for slaughter.
- Some chicken keepers and several culinary experts argue that Bresse chicken has the most delicious tasting meat in the world. Its meat is believed to offer superior flavor and texture when it is well prepared.
- Bresse chicken breeds are also easy to maintain. As a matter of fact, they offer a docile personality combined with their peaceful overall demeanor. Most of them come in different shades ranging from white to black or grey.
New Hampshire Red
The New Hampshire Red is a classic US dual-purpose breed that you can easily keep in your backyard. This breed has a reputation for producing delicious meat and large quantities of eggs. To be precise, it is a dual-purpose breed that matures relatively faster. That is why it is normally used as a broiler.
- New Hampshire Red comes in bantam varieties as well as standard sizes. Both types of chickens produce exceptional products when you look after them well.
- Mostly, they go broody although they have a quiet personality. Their males can become somehow aggressive when protecting the entire flock.
- These birds can tolerate challenging weather or climatic conditions. Above all, they are adaptable and productive breeds of chickens that you shouldn’t miss in your backyard.
Buckeye is the best meat chickens for cold weather. They can withstand almost any changes in temperature better than most other chicken breeds. Furthermore, they are resistant to diseases and a great choice of birds if you are living in the northern climate.
- Another reason why you will like Buckeye chickens is their ability to breed. They are known for their consistent breeding patterns among other traits.
- Sometimes they become somewhat aggressive towards other chicken breeds or animals. Nevertheless, they are a great dual-purpose breed of chickens you can rely on for meat and eggs.
- When you raise them as layers, they can produce up to 200 eggs in one year. But when you decide to keep them for their meat, you should expect them to mature at 16 weeks.
- Buckeye chickens have unique physical features. You can identify them from their luxurious mahogany feathers all over their bodies. A mature chicken will weigh at least 9lbs when ready for slaughter.
When should I know if my meat birds are ready to eat? To begin with, you must ensure that you monitor each bird’s weight and ideal time of processing. These two factors will give you an accurate time to start eating your chickens. Different breeds have different weights when mature and this is one of the areas you need to pay your attention. While some chickens are ready to eat in eight weeks, others take longer to mature.
Should I start keeping chickens for meat? The answer is yes. But you should take your time to decide if raising meat birds is the right choice for you.
Raising chickens for meat is a little bit different from raising layers. Even though their basic care guidelines is similar, each group of chickens has its own special needs. This is also true when it comes to choosing the best chicken breeds for meat. But we have made your work easier by highlighting the above-named chicken breeds for you. All you need to do is to choose the one you find appropriate to get started with your project immediately.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!