Meat Chickens- Most Popular Breeds
Raising meat chickens is the best way to ensure you know what you are eating. There are no hidden chemicals, hormones or anything else going into your meat.
The most popular meat chickens are as follows:
A basic broiler chicken is white with yellow skin and grows to processing weight in about 5-6 weeks. Typical processing dressed weight for a broiler is around 4lbs. Broilers should be kept in a clean, well ventilated area at no more than 65 degrees if possible. If temperatures are hotter, then be sure they have water constantly, shade and air.
Cornish X (or cross)
A Cornish X is a fast growing meat bird, probably the most common you will see when looking to purchase meat chicks. Process time for a 4 pound broiler is normally 7 to 8 weeks, so they grow fast, but slightly slower than the above mentioned broiler. The cornish x produces amazing, large, juicy breasts with meaty legs and thighs. TIP* – do not provide a roost for your meat birds. They tend to lay too heavily on it and this can cause bruising on the breast meat.
The Red Ranger has a fast growth rate and can reach about 6 pounds in around 10 weeks. The red ranger is a bit more hardy than the cornish in that they can tolerate the growth rate, heat and exercise better. The breast meat is a great size in proportion to the leg and thigh meat. Skin is thin and crisps up nicely.
Dual Purpose Heritage Breeds
White and Barred Rocks along with Jersey Giants, Orpingtons, Brahmas and Wyandottes are all great meat birds if you like a heritage breed. A heritage breed tends to taste more like a dark, rich wild game meat. The heritage breeds grow a lot slower and get more exercise than a broiler which can make the meat tough. These breeds are usually referred to as “stew pot” birds. Extra roosters and hens that no longer lay make their way here and can provide a nice meal.
If you are looking for some delicious frying or roasting chicken, I suggest using Cornish X. We have raised them for years and they never let us down. They are always tender, juicy and can be used for everything and anything.
As I mentioned briefly above, heritage breeds that have been used for eggs and slowly grown up with a regular layer flock or free ranging can be tough so the stew pot is best. We also use our crock pot A LOT for our dual purpose breeds. It is a great way to make use of extra roosters.