Best Meat Chickens to Raise at Home
Best Meat Chickens to Raise at Home
Nothing tastes as tender and as delicious as the best meat chickens raised at home. Not only are they delectable, they are often preferred by many of those trying to lose weight because chicken is very healthy if not fried and when the skin is removed. If you’re a regular patron of fried chicken, buffalo wings or curried chicken, wouldn’t it be a great to raise the best chickens for meat right in your very own backyard? You’d have the advantage of having fresh meat whenever you want and the comfort of knowing what it is exactly your dinner is made of.
But before going into the chicken breeds and raising meat chickens, you need to review the information of the chicken breeds you are considering. With accurate information about the breed, you know what to expect and how to care for each breed.
There are so many chicken breeds that are good meat chickens. Are you aware that the best meat chickens are actually not standard breeds but combinations of different breeds? Yes, these chickens are hybrid varieties that are carefully developed to produce a desired strain that is suited for the producer’s needs.
The best meat chickens are bred for quick weight gain, unlike laying hens where egg productivity or the number of eggs per chicken is the main consideration. Feed to weight conversion is important consideration in raising meat chickens. Typically, a chicken should reach its market weight in 8 weeks or even less. There are many varieties of chicken that are known for this and we cover the top 5.
Top 5 best meat chickens
Cornish and Cornish Cross Chicken Breeds
This chicken breed, also known as the Indian Game chicken breed, originated from the County of Cornwall, England. This chicken breed is the most sought after breed in the meat chicken industry. They are muscular, heavy and are often used to cross with other breeds to enhance meat production. A Cornish rooster can weigh up to 8 pounds, while a hen can weigh 6 pounds.
Did you know that the Cornish chicken breed is often crossed to other breeds to improve meat quality? One of the most popular Cornish cross is to the White Plymouth Rocks where offspring reach 4-5 pounds in 6 weeks and 6-10 pounds in 8-12 weeks.
Langshan Chicken Breed
The Langshan chicken breed is a tall chicken with long legs and tail. The come in either black or white feathering. These chickens originated from China and are very active and energetic. A full grown adult can reach up to 9 pounds and are generally bred as meat chickens. Langshans are hardy chickens that can readily adapt to different climates.
The downside to having a Langshan for your meat chicken is that you might not want to take them to the frying pan. You see, they also make good pet chickens because of their friendly dispositions.
Dorking Chicken Breed
The Dorking chicken breed is famous for their very fine meat quality. Coming in three varieties, Dorking roosters can weight up to 14 pounds and hens weigh 10 pounds when full grown. They are believed to have originated in Italy and were brought to England by the Romans.
Dorking chickens have a rectangular body and short legs while their relatively large combs make them less resistant to cold climates. If you live in a cold climate, make sure that you provide these with appropriate housing, otherwise various chicken ailments and disease could set in.
Orpington Chicken Breed
The Orpington chicken breed comes from the English class of chickens. The Orpington chickens are bred as dual purpose chickens and are very attractive fowl that are commonly used as show birds. Orpingtons weigh about 7-10 pounds and come in black, white, buff and blue feathering.
The Orpington chicken breed is a cross of the Minorcas, Langshans and Plymouth Rocks. This strain is known as a meat chicken as well as a good laying hen with a capacity to produce a considerable number of eggs per chicken. Despite their very large size, Orpingtons are tame and docile. Most of the hens tend to go broody more often than other large breeds.
Rhode Island Red Chicken Breed
The Rhode Island Red chicken breed are large chickens. Roosters usually weigh close to 8.5 pounds while hens clock in about 6.5 pounds. The cockerels weigh about 7.5 pounds and pullets at about 5.5 pounds. Because these chickens are tough and are able to endure almost all types of weather, they make very good meat chickens for the novice backyard breeder. Their Malay chicken breed origin also makes them quite resistant to chicken ailments. If you want to save on chicken feed costs, the Rhode Island Red chickens are ideal because they have excellent foraging capabilities and can generally feed themselves even when you leave them in your yard.
Developed in Rhode Island around the 1900s, this breed has become quite popular as meat chickens but is also considered one of the best laying hens. Easy to take care of, these chickens also have docile temperaments.
Raising Meat Chickens
Just like laying hens for eggs, you should also provide the best housing for your meat chickens. Chicken coop space should measure at least one square foot and run space should be in the vicinity of one square yard per chicken. For obvious reasons, you need to give them unlimited supply of food and water.
Chicken feeds usually come in chick crumbs, pellets, or broiler starters and growers for higher weights, hence bigger meat chickens. If you want your meat chicken to be ready for the table by the time they are 6 to 8 weeks old, start them with chick crumbs until they are about 3 weeks of age. You can then switch to growers pellets until they are ready to be harvested and cooked. Incidentally, if you want your meat chickens to taste good, you can give them a corn diet about 3 to 4 days before you are going to butcher them.
To make sure that you decrease the mortality rate as soon as your meat chickens are hatched, keep them under heat and protected from draft until they are about 4 weeks old. This is true if you are using incubators to hatch them. You don’t have to worry as much about your chicks when you have them hen hatched.