posted on Dec, 23 2012 @ 10:23 AM
Originally posted by grownshow
Heritage breeds (non gmo) are divided into 3 broad categories based on purpose. Dual purpose, egg production, and ornamental. If you want healthy
chickens that can reproduce and are big enough to eat, you need to pick out a dual purpose variety.
Personally, I raise three different breeds. Buff Orphingtons, which are a golden color and are a dual purpose breed. The roosters (even in a box of
pullets you are going to end up with 25% roosters) are big enough to harvest at the 4 month mark. They are big enough to eat when they are done with
their laying time but way smaller than store bought chickens so if you'd normally roast one for your family just roast two. As for temperament the
ladies are docile and curious and will even land on my shoulders occasionally. The roosters are not aggressive towards people in my experience but
like people they all have different personalities.
Rhode Island Reds are my favorite layers as they seem to be the most prolific of the egg layers and lay an egg without fail every day after they are 6
months old. However, they are indeed small framed and after they have outlived their egg laying years are pretty much only good for pot-type cooking
dishes where the whole carcass is rendered and pulled - say for soup, noodles or even chicken salad type meals. Cooking one for a pot of soup or
noodles in a large crock is about perfect for a non-meat centric soup.
We added in Barred Rocks because the wife thinks they are pretty - not the most practical of reasons but then again the wife is not known for her
practicality. They are considered a dual purpose breed and the roosters are big enough to harvest around 4-5 months depending. They are comparable
to the Buff Orphington in my description above.
As for an order of the Cornish Cross – it is not necessarily a bad thing if you just want to raise 24 birds for the freezer. We have done it in the
past. The breed is not the problem it is the hormones in the feed and that factory conditions that make their meat value questionable. Understand
that you do not want to allow them to free range as they will develop leg and feet problems early if you do. Give them just enough space to move
about in the pen or safe area. They are admittedly the most stupid of birds but you can’t beat them for a quick way to fill the freezer. 24 birds
will cost you about 2-3 dollars each (feed them the 22% protein meat breed feed rather than the 16% all purpose feed) to raise to kill weight in 6-8
weeks. You get the peace of mind knowing they were not stacked on top of each other sitting in their own # and feed a decent diet free of hormones.
Make sure you don’t put off the harvest past 8 weeks because they will start to flounder about because they will be top heavy.