Every year, an increasing number of people become aware of the repercussions of their food choices.
People are increasingly growing their own food as a result of the hormones added to market meats. Growing your own food usually begins with fruits and vegetables; however, for protein, chicken is the most common meat that individuals raise in their backyards. Broilers are chickens that have been kept only for the purpose of producing meat. Broilers develop quicker than egg-laying and dual-purpose hens, making them excellent meat chickens.
Broiler chickens can grow to be around 4-5 pounds in just five weeks, and by the time they are 10 weeks old, they can reach 10 pounds, which is the optimal size for a family of typical size.
For those wishing to establish a self-sustaining lifestyle, growing and breeding broilers in the backyard is the greatest alternative. Below, we have provided a list of chicken breeds that can be used for meat.
Types of Chicken
1. Cornish Grass
When it comes to raising your own chickens for meat, Cornish Cross and related hybrids are quite popular.
They can attain a weight of 12 lbs. in as little as 6-8 weeks. They are the most popular choice among commercial meat producers and backyard breeders due to their rapid growth rate.
Cornish Cross chickens also grow faster and have a superior flavor than dual-purpose chickens. It is also preferable over breeds utilized just for meat production. The Cornish Cross has a low degree of activity due to its super-fast growth rate.
These chickens have huge breasts, thighs, and legs, as well as enhanced yellow skin, making them ideal for the dinner table.
2. Jersey Giant
Jersey Giant chicken originated in the United States, and they were created with the goal of replacing the traditional turkey. Despite the fact that this did not happen, it has cemented its place in the poultry world.
Jersey Giants are purebred that weigh between 11 and 13 pounds on average.
These Giants, on the other hand, grow at a slower rate than other Broiler breeds. They require a lot of time and food, which can add up quickly if you don’t grow your own feed. This renders them unsuitable for professional meat production but a hot commodity in backyard chicken coops.
The female Giants are peaceful and gentle; however, the male Giants are slightly aggressive. The Giants from New Jersey also lay large brown eggs. This implies that while you’re waiting for them to reach their peak, you can employ them as an egg hen. This breed comes in three colors: black, white, and blue.
Bresse chickens are white with a huge size. They are a very pricey and desirable breed with brilliant blue feet. Do not be fooled by the low cost of these birds. The only expense you will have once you have your breeding pairs is the food you will need to raise your hens.
The Bresse birds are known for having the best meat flavor and tenderness in the world. These hens come in a variety of colors, including white, black, grey, and blue.
Despite the fact that the American Poultry Association does not recognize them, they are nonetheless quite popular because to their excellent meat quality. Their sole disadvantage in the United States is that they are more popular in France than in the United States.
The Orpington is another large chicken breed, with females weighing an average of 7-8 pounds.
They are good layers, but their flesh is most commonly utilized as broilers due to their incredible flavor and tenderness. The back of these birds is short and curved, with a U-shaped underline and a large body.
Orpingtons are excellent layers despite their small size and moderate growth rate. Each year, they can lay up to 200 eggs.
Many poultry keepers neglect the Australorp, despite the fact that it has so many advantages! It is a sturdy bird that enjoys free-ranging, is friendly and nice with youngsters (even if a little heavy to hoist up, but a bantam variety is available), and is a good egg-layer as well as a respectable size white-skinned meat bird.
Australorps reach point of lay at around 20 to 22 weeks of age due to their rapid growth. They, like the Orpington, do not fly very high, making fencing easier.
Australorps got their name from the fact that they were once known as ‘Australian Orpingtons,’ which were previously known as ‘Utility Type Orpingtons.’ They were essentially early Black Orpingtons from Orpington, Kent, that were brought to Australia in the late 1880s and improved for utility. In the early 1920s, the original Orpingtons were changed in Britain, and the resulting ‘Australian Orpingtons’ were imported back into the UK as Australorps.
White eggs commanded higher market prices in 1934 because they were thought to have a richer flavor. Small farms generated the majority of America’s eggs at the time. Dual-purpose chickens are preferred by small farmers because they give both meat and eggs.
Rutgers Breeding Farms decided to create a dual-purpose breed that would lay white eggs because dual-purpose breeds used to give brown eggs, and the breeds that laid white eggs were light-weight and not fully filled. As a result, the Holland was born.
Holland hens are excellent backyard chickens. They are peaceful and good foragers, and the hens will raise their own young. They make excellent table birds and lay a huge number of eggs.
George Ellis created the Delaware in Delaware in 1940. Originally, they were known as “Indian Rivers.” Barred Plymouth Rock roosters and New Hampshire hens were crossed to create the breed.
Delawares are an excellent dual-purpose birds, despite their origins as meat birds. They have a calm and pleasant demeanor and lay giant brown eggs at a rate of about four per week under optimal conditions. Let’s not forget about their stunning plumage, either!
8. Naked Neck
The Naked Neck is a chicken breed that is born without feathers on its neck and vent. The breed is also known as the Turken and Transylvanian Naked Neck. The term “Turken” came from the incorrect assumption that the bird was a cross between a chicken and a domestic turkey.
They’re an excellent dual-purpose utility chicken. They have half as many feathers as regular chickens, making them easier to pluck if grown for meat. They also lay a decent amount of eggs. They are excellent foragers and are resistant to the majority of diseases, not to mention that they are a lot of fun to look at!
The Romans invaded Britain in 43 AD, and this breed has a long history dating back to that time. They gained a reputation as Britain’s best poultry and arrived in America in 1912. Because they are a dual-purpose breed, they are prone to gaining weight quickly, so don’t overfeed them! You’ll notice a drop in egg output if they gain too much weight.
Sussex hens are an ideal breed for a small farm or homestead, as they are active and all-around good meat and egg producers. Hens lay about 250 light brown eggs every year on average, and they come in three distinct color varieties: speckled, red, and light.
The Gournay chicken comes from France’s upper Normandy region. It has ancient ancestry, maybe dating back to the Viking era.
These birds have a round body and a tiny head and weigh 4–7 pounds. Their black and white feathers are uniformly speckled. They have a well-developed breast with delicate and tasty meat, as well as orange eyes and a robust beak.
Hens are charming, but they can become broody. Every week, they lay 3 extra-large white eggs. The Gournay is a rare yet great choice for backyard chicken rearing since it is easy to tame and adapts well to confinement.
During World Wars I and II, the Gournay, like many other classic European breeds, suffered greatly. They were on the verge of extinction, but thanks to the efforts of local enthusiasts in the early 2000s, they now number over 15,000 throughout France.
During the Middle Ages, the Barbezieux was created in France. These birds are stunning both in the coop and on the dinner table!
Adult roosters can weigh up to 12 pounds and stand up to 2 feet tall. They are thought to be Europe’s tallest chicken. Their feathers are iridescent and beetle black, and they have a large comb and wattles. Their skin is white, and their legs are blue.
If you wish to keep certain hens in your flock as layers, they lay a lot of white eggs. Their beef is of the highest quality. Some say it’s even better than the well-known Bresse! Barbezieux meat is solid and has a particular flavor with wild animal characteristics. The golden toasted skin has a mild wheat fragrance.
12. Basque Chicken
The Basque region of France and Spain has a long and illustrious history and culture that has survived thousands of years in the tough and mountainous environment. The Basques consider themselves to be self-sufficient and apart from the countries in which they live. Native chickens, like the people of the area, flourish in situations that their less hardy cousins would struggle with.
These birds have yellow legs, feet, and skin. Their earlobes are thin and pointed, and they feature a single bright red comb. Black, red, red-brown, golden, and black-tailed white are five color variants (black-tailed white).
In the United States and Canada, this breed has recently gained popularity among homesteaders. Given their robust ancestry and strong foraging abilities, they are perfect for free ranging.
Basque chickens are medium-sized, with roosters reaching 9 pounds and providing plenty of meat for the table. Each year, hens lay 200–220 big brown eggs. Their best characteristic, on the other hand, is their charismatic personality. They are quite friendly and enjoy being around people, and they don’t mind being picked up.
13. Gallina di Saluzzo
The Gallina di Saluzzo, or “white hen of Saluzzo,” is an Italian breed from Piedmont. It’s a rustic breed that was originally common throughout the area. Small family farms are abundant in the area, and the animals grown there were originally intended for consumption by the family. With the rise of intensive and commercial agriculture, this breed, like with other pasture-raised breeds in the area, nearly vanished. Because of the breed’s historical relevance to the region, efforts to resuscitate it began in 1999.
The Gallina di Saluzzo is a breed with two functions. Despite the fact that hens only lay 180 white eggs per year, this breed sparkles on the dinner table. Their meat is of extraordinary quality thanks to considerable breeding and very particular feeding procedures.
They have pure white feathers with a red comb and wattles, a yellow beak, and yellow feet, and they have a classic appearance. They are a medium to small-sized birds, weighing between 4 and 6 pounds.
Etienne Tamburini created the Lyonnaise breed in Lyon, France, in the 1950s. It took nearly two decades for them to be recognized as unique and legitimate breed.
Standard and bantam varieties are available, and both can be flat-feathered or frizzled. Beetle black feathers and grey legs distinguish birds. Like a well-coiffed hairdo, they have a crest that sweeps to the back of the head.
Lyonnaise are superb free-range birds, with great feeding and predator avoidance skills. They are also gentle, peaceful, and nice to humans.
They’re medium-sized birds with a reputation for producing high-quality white meat. Hens lay about 3 eggs each week and are good layers of medium-sized white eggs.
In France, Houdan chickens were created. They are descended from the old French and Belgian 5-toed bird. Houdans have a long history of being prized for both their meat and their ability to produce.
Houdans are black with speckled white plumage and have both crests and beards. They have five toes on each foot as well. They are moderately resilient, but in the correct temperatures, they can out-egg Leghorns. This bird has it all: excellent aesthetics and practicality.
Have you ever wondered what happens to a breed when it becomes extinct? In France, the Normande chicken did precisely that. It was extinct in the late 1800s, more than a century ago. The Gournay, this breed’s cousin, was a near relative. It wore the same black and white mottled coloration as the others, but it wore a feather crest on its head.
Is it really gone for good? In certain ways, yes. The exact Normande hasn’t reappeared, but poultry aficionados have recreated it. The Dampierre is a new breed that resembles the ancient breed. Gournay and Crevecoeur genetics were used to make it in 1996 in France. Since then, the breed has been refined and standardized with great care to make it look as near to the Normande as possible.
Dampierres have excellent white meat and delicate bones, making them ideal for both cooking and eating. Hens are capable of laying a high number of big white eggs and are willing to brood.
This breed is only now making an appearance in the United States. They’re difficult to come by and prohibitively pricey. If you are successful in obtaining these birds, you must be committed to the advancement of the breed by only producing birds that meet the breed standard.