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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.


Tender and Tasty Birds

By Robert Plamondon 


Tags: chickens, meat chickens, meat breeds, American Poultry Association,

Ah, meat birds! Alas, a lot of what I was told about meat chickens turned out to be wrong. Maybe the same thing has happened to you. I've found that the main points to keep in mind are:

The breed descriptions in the poultry catalogs are derived from the American Poultry Association's Standard of Perfection,which has always contained a lot of nonsense where practical issues are concerned. Milo Hastings pointed out 100 years ago that the entire class of "meat breeds" was useless for meat production, and this is even truer today. Last time I checked, no one had bothered to update the breed descriptions. Watch out for that venerable nonsense!

Hybrid broilers have little personality and are hard to raise until you get the moves down. In particular, learn to be a brooder-house wizard. Problems during the brooding period light a long fuse that lead to explosions of (apparently unrelated) ill health weeks later. (These problems will mostly become "things that happen to other people" when you follow the instructions in my book, Success With Baby Chicks

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Some recipes call for tougher chickens, but for these, hens and the occasional egg-type cockerel that gets mixed in with your order of pullet chicks, may supply your needs.

In general, the American consumer prefers tenderness over flavor, and always has. I find that I am not immune to this myself. I'm happy to settle for tenderness and flavor — easily obtained from grass-fed broilers butchered while still young. But I don't have a lot of use for tough, flavorful meat. This is probably also true of you!