Dual-purpose Chickens – 7 – What’s next?

rainbowIn fall of 2014 I decided I wanted to raise some dual-purpose chickens.  The main focus was on incubating my own birds to raise as “panfrys”, traditional meat birds frequently used in pan frying.  So where do I go from here?

 

So the questions I still have are what breed(s) do I want to continue working with and what size flock do I want.

 

 

For the breed, I’m not done trying different breeds.  I’m still looking for meet and eggs.  I’ve read that modern breeders are mostly focused on ‘show bird’  traits of the bird’s breed, and not on the functionality of the bird, such as egg production and size.  So, this year, I’m going to try buying my dual purpose birds from the hatchery I use for the meet birds.  The breed is called Rainbow and no two birds look alike.

 

As for the size of the flock, I’m still undecided for the long run.  A lot depends on where I want to go with these birds.  I think this year, I’ll stick to my a flock of 9-10 plus a rooster.  That way I won’t need to build a bigger coop.

 

The flock size brings us to the main question we get asked. “are you going to sell eggs”.  The answer is I don’t know.  It’s a possibility; however, this year it’s definitely going to be along the lines of a “when available” adjunct to us selling our chickens.  If we build a bigger coop, incorporate some egg only breed(s), and figure out some portable lighting for the coop, I’ll look more seriously at selling eggs in the future.

-Jason

Dual-purpose Chickens – 6 – In Summary

In fall of 2014 I decided I wanted to raise some dual-purpose chickens.  The main focus was on incubating my own birds to raise as “panfrys”, traditional meat birds frequently used in pan frying.  So how did 2015 go?

 

Overall I got what I expected.  Layers producing at around 60% egg to chick ratio and broilers weighed 3lbs dressed; both good foragers.  The main learning point of this experiment was the evaluation of breeds.

 

My Delaware chickens caused me much distress.  It seemed they all ate eggs.  Because of this, it was hard to judge egg production.  I’m  going to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it was equal, even though my gut tells me it was less.   And the final straw was a psychotic rooster.

 

I am pleased with the Buff Orpington hens.   To date, I’ve not found them to be egg eaters and they have a steady egg production at about 60%.  The one drawback is that I’ve still not been completely successful in breaking my broody hen.  That would be a bonus if I didn’t have an incubator, but since I do, it’s just a nuisance.

 

Overall, I see why Buff Orpington is a more popular homestead breed.  I’ve seen several people praise the Delaware breed, which is why I tried them, but my experience wasn’t favorable.  Of the two, I choose Buffs.

-Jason

Dual-purpose Chickens – 5 – Where’s the ‘beef’?

In fall of 2014 I decided I wanted to raise some dual-purpose chickens.  The main focus was on incubating my own birds to raise as “panfrys”, traditional meat birds frequently used in pan frying.  So how did the “panfrys” do?

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They were good foragers, which IMHO adds to the taste.  I don’t have hard numbers on how much they foraged vs feed,  but they were very light on the feed compared to normal meat birds.

 

The birds were an average of 2lb dressed weight at 13 weeks and 3lb average dressed weight at 16.  That compares to the size of 1950s US Broiler Performance.  Next year I’ll try and get hard numbers on the feed ratio.

 

One limitation is that I averaged 20 chicks per incubation cycle.  Since I don’t do a lot of processing myself and the processing place is 70 miles away, it’s better to have larger quantities.  It’s feasible to raise two cycles together; however, to get a minimum of 3lb dressed weight, the older cycle will be 19 weeks old.  Roosters fights may be a problem at that age.

 

I plan on continuing research into the dual breeds for meat.  Three pounds is an ok size, especially for a tasty bird.  Hatching our own birds cuts out some costs and I’ll work harder next year to get good numbers on the feed ratios to determine what the actual costs per pound are.

-Jason