Homesteading, Organic Gardening, How to Farm, Preparedness, Self-Reliance
The best layers with the meatiest, heaviest frame is~ hands-down~White Rocks. They are a large, white, single-comb bird that lays medium to large brown eggs, lays consistently all year and for several years if managed properly. Mine are in their 5 year of laying and still lay every day or every other day in peak season.
More important, they are thrifty on feed, great foragers for those who free range, amazingly hardy in all weathers, and are the heaviest standard breed I've ever owned...and I've owned many kinds. One or two of mine go broody occasionally~but not too often~and make great mothers!
One of my WRs fostered 20 CX meat chicks for me last spring and all survived to processing, were healthy and foraging with the laying flock right up 'til the end.
Second to the WRs are New Hampshires...very close second for heavy build and all the other good traits as well.
I have New Hampshire Reds and I love them. I have 12 hens and I get 8-12 per day. They seem pretty quiet except one ole' girl who is a talker. They are a nice size for butchering, but we have not butchered any yet.
Excellent birds! Never a moment's trouble from any of mine and they make the yearly culling cut each year...still laying well after 5 years.
I also like Black Austrolorps, though they aren't quite as heavy as the other two, they are consistently good layers, still pretty meaty, excellent personalities and hardiness. I have some still laying well at 6 years old.
J Green: how agressive are your White Rocks? How well would they do with kids? I understand that there is a basic issue of not chasing, tormenting, etc... but I'm just talking about general demeaner.
They certainly aren't aggressive but they aren't real lovey either...if you are looking for a moochy, lovey dual-purpose breed that still lays well and has a meaty frame, I recommend the Black Aussies. Each and every time I've had them, they all have been real sweethearts! Want to hang around you and be your friend, easy to catch, easy to handle.
If I could only pick one breed of chicken to keep and never could have another, the Black Austrolorp would be the breed I'd choose. They are beautiful, hardy, have longevity of lay, lay consistently and even all winter, healthy as horses and thrifty on feed. Just an all around wonderful breed to have.
I had been looking at the Buff Orpingtons, but I know that we do have skunks and coons around here, but I also have younger children(14 down to 2), so don't need something that will go after them. Do the Black Aussies do well as foragers too? I don't have to have lovey dovey, just need something that is tough enough to deal to some level with predators but not so much that they take out after my children either! And we need good egg production with meat quality/quantity too.
Do they ever go broody?
Yes, I'm a gal that wants it all in one bird!!! :)
The BAs are great foragers and very savvy free rangers if you don't get them used to being picked up from above...in other words they shouldn't grow used to ducking down when a shadow from above descends upon them.
Buff Orpingtons will eat you out of house and home and won't lay as consistently as the other breeds mentioned. Nice chickens and fat...but not the best dual purpose breed, IMO, if one is wanting to save money on feed and shooting for good egg production.
Has anyone ever tried the old fashioned Dark Cornish as meat birds? We are going to try some Freedom Rangers, and maybe some Cornish X's. I have only raised Heritage dual purpose breeds. I hatched my own and ate the young Roosers, and old hens but want to try to raise a few to sell. I have never heard anyone mention the Dark Cornish but the Murray Mc Murray discription sounds good!
I got D. Cornish from MMCM last year and really liked how they filled out. I was impressed with how they filled out when we processed them. Have not yet had one on the table yet to comment on taste and texture. I kept a couple roos around for breeding and one is a bit of a bully but only to the other chickens. The hens are just entering their first laying season so I'm not sure on how they will do yet. I did order more for this year.
Matt- Thanks for the info! Did the Dark Cornish act like chickens? Did they forage? I have never raised Cornish X's but have heard so many negatives! I would like to have an experimental year and try a few different breeds.....sounds like the Dark Cornish should be in the trail!. Let me know when one reaches the table!
Dark Cornish are vastly different animals than CX, you will find. Dark Cornish are much like any other chicken with good mobility and foraging instincts, just very heavy builds and lay well but not as good as breeds like RIR, Leghorns, etc.
CX, on the other hand, are bred for one purpose and that is for meat production. The negatives come about when people attempt to raise them like the commercial poultry places do which creates health problems in these birds. Different husbandry methods produces a healthy bird that puts on meat faster than other breeds but still have a potential for foraging and good health~just not life longevity.
J Green- sounds like you have experience with meat birds. If you were going to raise for meat production would you raise Cornish X, Freedom Rangers, or something else? I have hatched and raised about everything including turkeys and peacocks so I feel confident with my husbandry skills but I have heard so much hoopla about the Cornish Crosses....they scare me!