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Old 03/20/10, 03:42 PM
 
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Laying hens vs meat hens?

OK, so it seems that hens that produce edible eggs and hens that produce edible meat are two different creatures. How do I tell a meat hen from a laying hen? Do I have to keep them in separate pens? How many hens to one rooster to breed meat hens? I ideally want a self-propagating chicken colony. I really don't want to have to buy chicks every year.

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Old 03/20/10, 03:51 PM
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really its going to be the frame of the chicken that determines if its suitable for meat.

but they are all edible just some give better results.

my girls are all heavey framed , large breasts and meaty looking legs. they also have proven to be excellent layers.

my game plan though is to cross breed for my meat birds as well as keep the pure lines going. I think I will have better results that way even if its just marginal. right now anyeggs I hatch out will most likely be for meat as a have a mixed roo at the moment
waiting for a little better weather so I dont have to brood in the house and I will need to put something together to keep them in afte rthey move out of the brooder.

for best fertility I belive the rule of thumb is 1 roo to 10 hens.

in general I would keep them seperate from the layers just to ease confusion when harvest comes. will also make it easy to figure feed cost per operation.

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Old 03/20/10, 08:54 PM
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Most white egg layers will be smaller birds. They can be eaten but won't have much meat. Many brown egg layers are dual purpose and tend to be heavier. Hatcheries will sometimes call them "heavies". They try to balance egg laying ability with meat qualities, but usually are more of a layer than a meat bird. Some breeds are better meat birds, such as true cornish, marans, and turkens. Some are only for meat and are terminal crosses. These are usually cornishxrock broilers. Then there are the fancies that aren't real great layers or great meat birds, but are fun to have around.

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Old 03/20/10, 09:07 PM
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You can't miss a meat bird!
They look, act and walk nothing like a chicken chicken.
I recv'd a flock of red broilers that never got butchered.
We call them the thunder thighs.
Poor things.. they are so huge and cumbersome. They were tractor kept when we got them, let them free range until they got back in shape and then put them in a pen.. realised today that they need to go back outside. They are getting in bad shape again.
But, they lay!
And we are putting various roos in with them to hatch out their chicks to see what we get.
Some of those hens are starting to keel over.. little poultry heart attacks..
But I think that interbreeding them will be ok...
I'll let you know.

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Old 03/20/10, 10:37 PM
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loquisimo View Post
OK, so it seems that hens that produce edible eggs and hens that produce edible meat are two different creatures. How do I tell a meat hen from a laying hen?
As others have said, you can eat any chicken, and get eggs from almost any chicken. Its just a matter of what you want the most of. Leghorn type chickens have been bred for high egg production. Not a lot of body development, so not a lot of meat. They are great for egg production however. (the standard white egg layers) If the chicken looks scrawy, but lays a lot of eggs, its an egglayer. If its bulkier, but still lays a decent amount of eggs, its a dual purpous chicken. If the chicken grow very quickly to a massive size, and then dies if you wait too long, its a meat bird. (cornish cross/franken chicken...)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loquisimo View Post
Do I have to keep them in separate pens?
Leghorn type chickens tend to be skittish, but can co-exist with the rest of the flock. We had buckeyes, speckled sussex, marans, cochins all in the same area as the jahren (a Norwegian version of the leghorn) with no problems.

If you want fertile eggs of one type, they need to be seperate. To just get eating eggs, everyone can be together.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Loquisimo View Post
How many hens to one rooster to breed meat hens? I ideally want a self-propagating chicken colony. I really don't want to have to buy chicks every year.
6-12 hens per rooster as a max. By "meat hens" you mean dual purpose birds, don't you? The cornish cross birds are a hybrid, and are not self perpetuating. While the dual purpose birds are a bit slower growing, and take a bit more feed per pound of meat, you can keep as many as you want. If you pasture the birds and let them freerange, you can offset the increased feed cost, and come out all right in the end.

Michael
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