Tastiest fryer/roaster breed (pastured)?

blueberrier1February 14, 2007

Could not find any taste ratings on the web.

Experimenting this year. Usually raise RIR and Cornish Rock breeds for tasty breeds to freeze. This year, due to family obligations, have to be away too long, so can only afford time to raise the edibles in 4 months. So far, our favorite tasting fryer or roaster is the RIR. Meyer Hatchery in OH is close to us, and will sell us as few as one bird of a breed.

Have thought of Delaware, Buff Orphs, White Plymouth Rock, RIR, and, Black Jersey Giant breeds for a total of 70 birds. Anyone familiar with raising these together?

Though I believe taste is very sujective, how do you compare/rate flavors?

Personalities are also important. I thought I could butcher the largest and/or most aggressive first. Birds will have multiple range sites. Organic feeds.

cella jane ky/6

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patrick_nh(z4/5 NH)

I've never heard of any taste comparison studies being done on chicken breeds, only turkeys. Either way, it's a highly variable thing, based on feed, stress and many other conditions. The taste could vary from year to year, or even from batch to batch, and even in individual birds.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 7:11AM
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balsam(z4/5 NB)

I'd have to agree with patrick. I don't think there is a standard for taste comparison becasue the quality (including taste) of the meat depends on so many variables. We've raised a standard "Meat King" here for the last 3 years - good meat, but not overly intelligent birds nor good grazers after a few weeks. Here's the description:

"White Rock X Cornish crossbreed, known to have a problem with slipped tendon and flip-over. There are several strains of this cross and some are better on their legs than others.The commercial bird was bred to live only seven weeks, so if one is going to raise them beyond that point certain precautions need to be taken."

We've always let the Meat Kings go to about 10 weeks (they start to die off of heart attack after that - too heavy for heart to support movement). They are good sized by then, averaging 6-7 lbs (which works well if you are trying to feed a family of 5). We also tried staggered processing this year, killing the largest birds first and leaving the smaller ones another week to gain more. It seemed to work quite well.

I think trying different breeds would be interesting, too. Wish I could find a reliable, reasonably priced source around here for chicks! We get 2 or 3 commercial breed choices at local feed stores or buy from hobbyists (these tend to be pricey).

Anyone order chicks from a hatchery specializing in heritage breeds?

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:17AM
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claraserena(4)

Sometime last year I read an article in The Atlantic on regular breed (as opposed to the ones bred and raised commercially) chickens. It seems the standard breed chickens do taste different and are in great demand by chefs and exclusive restaurants. We have eaten both. The regular breed ones--males, Barred Rock and Speckled Sussex, one killed at about a year, the other at 5 months-- were much more flavorful than the "meat chickens." The meat would have been tough had we roasted them but the one I stewed and the other was stewed then made into a chicken pie. There IS a difference in taste, in favor of the regular breeds

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 6:30PM
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balsam(z4/5 NB)

That's interesting, claraserena,and all the more reason to try some of the non-hybrid, heritage breeds. I'm going to start looking around for a reasonable source locally. Have you ever ordered from a hatchery and had chicks and/or eggs shipped to you?

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:11AM
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blueberrier1

Claraserena,

Thanks for that info. Read about chicken (and maybe other poultry) flavor being 'richer' if the birds are air-chilled rather than bathed in ice chips after butchering. Has anyone heard about this or have a clue if it can be done on a small scale?

Cooking techniques are so variable-I like to slow (low temp) roast about everything in the meat category. 6-9 month old goose cooked at 225 overnight is soooo delish! Maybe we could start a chicken comparison test...like the beef folks do with angus vs hereford vs mixed breed.

cella jane

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:29AM
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skagit_goat_man_(WA)

The best tasting we ever raised were the dark cornish. But let me warn you they are aggressive. I still have the scars on my arm to prove it. You know how most birds run from you when you go to collect them for slaughter? Well the dark cornish run at you. But they tasted great. When one would get loose we just "caught" it with a shotgun. The buff orpingtons were very good too. The drawback is that the buffs took 16 weeks to eating size as compared to 7-8 weeks with the cornish cross. And that added up to a LOT more in feed costs. They were all raise in tractors on pasture. Tom

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 10:00AM
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claraserena(4)

The heritage breeds we have now we got from McMurray, shipped at one day--Speckled Sussex, Buff Orphington, Columbian Wyandotte, and Auricauna.

We slaughtered most of the males (14) when they were not quite 6 months--they weighed 4-41/2 pounds, dressed.
The article in the Atlantic is "Spring Chickens" by Corby Kummer (April 06)

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 1:40PM
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blueberrier1

Skagit man/Tom,

Heard yesterday that the dark cornish are often rated #1 by chefs...but no one mentioned the aggressiveness. One site I came across suggested a mixed group of males should be separated into the quiet types and the 'king of the hill' guys around 4-5 weeks.

Am planning on the simple hoop houses for the pasture and will have to stake them as the winds are sometimes fierce over the hills. I made a huge net and attached it to a lightweight aluminum pole to capture birds-will be sure to test that the fibers are strong.

Still want to get more than one breed, so I can taste test, even though it is less expensive to stay with one kind. Those 'assorted heavies' tickle my interest as well. Too many choices!
cella jane

    Bookmark   February 16, 2007 at 3:46PM
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skagit_goat_man_(WA)

cella jane, I don't think the advice of separating the roosters into groups of quiets and kings will work. Someone has to be "king" of a group and one of those will develop in the quiets. The dark cornish were't aggrressive with each other, just with us. We ended up switching to the standared cornish cross. Raised on pasture they taste great because they actually move and use their muscles. And they ate 1/2 as much feed and were ready in 1/2 the time as the standards. Our chicken tractors were 8' wide 16' long and moved one length forward every day. 4 extra weeks in the pasture for the standards took a lot more pasture especially since we did 300-600 birds a season. But play around and learn, you'll have fun. Tom

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 9:33AM
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blueberrier1

Tom,

Would you mind providing some details about your tractors-can you move them by hand, what basic design, str run (Cornish cross) or all roosters, and how many in each pen?
What was the average age and weight of the birds when you processed?
I believe Salatin has 70 in a 10x12 pen (not sure of the breed). I was planning on building 8x8 hoop houses so I could place them in the orchard and move them next to the veggie beds so fertilizers are there for the cover crops...but was only planning on 25 ckns in each pen. Have some old time long skis to use under the base boards.
Thanks, cella jane

    Bookmark   February 17, 2007 at 7:26PM
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skagit_goat_man_(WA)

The tractors are 8x16 and 2' high. Side are a livestock panel bolted together at corners. Panels are then covered with poultry netting. Roof (only 8 of 16' is roofed) is corrugated PVC panels, solid white color. The roof'sopen end was covered with a poultry netting flap. The sides were covered 8' with the PVC panel. We use our garden tractor to pull them each day. With the cornish cross, strait run, we ran between 50 and 80 birds. In 7 1/2 t0 8 weeks they averaged 4 3/4# dressed. The tractor is not light weight due to high winds here. Good Luck! Tom

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 7:50AM
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blueberrier1

Thanks Tom for the details. My livestock panels are 4 1/2 ' tall-never saw any at 2'. but will ask about them. Did you cut a regular panel in half lengthwise? Am now thinking about getting 25 str run of the Cornish X and 25 of the dark cornish and will raise the later for 4 months for roasters. cella jane

    Bookmark   February 18, 2007 at 7:57PM
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skagit_goat_man_(WA)

We cut 4' high panels in half which gave us pretty close to a 2' panel. Tom

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 10:21PM
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stoneunhenged

Does anybody on this forum breed their own Cornish-Rock crosses? I'm growing some Asils (gamefowl that look a lot like a Cornish) and some Barred Rocks and thought I would cross them to produce my own meat birds. Thoughts?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 7:34PM
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stoneunhenged

Here's a brief excerpt from the Corby Kummer article in Atlantic Monthly:

Pasture-raised chickens eat grass and peck for bugs rather than standing in miserably cramped pens; they spend the daylight hours outdoors. Their meat tastes so good itÂs hard to believe youÂre eating chicken and not some special game bird. The dark meat is much darker, because the birds have actually exercised; all of the meat has sinew and taste. The fat is a deep gold rather than an anemic yellow. Real chicken could practically be called "the other red meat."

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 8:01PM
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blueberrier1

Thanks for all the ideas, opinions and info for me to incorporate.

In the past, I have always raised long rows of swiss chard, sugar beets (mangles), and winter squash especially for the CKNS. Since this summer's birds will be 4 months old when I process them, I'll omit the last two. I also feed ground organic grains.

Guess I am obsessive about their optimal health and enjoyment of their environment. Still hankering to try those dark cornish for taste. Also, need to get a copy of the Atlantic article by Kummer-thanks for that reference.

Can already taste the 'other red meat' and those delish CKN fat pie crusts and Chinese CKN soup and...

cella jane

    Bookmark   February 27, 2007 at 10:54PM
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skagit_goat_man_(WA)

When we started with meat chickens we were absolutely opposed to raising those grocery store breeds as the cornish cross. But when we finally raised them in tractors on pasture the taste was unbelievable. "The other red meat" is a good descriptor. Tom

    Bookmark   February 28, 2007 at 8:49AM
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blueberrier1

Thanks for all the inspirational and informative comments. Finally got the barn finished-though 5 weeks behind schedule. 51 cornish cross and 27 "other" bonus males...rusty colored, may be RIR or Buff O. are happily in residence.

Only five days old now and current advice is that the two breeds should be separated so the cornish only get commercial feed 12 hours per day. Tomorrow, I'll put up a fence (really an old recycled kids gate), in the brooder, so the bonus cockerels get commercial feed 24 hours per day while the cornish go on their 12 hour per day diet. Hope to get the hoop house outdoors in two weeks.

Next year, I hope to get dark cornish, cuckoo maran, buckeye and several other varieties that I have never raised. Mt. Healthy Hatchery (OHIO) has a great combo of all heavy cockerels that may satisfy my goal. Hope to have enough varieties so that I can have a taste test.

Next step is rounding up the electrical fencing necessary with roaming foxes, coyotes and dogs.

cella jane

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 10:40PM
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gardendawgie(5)

The best chicken I ever ate was a Cobb back in 1972 that I did not feed at all, but he grew up free range. Now the 2009 Cobb must be much different from the 1972 bird. But I think the way it is raised and processed is important.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2009 at 1:02AM
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