Meat Chickens

Meat chickens, or broilers, are domestic chickens reared specifically for their meat. The main difference between them and dual-purpose chickens raised for their meat and eggs is the higher quality of meat due to selective breeding.

Due to the fast-paced nature of their production, broilers often have poor health issues. Common problems include heart congestion, skin lesions, and malformation of the skeletal structure. Despite these challenges, the poultry industry rears over 20 million broilers annually, with the US raising about 9.22 billion meat chickens.

Meat Chickens

List of Different Meat Chicken Breeds

Here is a list of chickens reared worldwide for their meat, arranged in the least weeks before they must be butchered.

Chicken BreedAverage Meat Produced per Chicken (in lbs.)Number of Weeks to be Kept Before Butchering
Cornish Cross6-86-8
Kosher King8-97-8
Brown Broiler5-87-9
Ginger Broiler5
Freedom Ranger5-69-11
Cornish Roaster8-912-14
Chantecler3-712-16
Bresse4-716-20
Delaware3-616-20
Plymouth Rock4-716-20
New Hampshire Red6-816-20
Dorking7-919
Naked Neck6-820
Cochin8-1120
Dark Cornish8-1020
Jersey Giant10-1320
Orpington8-1020-22
Cornish8-1020-22
Barbezieux4-520-24
Brahma6-824-32

Tips on Raising Meat Chickens

Rearing a flock of broilers can be challenging. Before getting started, consider these things.

  • Protein-rich Diet – Meat chickens require a lot of protein in their diet. In their early weeks (specifically weeks 1 to 4), 22-24% of their diet should consist of protein. In the finisher weeks, the protein percentage can be dropped down to 18%.
  • Heat Source – When broilers are chicks, they need about 90 to 95ºF heat to survive. Gradually, the heat can be lowered by 5ºF each week as the chick grows. 
  • Proper Housing and Bedding – While raising a flock of broilers, it is necessary to enclose them in an indoor space that has at least 1.5 feet for each chicken to move around. The bedding provided for them to rest needs to keep them warm while also absorbing moisture. It should be made up of wood shavings or sawdust and changed weekly.

Like all chickens, they require clean water and a hygienic environment to grow healthy. Free-ranging meat chickens can also reduce conflicts among the flock. However, they also require proper shade and decent forage cover to work.

FAQs

1. What are the best meat chickens for beginners?

Cornish Cross, Jersey Giant, Bresse, etc.

2. Which meat chickens are considered ‘heritage breeds?’

Plymouth Rock, Orpingtons, Naked Neck, etc.

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