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Reply To: Chicken Breeds
MemberNovember 30, 2023 at 2:10 am
I have raised chickens on and off for over 45 years. My mother currently has about 400 chickens that she raises to sell eggs to the local health food market. My opinion on getting two different breeds one for eggs and one for meat depends on the circumstances you find yourself in. If you were planning on raising chickens and concerned about the world in which we live, I would look at getting any good breed of dual purpose bird, that is excellent at foraging on its own for food. And just get one breed and focus on perfecting that breed for your area, what I would do is get something like a Black Jersey Giant.
Buy say 100 (for easy math and percentages) straight run day old chicks from a reputable Hatchery, raise them until you can easily sex them, 8-10 weeks old. Assuming a 50/50 ratio, choose 40 cockrell’s to caponize (surgically castrate), planning on 10 Sexually mature roosters (which will later be reduced to 5-6, to protect and fertilize the 50 hens.
The process of caponizing the Cockrells can easily be learned in a couple hours of watching YouTube videos. The first time I did it, I watched several videos and caponized 22 cockrells in about three hours. The first ‘victim’ took almost an hour, and he didn’t survive the surgery, the other 21 survived and thrived. Several of them were eaten within 2 years, a couple became really broody, so we let them sit on large clutches of fertile eggs, and they were excellent and protective surrogate mother ‘hens’. One capon we ate at about 3-1/2 years old, and it was a bit tougher than the other ones, but it made an excellent bone broth.
Once you get into the hang of it, you can have your flock reproduce another 50 to 100 birds a year, the rest of the eggs you can barter for other things or sell.
Caponizing Cockrells sounds complicated and maybe you never have heard of the process, it is a simple surgical process where you pull out the testicles in a minor surgery and they then grow a bit heavier than the roosters, as they grow out female secondary sex characteristics on a rooster-sized skeletal frame.
Capons have wonderful, tender meat but they take a lot longer to grow a full harvest size, hence you want a breed that it able to forage for much of its own food. A Black Jersey Giant Capon could weigh as much as 16 to 18 pounds when fully mature at about 10 to 14 months and would rival a small turkey in size and be tender like a young roaster.
This is a sustainable practice that has been done for thousands of years in Asia. You could choose any number of traditional American chicken breeds such as Rhode Island Red, Buff Orpington, or as I chose, Black Jersey Giants, which is a fairly well know breed, known to be a great dual purpose breed, and also the largest breed of chicken.
There are a number of YouTube videos that will show you exactly how to caponize a 10-14 week old Cockrell. You will also want to purchase a caponizing kit, they sell on Amazon for anywhere from $25-$75. I would get a better one. As the tools will both last longer, and be easier to use, plus I would buy a quality rub spreader, not a cheap one that comes in the kit. Also, get a dozen or more disposable scalpel blades.
Good luck. Let me know if you have any questions.