Meat chickens are breeds that have been bred over the years to produce the highest amount of meat possible per each bird. They are usually large with broad chests and big thighs and tend to look like the football players of the chicken breeds. Meat chickens are usually poor egg producers, although there are several dual-purpose breeds that have both a decent amount of meat and lay a good amount of eggs. The breed you choose will probably depend on your purpose. Do you want a good all-around bird for your backyard that will provide your family with eggs but also put meat on your table? Then you likely would want to choose one of the dual-purpose breeds. But if you’re only raising chickens for meat and want a bird that will give you the highest meat yield, then stick with one of the following meat chicken breeds.
The first type is not technically a breed, but rather a hybrid cross known as the Cornish Cross or Cornish Rock. It is a cross between the White Cornish and the Plymouth Rock. It is the primary breed used by those raising chickens for meat as well as by the commercial chicken meat industry today. They grow fast and have a very broad, well-muscled body. So much so, that if left to grow, they can actually collapse under their own weight. These birds are usually slaughtered between 6 – 10 weeks.
Next of the meat chickens is the Cornish. As mentioned above, it is used for creating the Cornish Rock, but it is also a good meat bird in its own right. The Cornish is a popular choice for those raising chickens for meat that are not interested in hybrid crosses. It is known for having good meat quality as well as good flavor. It is another fast growing breed that has a large broad body and wide set legs. It has nice light flesh that dresses easily. Cornish are great for broilers or fryers.
Due to its size, the Jersey Giant also falls in the class of being one of the good meat chickens. Although technically it is a dual-purpose breed, as it has decent egg laying capability, they excel at meat production as well. It used to be well used in the commercial meat industry, but due to its slower growth, has mainly been replaced by the Cornish Rocks. But if you don’t mind the slower growth and are interested in a heritage breed, the Jersey Giant is a great choice. They also make a good choice for producing large, excellent capons – a castrated rooster known for very tender and flavorful meat.
Now if you want good meat chickens but also want eggs, then other good dual-purpose breeds aside from the Jersey Giant would be the Plymouth Rock, Orpington, and Buckeye. Each of these breeds lay a decent amount of eggs and are also great quality meat chickens.