Meat Chickens - goods ones and not so good ones
If you're looking to raise meat chickens, then I need to tell you that they come in two forms; good meat producers, and those that will pass for meat on the table, but really shouldn't be considered meat birds.
Let's quickly review the four types of chickens you're likely to find available at your local feed store or hatchery: 1) egg layers; 2) dual purpose birds; 3) meat producers; and, 4) fancy show birds. Of course, there are other designations, but these are the four basic categories one can easily divide chickens into.
If you're looking for meat chickens, you'll want to stay focused on what is advertised as a meat bird, not a layer, not a dual purpose bird, and not a show bird. The reason being, meat birds are bred specifically to produce meat fast and efficiently. If that's what you're looking for, then you need to "go with a pro."
My vote for the best chickens for meat is clearly cast in favor of the Cornish Cross. They are serious producers of meat. I've raised them before and they are all business - they eat and produce meat.
The marketplace boasts many varieties of chicken that are known as dual purpose birds. To be sure, you can enjoy their eggs and then use them as a source of meat, but for the most part, these birds won't be nearly as satisfying on the table as chickens bred to produce meat.
You'll likely find them to be lacking in both size and weight, and their meat will also be a bit stringy, especially if you allow them to serve your needs for eggs first and then butcher them after a season or two of laying. You'll be happy with them in the pot, but most likely they'll disappoint you if you're looking for fried, baked, grilled or barbecued chicken.
The same holds true for layers and show birds. They have their place in the homestead flock, but don't count on them to serve your interest in the meat locker.
My suggestion is to stay focused on the primary intent of the bird; meat, eggs or show. If you do that, you won't be disappointed. You can always eat any of the chickens in your flock, but if your aim is meat, then you need to go with a breed known as one of the meat chickens, not a layer or a show bird.
Done with Meat Chickens, take me back to Backyard Chickens