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Do all chicken breeds taste the same?  RSS feed

 
Joan Perez
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At the moment I don't have chickens, but I do have a plan to have a flock in the future. I wonder if there is any breed of chicken that have been developed only by the taste.

If I put 10 different breeds in a tractor or a paddock and I feed them the same, they will develope different tastes at harvesting time? I mean I can distinguish the taste of a duck to a chicken or a quail to a partridge. Independent of size or if one meat is leaner than the other... If so, which is the best breed, just for taste?
 
David Livingston
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Unfortunately this is one of those things that are hard to guage being a matter of opinion, I personally find what the bird is fed on a better indecator of taste than type . Most breeds have been bred either to grow faster , have more eggs , cope with local conditions or look "nice " . You pays your money and takes your choice
Also how you cook them and age count too
 
Marcus Billings
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Hi Joan,  The most flavorful breed is the "Kentucky Fried"!    Sorry, I couldn't resist.  Truthfully though, David is right, diet, age of the bird, how it's cooked, and habitat are the main factors in taste, and in my opinion, in that order.
 
stephen lowe
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I was looking into this recently and there are definitely breeds renowned for their flavor. I actually found a SARE funded trial of heritage meat birds and a blind taste test was one variable that the farmer used to rank the various heritage birds. They found that there was definitely a measure of personal preference and I don't think any one bird was the favorite of all the judges. I would recommend trying different breeds and seeing which ones you like the taste of best.
 
Wes Hunter
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stephen lowe wrote:I was looking into this recently and there are definitely breeds renowned for their flavor. I actually found a SARE funded trial of heritage meat birds and a blind taste test was one variable that the farmer used to rank the various heritage birds. They found that there was definitely a measure of personal preference and I don't think any one bird was the favorite of all the judges. I would recommend trying different breeds and seeing which ones you like the taste of best.


That was me!

Short answer: Yes, they taste different.

Long answer: You're probably only going to be able to note any differences in flavor if you taste side-by-side, as they're fairly subtle.  You shouldn't expect to eat one breed one week and a different breed the next week and have the differences be obvious.  The exception to this is the Cornish-Cross, which is notably blander than slower-growing breeds, and has a different texture too.

Though it is certainly subjective, there are breeds that are known for the quality of their meat.  Among them are the Sussex, Dorking, and a number of French breeds.  In our project, the Sussex was the winner of the breeds we tasted.  We repeated this tasting event with a different group of people, and the Sussex won then, too, so while it is subjective I think there is something to the idea of certain breeds being (generally) better than others.

All that said, I would put meat flavor pretty low on your list of attributes to aid in breed selection.  As long as you're raising slow-growing breeds (as in, ones that don't reach butcher weight until about 16 weeks), and as long as you raise them well, feed them right, and know how to best process them, they're all going to be delicious.  If it so happens that a breed like the Sussex or Dorking is what works best in your particular situation, so much the better.

edit: Here is a link to the project's final report:
https://projects.sare.org/project-reports/fnc12-866/
 
kevin stewart
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Can't help myself.
1_jpegee44ff212cea7965fa72c357b8eca7e1.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 1_jpegee44ff212cea7965fa72c357b8eca7e1.jpeg]
 
James Freyr
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Ha! Kevin, I laughed out loud on that one.

I'll echo the same things, that diet, and especially age of bird can play a big factor as well as what each individual likes. I bought some frozen heritage breed birds from a local farmer once and he touted them as flavorful! While yes, they were a little richer in flavor than locally raised cornish cross that I've had also, it was like chewing on a shoe. I never grilled anymore of that chicken, it all went into the crock pot for 12 hours to make it chewable. It did make for delicious chicken stews.

So while we're on chicken taste, apparently the french Bresse reigns supreme over there in france as the sought after and most flavorful bird. The american Bresse is available here in the states and supposedly the meat will marble with the right diet. I have not tried a Bresse, but it is a bird I'm interested in raising myself in the not too distant future. When I do get around to it, I'll certainly report back.
 
Wes Hunter
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James Freyr wrote:I bought some frozen heritage breed birds from a local farmer once and he touted them as flavorful! While yes, they were a little richer in flavor than locally raised cornish cross that I've had also, it was like chewing on a shoe. I never grilled anymore of that chicken, it all went into the crock pot for 12 hours to make it chewable. It did make for delicious chicken stews.


I would venture a guess that those birds were either quite old or were just cooked incorrectly.  Toughness isn't inherent, but is a function of how a bird is cooked.

A "fryer" or "roaster" of 16 to about 24 weeks of age should never be tough when roasted or grilled.  Over that age, and a different cooking method is required.  I like to tell our customers that our chickens are "firm."  That sounds like a euphemism for "tough," but it isn't.  The opposite of "tough" is "tender," while the opposite of "firm" is "soft."  To my palate, at least, the Cornish-Cross is soft, which I find unappetizing.  I wonder if a lot of folks, used to the softness of the CRX, eat a "firm" heritage breed and misdiagnose it as "tough."

For my money, the best way to cook a heritage bird is to roast it hot and fast.  Somewhere between about 425 and 450F.  A 3-lb. bird will take about 45 minutes.  A healthy dose of salt before it goes in the oven, a 10-15 minute rest after it comes out, and you're golden.
 
stephen lowe
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Wes Hunter wrote:
stephen lowe wrote:I was looking into this recently and there are definitely breeds renowned for their flavor. I actually found a SARE funded trial of heritage meat birds and a blind taste test was one variable that the farmer used to rank the various heritage birds. They found that there was definitely a measure of personal preference and I don't think any one bird was the favorite of all the judges. I would recommend trying different breeds and seeing which ones you like the taste of best.


That was me!

Short answer: Yes, they taste different.

Long answer: You're probably only going to be able to note any differences in flavor if you taste side-by-side, as they're fairly subtle.  You shouldn't expect to eat one breed one week and a different breed the next week and have the differences be obvious.  The exception to this is the Cornish-Cross, which is notably blander than slower-growing breeds, and has a different texture too.

Though it is certainly subjective, there are breeds that are known for the quality of their meat.  Among them are the Sussex, Dorking, and a number of French breeds.  In our project, the Sussex was the winner of the breeds we tasted.  We repeated this tasting event with a different group of people, and the Sussex won then, too, so while it is subjective I think there is something to the idea of certain breeds being (generally) better than others.

All that said, I would put meat flavor pretty low on your list of attributes to aid in breed selection.  As long as you're raising slow-growing breeds (as in, ones that don't reach butcher weight until about 16 weeks), and as long as you raise them well, feed them right, and know how to best process them, they're all going to be delicious.  If it so happens that a breed like the Sussex or Dorking is what works best in your particular situation, so much the better.

edit: Here is a link to the project's final report:
https://projects.sare.org/project-reports/fnc12-866/


Awesome, I loved the study. I am planning a grazing rotation with sheep followed by heritage broilers for next year and I have been referring back to the write up regularly to help me plan what breed/breeds to run in the broiler. Are you guys still raising heritage meat birds commercially? Have you found a particular breed that works for you? Have you done any work breeding your own flock?
 
Wes Hunter
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stephen lowe wrote:Awesome, I loved the study. I am planning a grazing rotation with sheep followed by heritage broilers for next year and I have been referring back to the write up regularly to help me plan what breed/breeds to run in the broiler. Are you guys still raising heritage meat birds commercially? Have you found a particular breed that works for you? Have you done any work breeding your own flock?


Yes, we are still doing it commercially, in the range of 200-400 birds per year.  (We also raise turkeys, ducks, guineas, and geese.)  Starting a breeding program is still in the "someday" stage.  Hopefully next year.

We've raised a number of other varieties, but the White Rock has been our go-to.  With hatchery stock, they have been consistent and reliable.  As an added bonus, we started dry plucking this year, and white-feathered birds pluck a lot cleaner than colored-feathered birds.  With wet plucking, the difference is much smaller.
 
Kathleen Sanderson
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Wes Hunter, have you ever tried the Slow White broilers from Welp hatchery?  I have a friend who loves them, and says they breed true (and are good layers).  I was doing some research and a couple of people thought they were probably just good big White Rocks.  I have been considering getting some (I prefer colored birds over white), and may go ahead and do it next year.

Kathleen
 
Wes Hunter
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Kathleen Sanderson wrote:Wes Hunter, have you ever tried the Slow White broilers from Welp hatchery?  I have a friend who loves them, and says they breed true (and are good layers).  I was doing some research and a couple of people thought they were probably just good big White Rocks.  I have been considering getting some (I prefer colored birds over white), and may go ahead and do it next year.

Kathleen


I haven't.  I would doubt that they're just big White Rocks.  Heritage breeds are somewhat trendy, and it seems a silly business decision to not market them as such if that's what they are.  A few other hatcheries are offering more meaty-type strains of the old breeds, so I'd expect them to make it clear if that's what these were.
 
wayne fajkus
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The drumstick of a chicken you raise will look different than the drumstick of the commercially raised chicken you bought at the store.

Site can effect taste cause its different.

 
Bryant RedHawk
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Most chicken you see in the grocery stores is most always the Cornish/ Rock cross meat bird, they were developed to be ready for market in 7 weeks, not enough time of living for a bird to gain any meat flavor.
This variety gains weight so fast that at 8 weeks old the legs can not support the bird. If you raise them as true free ranging birds, they will taste better, but they still won't have the texture since they grow so fast.

What a chicken eats also has a lot to do with how the meat will taste, a bird that forages all day will taste different and have different texture than a commercially raised bird.
If the bird can't wander around much, it will not develop great texture, if it is fed commercial feed all the time, it will be very bland.

Some of the better breeds for homestead meat birds are also great layers, RIR, Leghorn, and many other Large frame birds were initially developed just for this dual purpose.

My experience has been that flavor in chickens functions a lot like pork, what they eat those last few months of life has a great influence on how they taste.

Upon checking Welp hatchery, that slow white broiler looks a lot like it is a Cornish x leghorn which would grow large but at a slower rate than the Cornish x Rock.

Redhawk
 
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