are jersey giants good meat birds

Jersey Giant chickens, the largest of all the chickens, are one of those rare breeds that really shouldn’t be rare. These are very sweet and versatile birds, suiting backyard, homestead, and barnyard needs.

Jersey Giants are friendly, docile birds that get along well with humans and other chickens alike. They do well both on the range and in large backyard runs. And they lay a good deal of eggs and provide a decent amount of meat. They can forage for a lot of their food, but they’re also good for snuggles.

However, Jersey Giants, like all breeds, do have their drawbacks and they aren’t for everybody. In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know to decide if these birds are right for you and your flock, including:

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Purpose one: The original meat bird

As the name suggests, two brothers named John and Thomas Black created this breed in New Jersey in the late 1800s. The turkey was the main table bird at the time, and these were the first “commercial” meat chickens bred to replace it. This was probably because other chicken breeds were too thin to make a substantial meal, a fact we’ve discovered is still true today. They are considered the largest purebred chicken breed.

The colors of the Jersey Giants are black, white, and “blue” (a slate-gray color with a blue tint). Since black is the dominant gene, breeding two recessive white birds produces white birds. Blue giants come from an incomplete dominant gene. Additionally, there is a “splash” variety where the bird carries two copies of the blue gene. Splash birds have whitish streaks or have a paler slate color. They cannot be raised as show birds since they are not considered an “official” variety. Black people tend to weigh around one pound more than white people on average.

In the meat industry today, the quickly expanding Cornish Cross has completely replaced the slower-growing Jersey Giant, a decision that makes perfect financial sense. But for the self-sufficient homestead, where “quick” isn’t as important as “humane” and “reproducible,” the Jersey Giant has worked out wonderfully for us. All year long, Jersey Giant hens will go broody and are excellent brown egg layers. When they reach adulthood, their size is comparable to other large breed hens.

Murray McMurray Hatchery sent us ten pullets and five straight-run (unsexed) chicks in June 2015, and they were all very healthy when they arrived. Three of the chicks that ran straight were roosters, one of which was killed by a coyote.

Since our two roosters are the sires of our flock, we haven’t killed them. As of this writing, we have a few young second-generation roosters that are not yet mature enough to be butchered, but our mature boys currently weigh about 12 pounds each. When it comes time to butcher a chicken, we can estimate that it will weigh roughly nine pounds in the freezer based on the average ratio of dressed weight to live weight (dressed chickens are approximately 75% of live weight). Since most chickens are processed at about 4. 5 pounds live weight, we expect a satisfactorily hefty roaster.

It’s well known that Jersey Giants grow “slower” than other hen breeds. They actually grow at the same rate; they simply need to reach their full size sooner. They usually acquire their large frame first, then gain weight subsequently. It is thought that roosters have a poor feed/weight conversion because it takes them approximately nine months to reach their maximum weight. Once more, that matters for businesses, but not so much for homesteads.

Since the hens aren’t much bigger than Rhode Island Reds or Black Australorps, we’ve focused our meat efforts on the roosters. For protection and fertilization, we keep the two adult roosters with the hens, and they are all allowed to roam freely. Our young roosters that will be frozen are housed in a different pen with a sizable fenced-in area. Our feed costs are significantly reduced when we let our hens roam freely outside and in the barn compost because it supplements their diet to a large extent. In addition to feeding our family, we are also trying to grow more corn and wheat for them.

Free-ranging birds significantly lessen their reliance on commercial feed, especially in the warmer months. Our large compost pile made from barn waste is well-utilized by our birds. (Another article will cover our efforts to grow enough wheat and corn for human consumption as well as chicken feed.) ).

The Top 10 reasons to get Jersey Giant chickens

Jersey Giants are, on average, the largest chicken breed. Yes, even larger than the mighty Asiatic giants—Brahmas,Cochins, and Langshans.

A typical Jersey Giant hen weighs about 10 pounds, and a rooster weighs about 13 pounds. Think about that for a minute. More weight will be gained by your Jersey Giant hens than by most of your other breeds of roosters!

Jersey Giants can grow up to two feet tall, with roosters reaching up to two feet and hens reaching up to one foot. 5 feet. But the rare and exquisite Malay chicken breed holds that title for being the tallest chicken breed.

Why the heck are Jersey Giants so large? They were purposely developed this way in the late 1800s by their creators, John and Thomas Black. As Frances Bassom says in her book,

The Black brothers succeeded in their mission, even though the Jersey Giant hasn’t exactly taken the place of the turkey at most of our Thanksgiving meals. Watch the “HUGE Jersey Giant rooster bigger than turkey!” YouTube video below.

“This is Jack the giant rooster next to a fully grown female turkey named Gobbles ?? biggest rooster ever,” says the description of the video. ”.

Jersey Giants are gorgeous. They are available in several varieties, but not all of them are approved by the American Poultry Association. And they also come in bantam (i. e. , miniature) forms.

The Jersey Giant’s most well-known colors are Blue, White, and Black. There is a Splash variety of the birds as well, and some breeders are reportedly working on Barred and Silver varieties as well.

Black Jersey Giants are the most common variety. When their black feathers catch the sun’s rays, they have an amazing iridescent green sheen that is simply stunning.

Here is a video of the stunning Black Jersey Giants.

The video below shows the White Jersey Giant variety.

Here are the Blue Jersey Giants; skip ahead to around 15 seconds to see a clear shot of the grownups.

Of course, Jersey Giant chicks are cute (aren’t all chicks?). You can watch a video of Black Jersey Giant girls below.

Additionally, a video of White Jersey Giant girls can be found here. Notice how the chicks are a smoky gray color. It’s unbelievable to think these infants will grow up to be enormous white birds, but it’s true!

Although Jersey Giant hens don’t lay a lot of eggs, they do typically lay a respectable amount of brown eggs.

Brown eggs with large to extra large sizes; varying ages; three eggs per week; one hundred eggs annually

The age that Jersey Giants start laying varies greatly. According to some, the Jersey Giants take eight to ten months—or even a year—to lay their bases. Others have said their Giants laid at about 5 months.

Additionally, some Jersey Giants hatchery strains are far better layers than the majority They can lay up to four eggs per week, or 200 eggs annually, and they lay early—about five months.

The Jersey Giants do have a tendency to stay in the ground throughout the winter.

Watch the video below to witness the hatching of a young Blue Jersey Giant hen. This egg has no shell. This is only her second egg, according to the man in the video. She’s still learning, which probably explains why her egg has no shell and why she’s lying out in the open grass instead of a nesting box.

See what a jersey giant egg usually looks like by watching the video below, and rewind to minute 2. 5 minutes to see the egg.

Although it takes a very long time for Jersey Giants to reach their marketable weight of 8 to 11 pounds, they do yield excellent meat if you are patient. Many homesteaders use them as roasting birds.

It’s true that Jersey Giants have a brooding tendencies and are great moms. Some hatchery strains, however, don’t tend to go broody. Therefore, before making a purchase, make sure to check with your breeder or hatchery if broodiness—or lack thereof—is important to you.

A video of a broody Jersey Giant hen sitting on her eggs can be seen below.

Jersey Giants are hardy birds that enjoy being left free to roam. They love to forage. But because they are a large breed, they will still need a lot of food.

In addition, Jersey Giants—at least the Black variety—tend to do better against predators than most other breeds. Whatever the breed, white chickens always stand out.

However, some Jersey Giants are fierce birds and will engage in combat with an aggressor. A Jersey Giants keeper reported that her two roosters killed a hawk before she could chase it away. ”.

Here’s an illustration of a Jersey Giant defending herself. In the video, a Blue Jersey Giant hen is being resisted by a Blue Heeler dog who is attempting to herd her.

The scenario is described in the video’s caption: “Daisy, our Blue Heeler dog, is adamant that it is the Blue Jersey Giant hen’s bedtime.” Daisy’s responsibility is to wake up the hens each night. ”.

Compared to many other breeds, Jersey Giant chickens appear to be less afraid, which could be advantageous or detrimental. The video below provides an example of this low degree of fear. Even though a watchful dog approaches and stares down the determined Jersey Giant hen, she still intends to take a dust bath in her designated spot. Observe how the dog approached the other hen, which was not a Jersey Giant, and she fled right away.

Additionally, a Black Jersey Giant hen playing fearlessly with a dead snake is seen in this video.

As far as hens go, many Jersey Giant keepers report that their hens do extremely well against hawks and other predatory birds. But they still may fall prey to other animals. “They were large enough that hawks left them alone, but, unfortunately, we had to stay one jump ahead of the foxes,” one flock keeper remarked of her group.

Jersey Giants are very calm and docile chickens. The video below illustrates their demeanor perfectly. “Young Jersey hen with a Jersey attitude” is the title of the video. You can see that Venus, the chicken, is so at ease that she doesn’t even flinch when two enormous German shepherds play next to her. She actually even seems interested in what they’re doing.

Additionally, many Jersey giants enjoy cuddling with their keepers and can be very sweet and friendly.

Her hen “is very attached, especially to me, and likes to hop up on the arm of any chair I’m in and just chat away,” according to a Jersey Giants keeper. She likes to be petted. ”.

About hers, another person remarked, “She never pecked anybody and enjoyed being held.” She would pose as the peacemaker between two other squawking chickens. ”.

Children can have a great time with Jersey Giants due to their docile nature. A youngster is seen below caressing a Black Jersey Giant teenage girl.

But, due to their size, you should exercise caution when around small children, especially Jersey Giants.

Even Jersey Giant roosters tend to be sweethearts. Any breed can, of course, produce an aggressive rooster occasionally, but this particular breed tends to be docile and amiable.

Jersey Giants typically get along well with other breeds of chickens as well as with one another.

Some Jersey Giants may even be tolerant of other roosters.

However, check out the video below. A Jersey Giant rooster and a small Silkie rooster are shown sparring. Even though it doesn’t seem like a fair fight, little Silkie isn’t giving up!

Jersey Giants are now under the Livestock Conservancy’s “Watch” conservation status. ” Sadly, this breed is low in numbers today.

The 8 reasons Jersey Giants aren’t for you

The Jersey Giants don’t exactly flourish in small run environments, even though they might be able to withstand it. These are large, roving birds that do best in a large backyard or on a free-range environment because they enjoy exploring and feeding.

Due to their larger size than typical hens, Jersey Giants require slightly different coop construction or modification to accommodate their larger needs.

  • Jersey Giants will need more space on their roosting bars.
  • Because they are unable to fly and risk breaking their legs when they jump from heights, they require lower roosting bars.
  • They need larger pop hole doors.
  • They need larger nesting boxes.
  • They need more space in their coop.

The video of a Jersey Giant whose pop door is nearly too small for her to use is below.

It’s reasonable to assume that Jersey Giants will only lay roughly three eggs each week—not many, but not many.

Don’t be one of the many backyard chicken keepers who are unprepared for broody hens! You might not want to raise Jersey Giants if you don’t want your hens to hatch and raise chicks.

Of course, even if you don’t want chicks, you can still raise broody hens in your backyard. But keep in mind that breaking your hens’ broodiness will require a lot of additional work, so consider that before making your choice.

Additionally, you will need to exercise caution if you choose to acquire broody breeds. It is not good for your hens to remain broody without eggs hatching; you want to avoid this.

Jersey Giants are very slow growing, even though they can provide you and your family with a lot of meat. It might take them eight or nine months to get to a harvestable weight.

View the films in the slideshow below to observe the growth rate of the Jersey Giant breed. Videos of the Jersey Giants at two weeks, one month, and two 5 months, 4. 5 months, and 9 months, respectively.

In order to get your Jersey Giants to a harvestable weight, you will also need to feed them a lot of food. They have a poor feed-to-meat conversion. These guys really like to eat.

You can watch a video of the Jersey Giants contentedly eating below.

Compared to many breeds, Jersey Giant birds are more resilient to the harsh winters. A group of Black Jersey Giants can be seen in Georgia’s snow below.

But owning Jersey Giants during the chilly winter months has a significant drawback: their enormous single combs.

Large single-comb chickens are more likely to get frostbite, which is an excruciatingly painful condition. Jersey Giants, particularly roosters, are very susceptible.

By covering your roosting bars with Sweeter Heaters, you can prevent comb frostbite. Although they don’t heat the entire coop, these incredibly safe radiant heaters keep your chickens’ combs from freezing and make them much more comfortable on those chilly winter nights.

But if installing a Sweeter Heater in your coop is out of the question for you, think about getting a different breed with a comb better suited for the cold. For instance, you might want to research Buckeyes, Chanteclers, or Brahmas.

Additionally, you should ensure that your Jersey Giant roosters aren’t kept in bowl-style waterers throughout the winter. These kinds of waterers can get the wattles of roosters wet, which causes them to freeze. During my first year of raising chickens, one of my roosters experienced this; he was in excruciating pain and I had to bring him inside for several months until he recovered. Don’t make my mistake!.

Below, you can see what I mean. You can see the Jersey Giants rooster drinking from a bowl and getting wet on his wattles at one minute and thirty seconds into the video. Without a doubt, these wattles will freeze in the winter and get frostbite.

To prevent this, consider using a poultry nipple waterer.

Due to their large and fluffy breed, Jersey Giants are not heat-tolerant. You might need to take extra measures to keep them cool if you have hot summers.

While all hens make some noise, Jersey Giants are recognized for being somewhat chattier than other varieties.

You might have an issue with this if you live close to your neighbors. This was noted by a chicken keeper who said, “I have to rate them lower overall because of their tendency to squawk and complain very loudly. If we lived in a less populated area, perhaps I would give them a five star rating.” ”.

You might truly enjoy the sounds of your Jersey Giants if you don’t have any close neighbors. With regard to her flock, one chicken keeper observed, “…the vocalizations they make…are often very un-chicken-like.” They chortle, and warble, and coo like doves. ”.

“She makes lots of noise, which some people might view as a negative, but it makes my whole family laugh,” another keeper said of her hen.

A video of Goose, a young Blue Jersey Giant rooster, making adorable little noises can be seen below. The caption reads, “Goose, demonstrating why he got his name. ”.

And below, you can here a Jersey Giant’s high-pitched crow.

In contrast, a Jersey Giant can be heard crowing at a lower pitch at around the 14-second mark.


What age do you butcher Jersey Giant chickens?

Though they are slower growing, their size makes up for it. The one downside is that they do take more feed to get the same amount of meat as other hybrid meat birds do. You can process Jersey Giant chickens as early as 8 to 10 weeks and they will often big as bigs as a 6-month-old chicken of a standard breed.

What is the main use of the Jersey Giant chicken?

The Jersey Giant is a dual-purpose fowl for meat and eggs. This fowl lays around 150-200 eggs per year depending on conditions such as the weather and level of comfort for the chickens.

What is the difference between a Cornish Cross and a Jersey Giant?

With its rapid growth and broad breasts, the Cornish Cross is a testament to commercial efficiency. The Jersey Giant, on the other hand, offers a robust size and a slower growth pattern, allowing for flavor development and versatility.

What is the best meat bird to raise?

Cornish, Plymouth Rock and New Hampshire breeds are the most economical meat strains. These crosses feather rapidly and mature early and have the most economical conversion of feed to poultry meat. Some flock owners use White or Barred Plymouth Rocks, Rhode Island Reds and New Hampshires for meat.