There are numerous chicken breeds we use for meat and eggs these days.
The best breeds for both these purposes are large birds with good laying habits.
Cochin chickens are dual-purpose hens who are average layers, good mothers, and excellent meat birds. They take much longer than the typical broiler to grow to butchering size because they were bred as layers and not as meat birds. However, they are big enough to be well worth using for meat.
You may be surprised why Cochins are not used for meat more than eggs considering their size and only average egg production.
Keep reading to learn more about the breed and how to get the most out of your Cochin hens.
Why Cochins Are Not Strictly Meat Birds
While they are not generally considered broilers, Cochin hens and roosters make good meat birds.
So, why do we use them mainly for laying?
There are several reasons why we tend to raise Cochins, particularly hens.
To start with, these are beautiful birds with adorable fluffy feathers and come in plenty of color varieties.
From the Buff Cochin to the highly popular Brown Cochins, these birds are quite attractive.
They also have strong maternal instincts!
Cochin hens may not be known for having the highest egg production, but they are infamously attentive mothers.
This makes the Cochin breed a wonderful candidate for hatching and raising batches of chicks without having to purchase from a hatchery.
Their temperament makes them good lap chickens and a great addition to any flock.
Getting rid of a Cochin chicken is hard once you have gotten attached.
They are total sweethearts, which is why they are popular with most backyard poultry keepers.
Furthermore, Cochin hens are cold-hardy and do very well during winter.
Their body size helps them stay warm through harsh winters.
This breed is similar in appearance and temperament to the Brahma and Buff Orpingtons.
Like the Brahma, their bantam variety is popular too.
Bantam Cochins are one of the most popular bantam breeds available today.
They are not generally considered layers and are certainly not used as personal or commercial meat birds.
Rather, Bantam Cochins are kept as pets and used for shows because of their gentle disposition and beautiful feathering.
Cochins as Meat Birds
All this being said, Cochin birds have good meat quality and production.
Looking only at hens, this is how they compare with some of the chicken breeds most commonly used for meat:
|Breed||Size (lbs)||Butchering Age (months)|
The advantages of raising other broiler breeds are clear when we make simple comparisons like this.
Any breed specifically developed for meat production will be a fast grower and require little extra care and attention.
Cochins do not fit into these categories.
However, this does not mean Cochin chickens are not worth raising, even if you are primarily interested in raising your birdies for meat.
If you give them the opportunity, they are capable of hatching and caring for a batch of chicks as well.
Disregarding these benefits to this breed, Cochin chickens also provide a lot of meat once they are ready to be butchered.
Many poultry breeds are considered dual-purpose now.
But many farmers agree on the quality of Cochin meat.
Best Ways to Raise Cochins
We recommend raising your Cochin hens as dual-purpose birds.
Keeping them around for longer than the six months it takes for them to grow is optimal for several reasons:
- Egg Production
- Excellent Mothers
Cochin roosters and hens alike are frequently used as show birds.
Related Reading: Cochin Chicken Sexing Guide
The Bantam Cochin is more popular for this purpose.
However, the full-sized variety is great in the show setting as well!
They are equally beautiful and well-tempered, which is exactly what you want in a show breed.
Their body mass does require some extra space, though.
No chicken does particularly well in the confinement of exhibition cages, but Cochins handle this especially poorly.
Excessive plumage and large bodies make it difficult for Cochins to tolerate heat, sometimes made worse by cramped conditions.
So, be sure to keep an eye on their body temperature, depending on your climate.
Further Reading: How hot is too hot for Cochin chickens?
Egg Production and Maternal Instincts
While Cochin hens are not the most productive layers on the market, they lay about 2-3 eggs per week.
Of course, they will not seem especially impressive when thrown into a mixed flock of productive birds.
But they can hold their own.
If we compare them to birds bred solely for meat production, their laying capabilities certainly set Cochin hens apart.
Perhaps more significantly, your Cochins are likely to be the most maternal birdies in your flock.
They go broody frequently and are happy to sit on a clutch of eggs for ages, even if the eggs are not theirs.
When you want to hatch eggs of any breed, your Cochin hen will be your go-to broody mother.
Finally, Cochins are docile chickens who are safe around families with small children and with the other animals in your chicken pen.
Good companions for chicken keepers are hard to come by.
Even the most docile birds often dislike being touched or held.
But the Cochin is a calm chicken who tolerates people very well.
Despite their broodiness, they are not aggressive with people.
Because they weigh upwards of 8 pounds, many chicken keepers are surprised by how unimposing, and adorable Cochins are.
But it’s true!
These birdies are harmless and will fit in great with your backyard flock.
It is possible to use them for meat.
But don’t miss out on everything else they have to offer as well!
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