Broiler Breeders:  Hybrid chickens produced by crossing white Plymouth Rock and Cornish breeds. These sires and dams have been bred with desired characteristics to produce the final progeny which are broilers, or the meat bird that reaches the consumer. The mature breeder hens weigh from 6-8 lbs. but may weigh up to 10 lbs. These birds come into production around 23-25 weeks of age and peak in egg production at 30-32 weeks of age, usually around 80%. Hatching eggs are produced by these hens for about 10 months. These birds are expected to produce around 140-150 eggs per bird on a feed ratio of 6.5 lbs. of feed per one dozen eggs. Feed intake is restricted to approximately 32 lbs./100 hens per day. The usual breeding ratio is 10 hens per rooster. Spent hens (hens that have stopped laying) are sold as "heavy hens", usually frozen. Roosters are used in further processed products such as soup.

Broilers: These birds are the progeny of the breeders described above. The broiler is usually marketed at around 6-7 weeks of age and weighs from 3.5 to 4 lbs. Average feed conversion ratios are 1.8 to 2.5 lbs. of feed to produce one pound of live broiler. The meat from these birds is used in all types of poultry products. In the past, broilers were marketed as fresh, ice packed whole birds. They are now marketed as parts and precooked.

Roasters: These birds are not progeny of broiler breeders but have their own line of parents. The roaster is usually marketed at around 12 weeks of age and weighs around 8 pounds. Average feed conversion ratio is 2.55 of feed to produce one pound of live bird.

Turkey Breeders: Hens start laying at 28-30 weeks of age. Expect 50 poults produced per hen. All commercial turkeys are artificially bred.

Turkeys: Poults are sexually immature male or female turkeys. Toms (males) are marketed at around 23-25 weeks of age and weigh from 25-30 lbs. at that time. Hens are marketed at 18 weeks of age and weigh from 14- 16 lbs. Feed ratios are usually 3.1 to 3.5 lbs. of feed per l lb. of live turkey. Toms and hens are usually raised separately and housed in broiler type houses or are ranged.


Light Breeder Hens (Commercial Layer Breeders): These birds produce the progeny mentioned below. Specific breed lines have been developed with high egg production as the main objective. Breeding ratio is 10 hens per rooster.

Commercial Layers: Usually leghorn hybrids that are used for the purpose of producing eggs (infertile) for human consumption. The mature hens weigh about 3.5 to 4.5 lbs. These birds come in production at 23-25 weeks of age and peak in egg production at 28-32 weeks, usually around 90%. The hens are kept for about 14 months of lay and are expected to produce from 250-270 eggs. No roosters are required. Feed intake is 22-25 lbs./100 hens per day. Spent hens are sold for processed poultry meat.

*Note: The term pullet usually refers to sexually immature female chickens (layers, breeder, broilers). Disregard the definition on page 269 (Avian Disease Manual).


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