Mechelen chick

Mechelen chicks feeding

European Meat Birds Arrived Today

During the course of our research into a breeding program for the Bresse, we stumbled across the Mechelen. They are another dual purpose heritage breed chicken with European roots. Mechelen are classics of the heritage meat bird trend, stocky and large.

As novice farmers, we began our adventure in animal husbandry with our Sex Links laying hens. Raising laying hens was another perfect addition to our five acres. We love having farm fresh eggs to eat and share with the community.

After learning how easy it is to keep chickens, we wanted to begin raising our own poultry for meat, instead of buying factory-farmed meat at the grocery stores. We first tried raising Cornish crosses. These are the chickens you buy at your local grocery store. (Even the chicken labeled *organic* is probably a Cornish cross.) Their claim to fame is “6 pounds in 6 weeks” – and sometimes less than 6 weeks. We elected to adhere to our healthy, happy philosophy and free-range our Cornish crosses. The birds are calm and docile which is great. But these birds are a genetic mess! (I’ll post separately about the challenges we faced.)

We also raised Freedom Rangers (or red broilers), but these are just the Cornish cross mixed with another breed (I believe it is the Rhode Island Red). These chickens were okay to raise, but nothing special in terms of taste.

Ultimately, we decided to raise heritage breeds exclusively. One day, while researching our options, we came across the Mechelen (often called Coucou de Malines).

The Mechelen will reach sizes of 7.5 to 11 pounds. Like most heritage breeds, they are slow growing. It will take about 5-6 months to attain these weights. Because of their large size, they don’t fly. As a dual purpose bird, they are good egg layers. But their primary purpose on our farm will be for meat production. The Mechelen have a calm and balanced disposition which is perfect for our happy farm. The chicks have arrived and we’re on our way!

Contact us if you’re interested in buying hatching eggs.