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How Long Before Chicks Reach Market Weight?

Broilers, or chickens bred for meat production, reach maturity between 7 and 9 weeks. These breeds grow faster than chickens that are kept for egg-laying purposes. Layers mature after about six months, at which point they start laying eggs reliably.

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Most broilers weigh about four pounds when they’re slaughtered. Chickens at this size, below the age of 12 weeks, have the most tender meat and will taste the freshest. Older chickens can taste a bit gamey, and the flavor is an acquired taste.

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If you’re keeping backyard chickens, you’ll want to decide in advance if you plan to raise them for meat or for eggs. There are some all-purpose chicken breeds, but most fowl will be better for one use or the other. Most hobbyists find it easier and more rewarding to raise chickens for eggs. Although it does take a bit longer for the birds to mature and start laying, you can get a reliable and steady food source from eggs for several years. And you won’t have to deal with the messy business of slaughtering and butchering the birds.

"People talk about fools counting chickens before they hatch. That's nothing. We name them."
-- Orson Scott Card, Alvin Journeyman

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