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 Finding Small Broiler-Fryers

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  • Total Posts: 1286
  • Joined: 11/29/2005
  • Location: South FL
Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Tue, 04/6/10 4:02 PM (permalink)
I'm having a difficult time finding chickens or pieces around a 2 3/4-3lb class. Both major chains around here only carry Roaster size whole chickens and the tray packed parts are about the same size class. Below that size they jump to Cornish hens 2lbs and below. It seems that you can't find chickens of this class outside of food service. Checking the indies and Latin markets turns up the same. Broiler-fryers generally are defined to be within the 3-6 lbs and about 16 weeks old. There doesn't even seem to be a USDA or industry classification for this size. The major bulk of US chicken farm production is within this size class between 6-7 weeks old.
Is this the same elsewhere?
    Born in OKC

    • Total Posts: 428
    • Joined: 4/11/2005
    • Location: atlanta, GA
    Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 5:36 AM (permalink)
    The situation around Atlanta is much like you describe.  There are “Cornish hens” which are small, at lot of chickens cut up or whole that are four pounds or so, and large ”roasters.”   I don’t know about the ages  but  it is no longer like the chickens  I remember from childhood. 
    There is an interesting piece that touches on chicken sizes by  Kathryn McGowan at:
    What are stated to be the current USDA regulations are referenced in the blog and are seen at:
     I would agree the US regs promote or permit the chicken weights seen at  the grocer.

      • Total Posts: 430
      • Joined: 5/26/2003
      • Location: Burlington, NC
      Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 10:25 AM (permalink)
      Guess I am lucky to find these small chickens weighing 2-3 lbs. in a local market (not a chain). I buy them all the time to roast or cook for soup or casseroles. Try to find a small country-style market in the outlying areas around you. The type that makes their own sausage and carries dried beans and produce too.  My local store is Steve's Garden Market in Graham, NC. A great local market!

        • Total Posts: 113
        • Joined: 11/20/2008
        Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 10:38 AM (permalink)
        All natural, organic, free-range, Kosher and Halal birds all tend to be smaller than supermarket brands.  Also more expensive and not necessarily better tasting.  Check into Halal or Kosher butchers, all natural food stores, etc.  Around here a pretty wide spread brand is Buddy's All Natural, available in better supermarkets and grown SW of Houston but check into just what that term means.

        This is a long shot but in the Philippines, fried chicken is made with very small birds, fried, batterless, whole or halved.  A half chicken is only about the size of a leg quarter of a supermarket chicken here.  I've never looked but if you have any Filipino markets, you might check what they're selling.

          • Total Posts: 1
          • Joined: 4/7/2010
          • Location: Brooklyn, NY
          Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 10:48 AM (permalink)
          Born in OKC

          There is an interesting piece that touches on chicken sizes by  Kathryn McGowan at:

          What are stated to be the current USDA regulations are referenced in the blog and are seen at:

           I would agree the US regs promote or permit the chicken weights seen at  the grocer.

          Thanks for posting a link to my blog, I hope it is helpful.  I had the same problem finding a small chicken in New York City where I live.  I went to about 5 places and the smallest they had was 3.5 pounds.  I find it really interesting that broiler and fryer used to be two separate categories with different weights and ages and now the USDA has combined them creating the broiler-fryer.  Do you think it's a side effect of growing portion sizes?  



            • Total Posts: 485
            • Joined: 9/8/2006
            • Location: Dallas, TX
            Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 11:52 AM (permalink)
            the size chicken that you are looking for is called a fryer or broiler- they are usually sold under the Tyson, Pilgrims Pride, or Sanderson's Farm brands- these are all national brands, I think. They certainly are plentiful here in the DFW area- in fact, one of the "ethnic" market chains has had Tyson whole fryers on sale for as low as $0.55/per pound- not a bad deal at all!

              • Total Posts: 1286
              • Joined: 11/29/2005
              • Location: South FL
              Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 12:20 PM (permalink)
              Thank you Bill and welcome aboard Kathryn. Interesting article that highlights the classificational differencess nowadays. The issue that I'm trying to understand though is this age and weight range of 6-7 weeks/ 2 3/4 -3.0 lb represents the major bulk of the chicken farm industry's output. There is no shortage of this size and is the staple of the foodservice/fast food industry. In fact, this is the median sub-classification. There's a smaller 2- 2 3/4 and a larger topping out at 3.5 lbs if you look at institutional packed chicken. The lower two are the primary sizes for the fried chicken industry. None of the producers classify them with a USDA classification, only the weight range. Typically 12 chickens or equivelent to a case. Locally, one is hard pressed to find anything below 4.5-4.75 lbs anywhere.
              The question remains why they aren't commonly found in the retail channel.  If they are so plentiful, why are they reserved soley for the institutional market ?
              I might add that packaged whole birds within this median 4.75-5lb retail size are often labeled as Broiler-Fryers by Purdue,Sanderson,and the store packed whole birds with giblets.
              <message edited by DawnT on Wed, 04/7/10 12:28 PM>

                • Total Posts: 1350
                • Joined: 10/8/2004
                • Location: Jackson, MS
                Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 2:55 PM (permalink)
                That is a very real problem here, also. When I fry chicken, it is really hard to get it done all the way through without burning the outside. The breast halves look like turkeys!

                  • Total Posts: 88
                  • Joined: 3/15/2010
                  • Location: Columbia, MD. and Houston, TX.
                  Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 4:58 PM (permalink)
                  I guess that I am lucky to live in Columbia, Maryland, because most of my favorite local grocery stores (Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Giant Food) ALL carry chickens in the '2 3/4 - 3lb class.'
                  And if ANY one of the afore-mentioned stores fail to have my requested chicken, a quick request to the butcher/department manager will assure that the requested item will be available to me within two days.
                  So, to answer your question, 'Is this the same elsewhere?', I would have to answer, "NO." 

                    Big Ugly Mich

                    • Total Posts: 1302
                    • Joined: 1/12/2004
                    • Location: Trevor, WI
                    Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Wed, 04/7/10 5:38 PM (permalink)
                    Have you tried going to a farmer? I can't make any promises, because we actually have the OPPOSITE problem, but I never considered it because I either beercan or spit roast my chickens. Occasionally soup, but very occasionally.
                      Born in OKC

                      • Total Posts: 428
                      • Joined: 4/11/2005
                      • Location: atlanta, GA
                      Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Fri, 04/9/10 2:01 AM (permalink)
                      My local Kroger has at a minimum Perdue, Tyson, and a store brand of chicken in the meat department and all labels fit into three sizes.  There are Cornish Hens that weigh two pounds or less and "roaster" or "oven stuffers" that are seven pounds and up.  Both those type come whole only with the Cornish Hens generally being in a two pack.   The intermediate size runs four - five pounds plus whether whole or cut.  The butcher acts like everyone thinks the bigger the bird the better.
                      I'd say that mland520 is fortunate to get smaller Tyson birds in the Dallas area. 
                      SFAIK the only Pilgrim's Pride chickens received at my Krogers go to the deli for the rotisserie operation and they are smaller. 
                      It takes an excursion for me to visit a Kosher or Halal market as dexmat suggested but I will do that.  The only Filipino grocer I have heard of near me closed recently and I will miss them.  Friends of the owner would prepare filipino treats and offer them for sale on the weekends.  Never knew what you might find but sometimes delicious and real roadfood for me because it was fifty miles one way!

                        • Total Posts: 1286
                        • Joined: 11/29/2005
                        • Location: South FL
                        Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Fri, 04/9/10 2:52 AM (permalink)
                        I discovered that some of the Publix markets carry a "Murray" labeled brand of whole chickens that fit around a 3lb size. The price is around 2x the price of the "broiler" ~5 lb birds they sell under the Purdue or store brand. That's a bit high if you're looking for small chickens to use for fried chicken. I received an e-mail telling me that Sanderson Farms sells frozen whole chicken in pieces in this class, but nothing like that is carried by our local Winn Dixie chain which carries nothing frozen by Sanderson and only roaster sized birds in pieces and whole.

                          • Total Posts: 2162
                          • Joined: 8/1/2004
                          • Location: New York, NY
                          Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Fri, 04/9/10 5:53 AM (permalink)
                          Some of the independent and ethnic-focused markets in the NYC metro area sometimes sell a poly bag of several chickens, each weighing about 2.5 to 3 pounds. They are lesser grade chickens than Tyson, Purdue, etc.

                            • Total Posts: 360
                            • Joined: 1/24/2009
                            • Location: montco, pa
                            Re:Finding Small Broiler-Fryers Sun, 04/11/10 11:05 PM (permalink)
                            speak to the butcher!!!!  if they don't have what the customer wants (and you can't be the only person looking for that size) then, informing them of the problem should result in them getting in the size birds you want!!
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