Whole chicken sizes

I’ve seen countless online indications that roasting a whole chicken calls for a bird of 3-3.5lbs (circa 1.5kg). Problem is: in my USA environment, it is impossible to find a bird much less than 5lbs. (2.7kg). Where you are, is there any such thing as a 3lb bird?

I’ve noted that chickens here in the USA midwest are labelled as “fryers” or “roasters,” but in fact, both of them weigh in about the same 5lbs. Something odd is going on, I think.

Assuming things are similar there to here in the UK, it may be worth you looking out for free range or organic chickens. I find they are usually smaller than factory farmed ones and , of course, taste much better (and the ethics give you a smug feeling, which is nice)


The standard size normal chicken including the free range and the organic organic in France is around 1.2-1.5 kg for a family of 4, starting from 1.8 - 2.5 are considered bigger chicken, for bigger family or meals with friends. But if you are talking about chicken like Bresse or other special ones, they are usually bigger, so they may start from 2kg onwards.

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The chickens I have get in market here are Miller Amish brand (no antibiotics or GMO, but not strictly organic). I do observe that across various labels, there aren’t really smaller birds.

Maybe I’ll try out a farmer’s market. Never want to miss out on a smug feeling when possible :).

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It is due to business. The cost of raising chickens is in the chick and processing and retail packaging. The profit is putting on weight. Smaller chickens maybe sold as parts, and to restaurants and delis.

Costco maybe the largest purchaser of ~3# chickens.

I am in Silicon Valley, a local grocery with a butcher shop, will reserve a 3# chicken for me, otherwise, the smaller chickens go to the deli or are parted out.


I can find 4lb chickens pretty easily, but it’s iffy for less. If you go for free range or pasture raised chickens, you definitely can find smaller chickens.

A local supermarket had been trying to offer a few organic, “air chilled” chickens (like Belle & Evans, but cheaper and not quite WF standards), and I am pleasantly surprised to find chickens slightly under 4lbs on occasion. I do find that 3-4lb is just about the perfect size for 1 to 2 people.



Smug feelings are the best! Seriously.

I get the 3 1/ 2 to 4 pound . Oven roasted .Crispy skin with moist meat . See yesterday’s WFD.

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Frankenchickens have been here for awhile. (I can purchase a package of 4 b/s chicken breasts, and the entire package is often close to 4 lbs!) I agree with @Harters and others. Go for the organic/free range birdies. Whole Foods carries them and they’re much smaller - albeit you can still find them at 4.5 lbs. or slightly larger.

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Bell and Evans is usually the only brand I buy anymore after having some very bad Perdue experiences.

B and E regularly comes in 3-5 pounds in my store. I try to buy smaller ones like 3-4 pounds.

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You mean they weren’t always that big? A brief search said that US forbid hormone grown chicken.

I think that, with factory produced chicken, it’s not so much what they eat, etc, but that they have been bred to have particularly large breasts - breasts much larger than would be natural for a bird of that normal size.

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No, when I was growing up, chickens were much smaller. They’ve been bred over the years to be be much larger with (supposedly) stronger legs to hold the larger breasts. They’re now 50-75% larger than in the 1950s.

This is from the National Chicken Council site, which isn’t going to give you any information that is detrimental to themselves, but this pic can give you an idea of the difference in the last 60-70 years.


56 days! Wow!

Here the chicken with red label or organic, lives at least 81 up to 110 days, free range, fed with cereal without GMO, antibiotics is forbidden.


Where is “here” for you, naf?

It is striking, the chicken sizes/ages.

France. Normal bleed chicken size at 81 days would be 1.2kg (2.6 lbs) - 1.5kg (3.3 lbs)

Very similar for organic in the UK - minmum 81 day life, no routine antibiotics, free range, etc.

I don’t think there is an actual common standard for organic across the European Union

I don’t even remember what this is about, but I will see yesterday’s wfd. Lately, smug is that look on that lady with the dragons on GOT. Actually that was gloating.

Asian markets have smaller chickens. They sell chickens that appeal to a set of customers that look more for flavors than large quantity of meat.