I was wondering where I can find a line of chickens that will remain tender well past their prime. Most hatchery birds are bread for egg production even though they are labeled as "duel purpose". I'm looking for a true meat bird that has weight and will remain tender as it ages because the older they are the more flavorful they are.
Chicken line with "tenderness genes"
there are really no chickens that will remain tender as they age. the longer a chicken lives, the larger and heavier it will get, which means it will have to get stronger to support its own weight, which in turn makes the meat tougher, and the longer a chicken lives, the more it moves over the course of its life, which makes the meat tougher. pretty much any chicken over about 9 months old is going to be some degree of tough.
with a meat bird, you're going to end up with a bigger meal than you will with almost any dual purpose chicken. so the trade off is sort of tenderness/size in exchange for flavor.
you have a few options: you can try to confine the meat birds that you get to limit their activity level which might buy you a few more weeks. keep in mind it may also might result in the loss of birds due to fighting in close quarters. plus, disease would need to be considered. i can honestly say that i know nothing about that particular approach personally.
or you can learn to work with an older chicken. there are some ways to manipulate the chicken once its been processed. for starters, you can hang it in a meat fridge for a week or two. hanging it is going to stretch all those muscle fibers out nice and long. you can also brine the chicken once the hanging is done. both of those things will help. and you can use recipes that cook slow and low temp. i dont know that you'll get quite the same tenderness, but you can get closer, and you'll certainly get a lot of flavor from it.
Edited by thebulg - 5/24/16 at 5:03pm
A couple weeks ago I would have agreed with you but since then I've been talking with friends who claims they have birds who remained tender as a spring chicken after a year of free ranging. I would ask them to send me some hatching eggs but I doubt it will make it across the pacific ocean. I'm still doing research and there are research papers published on the genetics of meat quality. It's not from any specific breed but a line of breeds. I'm just fishing for more information with hopes of introducing that into my flock. I've also heard of a group on here who are selectively breeding Delaware's back to their heritage meat bird title with the quality that they were meant for.
i suppose it's possible. and i do suppose we could find out if some birds are more inclined to be tender at older ages if we bred selectively for that trait instead of selectively breeding for egg production or size. and perhaps that very thing will begin to happen with this shift to backyard poultry raising and a sort of homesteading mentality, but with the gift of science on our side. i imagine the idea that a chicken could lay 300 eggs a year probably started a lot like this concept you're talking about, and i'm sure people thought it was ludicrous. and yet here we are! so maybe you are standing at the start of a new journey in chicken breeding!