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Best age for meat?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

I have a couple dual purpose hens that are a little over a year old. Is now the best time to kill them? What age is chicken meat the best? I heard that for old chickens their meat isn't really good for anything but soup. Should I wait and get a few more eggs out of them or act now?

Me: Which came first: the chicken or the egg?
Peter (he's nine): The chicken, of course! they are yummier than eggs!
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Me: Which came first: the chicken or the egg?
Peter (he's nine): The chicken, of course! they are yummier than eggs!
Reply
post #2 of 4

Chickens rock!mysocks :

I have a couple dual purpose hens that are a little over a year old. Is now the best time to kill them? What age is chicken meat the best? I heard that for old chickens their meat isn't really good for anything but soup. Should I wait and get a few more eggs out of them or act now?


Usually they recommend that you do dual purpose birds any time between 3 months and a year. Because they are older you would rest them longer in the fridge before freezing them. I am doing my birds at around 20 weeks and they seem just about right size wise to become dinner.

 Light Brahma, Black Australorp, Cochin, Gold Comet, Delaware, Silver Gray Dorking. Arabian, Doberman, Farm Cat, Teenage boy, and loving husband who puts up with it all.

 

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 Light Brahma, Black Australorp, Cochin, Gold Comet, Delaware, Silver Gray Dorking. Arabian, Doberman, Farm Cat, Teenage boy, and loving husband who puts up with it all.

 

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post #3 of 4

If they're still laying well, no need to send them to the stewpot yet, especially considering how long you'll take to get replacements in the coop up to speed on production.

Here's a good article on cooking heritage birds.  One of the points made is that for older birds, cooking longer at lower temperature is better to keep the meat tender.

With commercial poultry we're used to cooking everything for an hour at 350, this recommends 300 - 325 and a half hour per lb.

http://www.albc-usa.org/documents/cookingwheritagechicken.pdf

  -DB

Here's what it says about older birds, also known back in the older days as "Fowl."


Hens and roosters butchered at older than one year, classified as fowl, make very fine eating also. This  class was perhaps the most commonly eaten and least seasonal type until the mid-20th century. But today  mature fowl is rarely available, unless you keep your own flock or know a farmer who does. It is essential to  use moisture and low temperatures in cooking hens and roosters over 1 year old. 

It will take hours longer to cook fowl, but the meat is richly flavored and was esteemed for sandwiches,  chicken salad, pot pie and all recipes calling for cooked chicken meat. Fowl will become just as tender as  younger chickens as long as it is kept moist and the meat temperature is kept low, preferably below 180 F. If the  meat temperature goes above 180 F, the protein fibers toughen so that even if it is cooked long enough to fall  apart, the individual fibers remain tough. When stewing, the water should not be allowed to boil, but should be kept at a simmer temperature, 180 F or less. Fowl can also be steam-baked with 1 or 2 cups water added to the  pan; the pan should be tightly covered so the moisture won't escape, with the oven temperature at 300-325 F.   Whether stewed or steam-baked, the breast meat of fowl will be best (especially good for sandwiches) if it is removed as soon as it is done, which may be a couple of hours before the dark meat is done. I allow at least 3 hours to cook a 3 1/2 to 4 lb hen.


Edited by DenverBird - 9/6/11 at 12:56pm

Suburban backyard flock with 1 Barred Rock, 1 Gold Star, 1 SLW, and 1 GLW, 2 EEs.   And a freezer full of Red Rangers from McMurray as well.

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Suburban backyard flock with 1 Barred Rock, 1 Gold Star, 1 SLW, and 1 GLW, 2 EEs.   And a freezer full of Red Rangers from McMurray as well.

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post #4 of 4

I am going to cull my egg laying hens when they stop laying. I was told I would know when they are stopping because their combs and wattles would get pale and their legs would start looking less colorful. I am also going to hatch out eggs with dual purpose birds in them for hatching as meat birds each year. From what I have been told the different ages just mean that you cook them a little differently but you can process birds at any age. It just depends on what you are looking for.

 Light Brahma, Black Australorp, Cochin, Gold Comet, Delaware, Silver Gray Dorking. Arabian, Doberman, Farm Cat, Teenage boy, and loving husband who puts up with it all.

 

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 Light Brahma, Black Australorp, Cochin, Gold Comet, Delaware, Silver Gray Dorking. Arabian, Doberman, Farm Cat, Teenage boy, and loving husband who puts up with it all.

 

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