Advice appreciated - excess of males


6 Years
May 10, 2015
Hi All,

I have got two sets of chicks at the moment - 6 who are 7 1/2 weeks old, and 3 who are 6 1/2 weeks old. Two sets because we put some in the incubator, and then a hen went seriously broody for the first time for us!
Anyway, I think that 2 of the six are females, and 1 of the three. None of the males has started crowing, but they have combs and wattles, whereas the supposed girls have smaller combs and no wattles visible yet. They are a mix of breeds - Rhode Rock, Blacktail, Welsummer cross, so none of them particularly meat birds. I already have a Welsummer cockerel (hence the 'cross' aspect).

How long would you keep the males? - is it worth keeping them for meat potentially, and if so how long? Does the meat get too tough on the bird over time? - they are freeranging.

Any words of wisdom for the situation appreciated!
I slaughter cockerels at 13-16 weeks, before they start causing too much chaos and while still tender enough to grill for that crispy skinned deliciousness. Not much meat but the grilled bones make for some excellent stock. Anything older than that I pressure cook until meat is done and is saved aside then a couple more hours to get that bone broth.

Resting the cleaned carcass in fridge for 48-72 hours for rigor to pass is essential for chewable meat from any bird(except maybe CX?). Tho no homegrown bird I've eaten, layer or meat breed, is as soft as a grocery bird, they are more 'toothsome'.
I raise all my extra cockerels for meat, processing them between 16 and 20 weeks. Dressed weight is usually between 3 1/2 and 5 lbs.
Like aart said above, non meat birds are not going to be as tender as the CXs you're used to getting from the grocery store, but they are a lot more flavorful.
How you cook the bird also makes a huge difference. You probably don't want to fry a chicken over 16 weeks, for example, but even old birds make great stock or stew.
Three pullets out of nine chicks. I've had hatches like that. I've also had hatches where it was more pullets than cockerels. Over time it averages out to be close to 50%, but that may take several hatches. If I count back to may last 80 chicks I hatched it's usually pretty close to 50%.

You will find that we all do it differently. I like to keep my cockerels until they are 23 weeks old. The way I keep them and cook them that works best for me. I still haven't been able to talk Aart into cooking an older cockerel the way I do. :p

The posters above have hit some of the high points. The older the cockerel the more flavor and texture it has. Once it hits puberty the hormones speed that process up, the flavor and texture increases much faster with the cockerels once the hormones hit than with the females. The texture is why you need to change your cooking methods as they age. Some of us like that flavor more than others. The older the chicken, the better the broth in my opinion. The broth made from younger chickens is still really good.

Some people like to butcher as young as 12 weeks, trying to get ahead of the hormones. That's both for flavor/texture and for behaviors. At some point the cockerels will start acting out, fighting for dominance and trying to mate the pullets. That can be hard to watch for a lot of people. I raise my pullets and cockerels together, some isolate the boys in a bachelor's pad until butcher day.

If you are buying most of their food you might want to butcher earlier. As yours free range you cost to keep them may not be that much.

Don't expect to get as much meat off of these as you would a Cornish X. You can eat bantams if you want but there sure wont be much meat. There's not much meat in a quail either but people eat them. Yours should be decent for dual purpose meat birds.
Not being much of a meat eater and having a minimal interest in cooking I just stuck them in the oven the day they were killed.:oops: There was no particular age at which they were killed and as you can imagine, I ate some seriously chewy dinners.:lol:
Now I know a bit more about the pre cooking storage and cooking methods the last one, despite being close to a year old tasted considerably better due to my improved culinary knowledge.:p
As mentioned above, the taste alters with age and of course cooking method.

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