Advice Needed: Roosters and the Flock

Chelliance

Chirping
Jul 22, 2019
18
77
69
North Mississippi
What age to remove rooster from coop?

We started our flock at Easter. We now have 11 egg laying hens (Easter Eggers). We hatched out some eggs from a friend and ended up with 2 cream legbar pullets and 4 legbar cockerels as well as 3 olive Eggers cockerels and 1 olive Eggers we think might be a pullet but are unsure. They are all integrated now with no fights. They have a coop that is 8x12 with nesting boxes. They free range on our land, unfenced, from 8am to dusk when the put themselves up. There are plenty of trees around for the roos to roost in at night until we decide who is bound for freezer camp.

Thoughts on when to stop cooping the roos at night?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,860
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Southeast Louisiana
Why do you want to stop cooping them at night? Are you seeing any issues? Why solve a problem when you don't have one?

I generally let my cockerels run and roost with the main flock until butcher time, most years that's 20 or more cockerels. Once every three or four years I keep some cockerels in my grow-out pen until butcher time, usually not all of them and only when they are creating issues. My target butcher age is 23 weeks but sometimes I'll start thinning the numbers down at 16 weeks.

I try to decide how I manage my chickens more by what I see than some formula for age, area, or ratio.

If you are having certain issues or are concerned about something happening in the future we can certainly talk about that but I don't even know where to begin.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
8 Years
Nov 27, 2012
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Is the meat tender at that age? I know at some ages their meat can be quite tough and rubbery.
More tender than older birds....tender enough to grill them, IMO.
Any bird can be made more tender by resting the cleaned carcass for 3-4-5 days.
Older they are longer to rest them.
How they're cooked can make a huge difference too...but I'm not much of a cook.
 

FortCluck

Hatch-a-Long Queen
Sep 9, 2019
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Central Virginia
More tender than older birds....tender enough to grill them, IMO.
Any bird can be made more tender by resting the cleaned carcass for 3-4-5 days.
Older they are longer to rest them.
How they're cooked can make a huge difference too...but I'm not much of a cook.
Okay thank you for your advice. I'm thinking about doing meat chickens next year and we are just incubating eggs that we are hatching from our flock. The roosters are Jersey Giant and the hens are Delaware, Barred rock, and Red Sex Link. We plan on keeping some of the pullets and selling what we can then the rest are for meat.

We usually cook our chicken in the air fryer, the grill, and the pressure cooker. Depends on what mood I'm in when I cook.
 

GaryDean26

Chicken Czar
9 Years
Dec 22, 2011
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McAlester, OK
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Is the meat tender at that age? I know at some ages their meat can be quite tough and rubbery.

When I started processing our own meat everything was tough and rubbery. It really didn't matter what age it was. We eventually learned what we were doing wrong. Now it is very rare to get any tough or rubbery chicken served. We even ate a 3-1/2 year old cock. Those were the best chicken enchiladas I have had in my life. The meat was soft and tasty. The way you finish the birds, the way you kill them, the way you process them, and the way you cook them all play into whether they come out soft or rubbery. I have 15 cockerels I will be processing this Saturday. They are 5-9 months old. I have done Poussin at 4-6 weeks old. The age depends more on how much coop space we have than the age of the bird. The recipe, however, depends on the age of the bird.
 

FortCluck

Hatch-a-Long Queen
Sep 9, 2019
21,411
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Central Virginia
When I started processing our own meat everything was tough and rubbery. It really didn't matter what age it was. We eventually learned what we were doing wrong. Now it is very rare to get any tough or rubbery chicken served. We even ate a 3-1/2 year old cock. Those were the best chicken enchiladas I have had in my life. The meat was soft and tasty. The way you finish the birds, the way you kill them, the way you process them, and the way you cook them all play into whether they come out soft or rubbery. I have 15 cockerels I will be processing this Saturday. They are 5-9 months old. I have done Poussin at 4-6 weeks old. The age depends more on how much coop space we have than the age of the bird. The recipe, however, depends on the age of the bird.
So say I have a Delaware / Jersey Giant mix... What age do you suggest would be best to process them?

I have heard that slitting the neck in a cone in allowing them to bleed out helps a lot with the meat... I don't know if this is true because I'm new to processing chickens and won't be starting until the springtime.

I've also heard that allowing them to rest in a refrigerator from 2 to 4 days will help the meat be tender as well...

any advice you can give me would be great, you can message me if it's easier for you. Thank you
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,860
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Southeast Louisiana
So say I have a Delaware / Jersey Giant mix... What age do you suggest would be best to process them?

How do you want to cook it? The younger you butcher it the less meat you will have but the more options you have on how to cook it.

I have heard that slitting the neck in a cone in allowing them to bleed out helps a lot with the meat... I don't know if this is true because I'm new to processing chickens and won't be starting until the springtime.

Bleeding them out helps the meat quality. There are different ways to bleed them out. Some people use the cone method, I use a hatchet and stump. There are others.

I've also heard that allowing them to rest in a refrigerator from 2 to 4 days will help the meat be tender as well...

After an animal dies rigor mortis sets up. If yo cook it before rigor mortis sets up you will be OK. If you age it until after rigor mortis passes you'll be OK. If you cook it before rigor mortis passes you will not be OK.

There are three things that people often get confused about this. Aging and brining are typically done to young birds, marinading is often really helpful on older birds but can add flavor to young birds if it is not overdone.

Aging is where you keep the bird cool until rigor mortis passes. There are different ways to do that, but aging is just to get past rigor mortis.

Brining is where you soak the bird in a liquid solution with salt while it ages or for a portion of the time that it is aging. You can use other additional ingredients but the standard is salt, preferably kosher or canning salt. The salt adds some flavor but the big thing is that it causes the bird to absorb water. The meat is moister than it would be otherwise. This moisture is especially good if you or grilling or frying. The more salt in the brine the less time it needs to brine.

Marinading is where you soak the meat in an acid solution, usually vinegar or wine but beer works. people have a lot of different recipes for a marinade. The acid dissolves some of the connective tissue in the meat and makes it a lot less chewy. This works best for older birds. The longer it soaks the more it affects the texture. Keep it in the marinade too long and it can get mushy, especially young birds.
 

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