After butchering

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by hippia16, Dec 2, 2010.

  1. hippia16

    hippia16 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 21, 2010
    I purchased 16 Cornish Rock X in September. At 8 weeks they were not quite the size I wanted so I gave them an extra week. I then butchered the largest 5 of them. We let them sit in a cooler overnight and roasted 2 and froze the others. The chicken was awesome and I have never tasted better chicken. I left the the others to grow a little more without the bullies. At 11 weeks we butchered 2 and grilled the chicken in pieces. Did not let them "age". Just killed, butchered, and grilled. It was terrible. Really chewy and tough. Are they too old now or do these birds not grill well or should I have let them age as whole birds. I let two of the breasts sit for a couple of days to cook later and they were also chewy. What is the deal here that these were so much worse than the first birds?
  2. bargain

    bargain Love God, Hubby & farm Premium Member

    Apr 13, 2008
    Bowdon, GA
    We age our birds for 3 days. what was your finishing feed? We haven't experienced what you have there. I'm thinking they got too large as well as not setting enough. Nancy
  3. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    It was because they didn't rest, not that they were too old. We have found that letting them rest 2-4 days is very key to tender, falling off the bone chicken.
  4. Salt and Light

    Salt and Light Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 20, 2008
    Osteen, FL
    LOT's of people recommend aging for several days. But, I've also read that unlike beef, chicken does NOT benefit from aging. So, for me, it's about personal preference/convenience. Ours sit in refrigerator over night and then into the freezer.
  5. KatyTheChickenLady

    KatyTheChickenLady Bird of A Different Feather

    Dec 20, 2008
    Boise, Idaho
    they were definately not too old, it was just a matter of aging.
    You will hear differnt reponses because everybodies favorite is just a little different (to some tough and chewy to others dense and meaty, to some fork tender to others mushy). I sound like you like yours better aged a bit, me too. I put mine in freezer right after butcher but then defrost and let sit in frig for two days - perfect for me:)
  6. secuono

    secuono Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
    I've got Q's about all this...
    What is finishing feed and why is it needed?
    What age is the best age to kill?
    What on earth do you do after you kill and remove feathers? Fresh into the fridge for the night and then the freezer? Why not straight to the freezer? How long in the freezer before I can defrost, cook and eat???
    Do you need to scald them before removing skin or feathers? I know it'll take forever to pluck feathers 'dry'. But, what about skinning?
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010
  7. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    I'll try... Apologies if I get anything wrong, as I'm new here. [​IMG]

    1. Finishing feed is basically any feed used to plump chickens up before slaughter. Chicks raised on medicated feed then switch to finisher so the medications have time to get out of their system before being turned into meat. Usually finisher is slightly lower in protein than starter, but higher protein than layer feed.

    2. Age to kill is very varied. Commercial hybrids get oversized for their legs unless feed is restricted, and this can happen at any time from 5 weeks of age, though more commonly 10 weeks. For this reason commercial meat birds are usually killed at 5-6 weeks. Dual purpose purebreds often take up to 24 weeks to really flesh up. Deliberate crosses e.g. cornish x Rhode Island Reds are usually good eating at around 16 weeks.

    But for all birds (unless you skin them) it's best to avoid killing during times when pin feathers (early feather buds) are growing, which occurs during moult. Chicks moult firstly between one and six days of age; then they have partial moults at 7-9 weeks, 12-16 weeks, and 20-22 weeks, depending on the maturation rate of each bird. The best time to kill is outside these moult times, when they can be fully plucked without too much extra work removing pin feathers. If you're skinning it doesn't matter when you do it. I do it just before the birds crow and start trying to tread hens, otherwise they very quickly become tough (16 weeks).

    3. Resting the bird is to remove rigor mortis (when the muscles all go rigid). Rigor mortis sets in within 20 minutes of death, so if processing takes longer than 20 minutes then the bird will be really tough. Resting the bird for at least 24 hours in the fridge (and up to 48 hours is best) will remove rigor mortis and make for the most tender carcass.

    4. You don't have to scald/pluck; I always dry pluck (if not skinning, which is far, far easier), as there's no horrible wet chicken smell, and no danger of cooking the skin if you dry pluck. But there are 4 factors related to ease of plucking.

    One: relaxation at death. A frightened tense bird will have tense muscles.

    Two: method of dispatch. Head chopping always sets feathers hard; pithing (debraining) softens feathers if done correctly.

    Three: if rigor mortis sets in before plucking finishes, feathers will be set tighter as well. For that reason you need to start dry plucking *immediately*.

    Four: age. Older birds have harder-set feathers and also tougher skin (when it comes to skinning). The only reason not to skin is if you want to roast. I prefer poached chicken anyway, and I find fried chicken with the skin on a little too fatty for my taste. (Not that I've got anything against fat.) [​IMG]

    Hope this helps! [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  8. secuono

    secuono Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2010
  9. al6517

    al6517 Real Men can Cook

    May 13, 2008
    Most people do what is refered to as aging the bird either before freezing or after the thaw. Some folks me included also try a method called Brining, basically soaking the bird in a salt water solution to anywhere from several hours to several day's depending on your personal preferances. the idea is that the mixture of salt water passes through the muscle tissue creating a more moist and tender bird, there are many different ways folks age or brine their poultry and you can find them here on the BYC.

  10. Erica

    Erica Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2010
    Hi al6517,
    do you mind if I ask a little about brining?
    Would it tend to preserve the meat for a lot longer than refrigeration, or is that not a useful reason to do it?
    Just curious -- and always interested in food preservation!

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