Age to Butcher?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by KAKBucks, Jul 29, 2008.

  1. KAKBucks

    KAKBucks Songster

    Jun 8, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I have a variety of "dual purpose birds" and I'm wondering what age to butcher them.

    Black Australorp
    Jersey Giant
    Barred Rock
    Easter Egger
    Golden Buff
    Buff Australorp

    Any thoughts?

    Last edited: Jul 29, 2008
    1 person likes this.
  2. Fredster

    Fredster Songster

    Feb 21, 2007
    I butchered a 17-month-old easter egger a couple of weeks ago, and she was quite tasty. We brined her and roasted her; the breasts weren't tough at all, but chewier than grocery store chickens. We used the leg quarters in a chicken and rice casserole.

    All in all, she was the best chicken I think I've ever eaten.

    To get more to the point on your question, though, we've got a bunch of young chickens --- Buff O's, Barred Rocks, Black Giants --- that we're planning to start butchering when they're 16-20 weeks old.
    1 person likes this.
  3. dacjohns

    dacjohns People Cracker Upper

  4. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    Quote:Wow, I wonder how much putting the chicken in the brine helps to make it tender?

    Because 17 months is OLD! Of course the leg quarters in a casserole probably helped tender those up (if they were tough to start off with).

    I have been trying to read all the old threads about proper butcher age for a dual purpose (light Brahma).

    Some of the other people were voting for 14 weeks being the prime age, and at 15 weeks they start to get tough.
  5. pdpatch

    pdpatch Songster

    Apr 5, 2008
    Hastings, Nebraska
    We don't fry poultry here at all, so we wait until 16 to 17 weeks to begin processing heavy breed broilers. At that age you don't notice any difference with the age of the bird with the way we cook them.

    A good fryer is usually done at 12 to 14 weeks because you don't want a lot of fat on the birds for frying. But other cooking methods requires some fat to on the bird. We have cooked old roosters and still had them tender and juicy. But we did not fry them.

    At 12 to 14 weeks they are in the end of there juvenal period so they have less fat.
    which make them more desirable for frying. If you are looking for a good fryer with a lot of meat then a Cornish cross or other hybrid type would be more desirable to raise.

    If you are comparing them to what you buy in the grocery store for the amount of meat, I would not do that. Since most of those bird are a commercial variety of the Cornish, Cornish cross, or other hybrids which have a different growth rate then the ones you listed. Plus a commercial bird usually has a salt brine or other chemical injected into the meat to tenderize it.

    At 17 weeks our Red sex link broiler came in at 3 to 3 1/2 pounds processed. Most of those will be smoked which is a slow cooking process so we don't really didn't need to do them at 14 weeks. Because at 14 weeks they didn't have a lot of meat on them the extra 3 weeks on a finisher ration add a lot of weight to them
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2008
  6. ChickDandy

    ChickDandy In the Brooder

    May 5, 2008
    Colonial Heights, VA
    I'm keeping an eye on this one, too! I have dual purpose, heavy breeds that are 15 weeks old and still seem a bit scrawny for processing. I'm considering whether to go ahead with butchering at 16 weeks, as I had originally planned, or wait for a few more weeks.

    I did have to separate my roosters a couple of weeks ago to prevent injuries to both roos and hens. The boys get along pretty well in their gang, now, so I feel pretty confident I can hold off if I decide. (And, frankly, would like to wait for cooler weather.)

    For feeding: I have the hens on a 50/50 starter and oats combo, but the roos just on the starter to try to fatten them up. Any suggestions about other feeds or ways to put on quick weight?

    All the best!
  7. Red Tie

    Red Tie Songster

    May 30, 2008
    Metamora, MI
    Get the roo's on a higher protein broiler feed asap. It makes all the difference in the world.

    1 person likes this.
  8. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Songster

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    We butchered our Australorps at 15 weeks and I thought they were a bit small. Next time we'll probably wait until 18 or 20 weeks. If the meat is tough, we'll just brine it overnight.
    1 person likes this.
  9. bearfretworks

    bearfretworks In the Brooder

    May 5, 2008
    Western MN
    We just had 20 "dual purpose" birds processed at ~14 weeks. They were a mix of Barred Rocks, Partridge Rocks, Buff Rocks and Black Australorps with 17 cockerels and 3 pullets. They finished between 2 - 4 lbs, with the smaller ones being the pullets and the lone EE cockerel. They taste FANTASTIC!!! Tender, juicy, and remind me of chicken when I was a lad.......... Their growth rate was really slowing down at the end.

    We are looking hard at those Colored Rangers for next year.
  10. littlelemon

    littlelemon Songster

    Mar 15, 2007
    We just butchered a white rock and a barred rock yesterday at almost 14 weeks. Boy are they little and scrawny! I am hoping the taste makes up for the scrawniness. Our last white rock we butchered at about 20 weeks and he was big but also tough. We have a couple more to do and I am going to wait another week or two to see if they fatten up a bit.

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