Alternative ways to fatten up roosters for slaughter

Drewberry Jungle Fowl Boy

In the Brooder
Nov 19, 2019
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My opinion on the portion of your post above is: Does it really matter? If they are only being fed that for about a month and then butchered, it's not like they are going to get any sort of long term illness from incorrect nutrition that will impact their lives. No, I don't think I would feed a prized breeding rooster or laying hens that way, but for something that you will be eating pretty soon, I don't think it will matter if the nutrition isn't exactly right.
Thank you Kusanar that reinforces my internal thoughts. They get a solid start and have balance thru the season and then just feed them hibernation food for a month. If they gotta go I'd think that would be at least pleasant for them feeding them all their favorite foods
 

aart

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? I find I have to seperate them at about 6 to 8 months old for sure or they'll be too heavy handed on the hens. I usually butcher at 5 or 6 months old.
Ummm....how do you separate at 6-8 months when you butcher at 5-6 months<scratcheshead>

There is one way to find out, at least with a few.
My thoughts exactly.

If carbs can create fat...like feeding corn?.....maybe grow some sunchokes, they are eternally perennial and the chooks like the the leaves in summer and the tubers in fall.

Why do you want them to be fattier?
 

Drewberry Jungle Fowl Boy

In the Brooder
Nov 19, 2019
14
44
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Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Ummm....how do you separate at 6-8 months when you butcher at 5-6 months<scratcheshead>

My thoughts exactly.

If carbs can create fat...like feeding corn?.....maybe grow some sunchokes, they are eternally perennial and the chooks like the the leaves in summer and the tubers in fall.

Why do you want them to be fattier?
Sorry maybe I should have worded that differently. What I was trying to say is that my excess roosters don't make it into the winter coop. Normally I butcher them right before I move the hens and a few chosen roosters to the winter dwelling. I was just saying that I could fatten them up in the winter coop well before they get violent. I was all backwards in the way I said it. Sometimes I think things in my head and do not type them out but think I do LOL A tad ocd and juggling about 50 thoughts at a time all day lol

I've found they ignore my large patch of Jeru artichokes. They love my sugar beets, carrots, squash, nuts berries and apples though. I find annual root crops aren't so bad compared to processing grain. They are very hydrating to feed them too because it's structured water. Not sure what it is about the artichokes but they avoid them even when they are hungry. I ferment them into a very nice kind of crunchy sour dill type sourness. Like a dill pickle waterchestnut. It's nice. The chickens grumble when I give them some though lol

I want to fatten them up because it keeps the meat moist when cooking and also the fat of the land is the most important commodity throughout history. THe most valuable macro of all time. Delicious and has all the fat soluble nutrients that modern man is missing. Fat and cholesterol are what makes all of our endocrine system chemicals that run every system of our body. Don't be afraid of the fat! LOL
 

aart

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Drewberry Jungle Fowl Boy

In the Brooder
Nov 19, 2019
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Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Pull them out of the ground and they'll eat them.

Not afraid here...just wondered if you were looking for schmaltz.
I pressure cook, so no moisture loss.
Or you could go @Ridgerunner's route and slow roast in oven in tight lidded pot.
I toss the chokes to them all the time and the ignore them. I've tried for many years.

But yeah I'm a schmaltz kind of guy. I like to render the fat for different dishes and also I like to make a sort of head cheese-esque type chicken loaf with all the goodies from the funny bits lol. Collagen from the heads feet and gizzard is awesome. You could make some dang ol' ballistic gel out of the broth lol Here's a batch of them just before the snow hit.
 

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Drewberry Jungle Fowl Boy

In the Brooder
Nov 19, 2019
14
44
44
Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Won't help you this year but next year maybe start with a breed more genetically disposed to store fat like dorkings or faverolles.
Even the males pad out a decent amount.
That's probably good advice however I've settled on preserving this breed so I'm done with other breeds at this point. Just seeing if I can enhance the culinary quality of the roosters I have to cull anyway. My mind may change in the future but I'm leaning towards land races in all livestock if possible. That or creating my own land race over time. If this rooster fattening experiment does not work I may end up just growing geese exclusively as my fatty meat birds since they used to be the go to for efficient production of homestead all purpose fat.
 

Cryss

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Nov 12, 2017
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If fat is your goal, you might consider butchering your pullets as well as cockerels. You won't get as much meat, the meat won't have the flavor the cockerels do after their hormones kick in, and the meat will be more tender but you will get fat.
This brings up a point us newbies know nothing about.
Is there a difference in the flavor between male and female meat? If so is there a difference between pullet and cockerel meat? Hen and rooster? Hen and pullet? Rooster and cockerel? Laying and non laying pullets? Crowing and non crowing cockerels?
I don't eat my chickens. At least not yet. One day I may decide I need to take that step. Meanwhile I want to learn all I can.
 

Ridgerunner

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Is there a difference in the flavor between male and female meat?
Interesting question. I'll give my opinion. I butcher cockerels, pullets, hens, and roosters so my opinion is based on what I've experienced. It would be interesting to hear about others' experiences.

Yes, both flavor and texture. The older they get the more texture all chickens develop. That's why the age of a chicken dictates how you can cook them. When we talk about age and cooking chickens we are pretty much talking about males or spent hens. Most people are not going to eat pullets.

When the hormones hit cockerels at puberty the texture of the meat changes. It gets more stringy. Also, they develop more connective tissue holding the inside of the skin to the carcass. A cockerel like a Cornish X butchered before puberty is extremely easy to skin. A five month old dual purpose cockerel is a bit more of a challenge. An old rooter is really hard to skin, you need a sharp knife to cut that connective tissue if you skin. So the older the male gets the more texture of the meat changes and the more connective tissue you have. They also have connective tissue, tendons and ligaments, that hold bones together or meat to bones. Those get stronger as they age also.

Females go through the same process but the hormones don't hit them all that hard as they age. An old hen will have more connective tissue than a pullet but they are still relatively easy to skin. The meat does develop texture as they age but that process is a lot slower than the males. At some point they may not have as much texture as a male the same age but it will be enough they need to be cooked like an old chicken.

When the hormones hit, cockerels develop more flavor. People call it a gamey taste. Again the older they get the more flavor they develop. It doesn't take that long for the difference to be noticeable in cockerels. I'm not going to give ages because some cockerels seem to start puberty by 12 weeks, some might wait until 5 or 6 months to start puberty. An old rooster will have a much stronger flavor than a cockerel that has recently developed to where he can breed, but that cockerel will have plenty of flavor.

Again, the females go through the same process but it's more gradual than the males. I don't think they ever get as strong-flavored as the older males but they do get stronger-flavored. Some people like that flavor, some don't. You can somewhat mask that flavor by how you cook it, different herbs and spices or serving it with other things like in soup or chicken and dumplings versus cooking it in a crock pot or pressure cooker and serving a chunk of meat. But it will still be stronger.

Another big difference between males and females is that females develop a lot of fat. Most of that is usually in the pelvic area in what is called a fat pad, but there is fat scattered throughout the rest of the body. If you want schmaltz you need to be butchering females, not males. My males are typically really lean. Some develop a little fat but it's nothing compared to a female.

I have not paid any attention to whether a male is crowing or not. Some male chicks can start trying to crow while in the brooder. Others might wait until they are several months old, if ever.

The only difference I've noticed with laying and non-laying pullets of the same age is that the ones laying will have yolks developing to make eggs. They will be various sizes, some big enough to make an egg, others growing. My dogs love those but you could eat them too if you wish. The pullets not laying have a mass of tiny ova but they are are really small.
 

Drewberry Jungle Fowl Boy

In the Brooder
Nov 19, 2019
14
44
44
Upper Peninsula of Michigan
Interesting question. I'll give my opinion. I butcher cockerels, pullets, hens, and roosters so my opinion is based on what I've experienced. It would be interesting to hear about others' experiences.

Yes, both flavor and texture. The older they get the more texture all chickens develop. That's why the age of a chicken dictates how you can cook them. When we talk about age and cooking chickens we are pretty much talking about males or spent hens. Most people are not going to eat pullets.

When the hormones hit cockerels at puberty the texture of the meat changes. It gets more stringy. Also, they develop more connective tissue holding the inside of the skin to the carcass. A cockerel like a Cornish X butchered before puberty is extremely easy to skin. A five month old dual purpose cockerel is a bit more of a challenge. An old rooter is really hard to skin, you need a sharp knife to cut that connective tissue if you skin. So the older the male gets the more texture of the meat changes and the more connective tissue you have. They also have connective tissue, tendons and ligaments, that hold bones together or meat to bones. Those get stronger as they age also.

Females go through the same process but the hormones don't hit them all that hard as they age. An old hen will have more connective tissue than a pullet but they are still relatively easy to skin. The meat does develop texture as they age but that process is a lot slower than the males. At some point they may not have as much texture as a male the same age but it will be enough they need to be cooked like an old chicken.

When the hormones hit, cockerels develop more flavor. People call it a gamey taste. Again the older they get the more flavor they develop. It doesn't take that long for the difference to be noticeable in cockerels. I'm not going to give ages because some cockerels seem to start puberty by 12 weeks, some might wait until 5 or 6 months to start puberty. An old rooster will have a much stronger flavor than a cockerel that has recently developed to where he can breed, but that cockerel will have plenty of flavor.

Again, the females go through the same process but it's more gradual than the males. I don't think they ever get as strong-flavored as the older males but they do get stronger-flavored. Some people like that flavor, some don't. You can somewhat mask that flavor by how you cook it, different herbs and spices or serving it with other things like in soup or chicken and dumplings versus cooking it in a crock pot or pressure cooker and serving a chunk of meat. But it will still be stronger.

Another big difference between males and females is that females develop a lot of fat. Most of that is usually in the pelvic area in what is called a fat pad, but there is fat scattered throughout the rest of the body. If you want schmaltz you need to be butchering females, not males. My males are typically really lean. Some develop a little fat but it's nothing compared to a female.

I have not paid any attention to whether a male is crowing or not. Some male chicks can start trying to crow while in the brooder. Others might wait until they are several months old, if ever.

The only difference I've noticed with laying and non-laying pullets of the same age is that the ones laying will have yolks developing to make eggs. They will be various sizes, some big enough to make an egg, others growing. My dogs love those but you could eat them too if you wish. The pullets not laying have a mass of tiny ova but they are are really small.

All really good info Ridgerunner. I like your thorough explanations.

The Icelandics mature at a moderate pace and don't seem to get stringy until about 8 to 12 months old. Free ranging them I'd describe them as getting more and more turkeyish in taste. Maybe a bit gamey but a good sorta gamey IMO. If a bird smells really strong and seems like it's going to be a tough one I pretty much just have one real simple go to. Braise covered at 250F with crushed garlic, salt pepper, diced tomatoes cumin, fresh oregano and a couple pats of butter smeared inside and out. 2 to 4 hours debone it all and shred the meat and then put the meat back into the juices. Slap that in some homemade corn tortillas with abit of sour cream and cilantro sprinkled over it. BAM! Homestead peasant gourmet right there man! lol No gameyness. Nice rich flavor. Way better than any street taco I've ever had.

Anyway in my context I'm just trying to get rid of my roosters because I have to. I don't eat poultry meat much. Just like them for eggs and deep litter for fertilizer but I do enjoy chicken meat once a week or a few times a month. It sounds like I might not be able to accomplish my goal very easily without caponing them. They'll develop that female fat if you do that. Problem is I like to see what roosters the hens take a liking to first for breeding reasons so caponing them after hatch would be counter to what I'm doing as well.

Do you by chance have any experience with caponing roosters?
 
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