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Barred Rocks...best age to process??

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by SaltLife4Life, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. SaltLife4Life

    SaltLife4Life In the Brooder

    Aug 15, 2012
    Hello fellow chicken lovers!!

    I've recently gotten myself some Barred Rocks for eggs and meat and I am excited to be raising my own animals for meat as well as eggs!! What is the best age to process these birds to get optimum weight and meat quality?

    Thanks!! :)

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Optimum weight and meat quality are pretty subjective terms. They probably mean different things to me that to you.

    I process both pullets and cockerels, but I do the cockerels first and usually let the pullets lay a while so I can evaluate them to see which I might want to keep. Besides, I like to only process a few at a time and keep the others fresh on the claw for a while.

    My cockerels grow pretty well until maybe 20 to 22 weeks, then they really slow down putting on weight. They’ll keep growing some after that but it really slows down. So that is your target for optimum growth. I personally do not process a cockerel until it is at least 16 weeks old. Some people process them at 12 weeks but there is just not much meat there.

    How you feed them makes a difference too. I don’t feed a high percent protein feed to get them to grow really fast. Mine get Grower and forage for some of their food.

    Meat quality is all over the board. You can cook any chicken if you use the right method. Age has more to do with method than anything else but your personal preferences come into play a lot too. The older a chicken is, the longer, slower, and moister your cooking method needs to be.

    Some people will fry or grill a 12 week old cockerel and think it is really tough to the point of being inedible. Others like how a 15 week old fries up. Pure personal preference. Your chickens are not going to be as tender as the ones you buy at the store. They are going to be several weeks older when you process them so the meat will have more flavor and have more texture. If you find the right cooking method appropriate to the age of the chicken and your tastes, even a rooster several years old can be quite tender, but it will have some texture.

    Like I said, this is fairly subjective. You’ll get different answers from different people because we have different criteria.

    Good luck! Hope you get something that helps out of this.
  3. delisha

    delisha Crowing

    Oct 13, 2012
    Racine, WI -
    My Coop
    20-24 weeks is pretty good for full size. The key is soaking in cold cold salt water after butcher for 24 hours. The salt and water is absorbed into the muscles as it goes through the aging process to meat. It makes it moister and plumper to cook.

    5 gallons of water for 1 cup of salt.

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