Best age to do away with the roo for meat?

wilkinsfarm2020

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Feb 5, 2020
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Our babies are looking at 3 roos atm and we will most likely have to eat two.

They're babies now at 2 weeks old.

They're australorp buff orpington cross and possibly barred rock.

The owner wasn't sure which babies were which so if we have 3 like I said we can only keep one of them.

Is there a good age per breed to eat them?
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
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2 weeks might be a bit soon to tell gender, but.....
I slaughter cockerels at 13-16 weeks, before they start causing chaos and while still tender enough to grill for that crispy skinned deliciousness. Not much meat but the grilled bones make for some excellent stock. Anything older than that I pressure cook until meat is done and is saved aside then a couple more hours to get that bone broth.

Resting the cleaned carcass in fridge for 48-72 hours for rigor to pass is essential for chewable meat from any bird(except maybe CX?). Tho no homegrown bird I've eaten, layer or meat breed, is as soft as a grocery bird, they are more 'toothsome'.
 

Ridgerunner

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Those are dual purpose breeds so essentially no difference because of breed. There is no "best" age for everyone. There are different things to consider.

The age you butcher can affect how you cook them. As they get older and as the hormones hit those boys in adolescence the meat gets more flavorful and develops more texture. I don't like giving specific ages because we all have different tastes and tolerances plus different cockerels hit puberty at different ages. Most people are OK with frying or grilling a 12 week old, some are OK with 14 or even 16 week olds. Then there is a window where they can be roasted. The age limits on that might depend on your technique. But in general the older they are the slower and moister they need to cook. Owe glaring exception to that is pressure cooking, that is moist but it is also hot and fast. My target age is 23 weeks and I usually bake them in a sealed pan in the oven at 250 F for about 3 hours. You can also use a crock pot or make stew or soup with any of them,, young or old. These methods are a way to turn even a tough old rooster into a good meal. They never get too old to cook but you do have to change your methods.

Some people like to butcher cockerels pretty young, maybe as young as 12 weeks to try to get them before they start to crow if they are not allowed to have roosters. Some try to butcher them pretty young before puberty hits and they start to show an interest in the girls or fighting among themselves. So behaviors can play a part.

The younger they are the less meat there is on them. At 12 weeks there is very little meat, they are mostly bone. But you can still fry or grill them and that's before most behavioral issues show up. At 16 weeks most seem to hit a fairly nice size. I choose 23 weeks because that's about when their teenage growth spurt seems to really slow down and the way I like to cook them. And I'm often looking at behaviors and growth to see which I might want to keep for a replacement for the top rooster, which will be eaten, by the way. They are never too old to eat.

How you feed them might enter into your decision. If you are buying all the food they eat you might want to go kind of early to reduce that expense. If they forage for most of what they eat then it should not cost you that much to let them grow.

Lots of variables. The best age is different for each of us because of our desires and conditions. I have no idea which is best for you. But whichever way you go I suggest you consider making broth. When I butcher I cut the bird into serving pieces for the table and save the neck, back, and other pieces specifically for broth. I also save the bones when I cook the other pieces and use them. If you cook the whole carcass use that after it becomes leftovers. Part of that is that the broth is really really good. Part of it to me is that it seems more respectful of the bird if you use more of it. It's life wasn't a waste. But that's just me.
 

RUNuts

Hatching Malted Milk Balls
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I'm in one of the no crow zones. Cockerels make it to first crow and then cooked. Not a lot of meat, but the flavor!

Other note not covered by the most excellent comments above, skinning is easier than plucking because of how little meat is there. The skin will have a lot of fat and flavor, so I will encourage you to pluck for the most return on your investment. I skin mine.

Cheers and good eating!
 

RUNuts

Hatching Malted Milk Balls
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IMO, the crispy grilled skin is the best part!!
You are not wrong. The last couple of cockerels I attempted to pluck were growing another set of feathers that I needed pliers to get a grip on. They got skinned. With 10 crowing boys, I wasn't in a position to delay butchering.

Do you cut up the bird or grill whole?
How do you time it to miss the new feathers?
 

Molpet

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You are not wrong. The last couple of cockerels I attempted to pluck were growing another set of feathers that I needed pliers to get a grip on. They got skinned. With 10 crowing boys, I wasn't in a position to delay butchering.

Do you cut up the bird or grill whole?
How do you time it to miss the new feathers?
I have a plucker, takes care of most of those feathers. But pin feathers on the wings, so the dog gets them.
If I am not freezing, I keep whole if I am roasting. Usually I do two and freeze the thighs and drumsticks because they take less room in the freezer... Cook the whole breasts. Back and neck is for stock or the dog.
 

NatJ

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Mar 20, 2017
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Is there a good age per breed to eat them?
They are edible at any age. Of course they get larger with time, but they also eat more, plus at some point the meat gets tougher, and you've got more time to get fond of them. (Or sometimes, get LESS fond of them, depending on how they act!)

Some people like to butcher cockerels pretty young, maybe as young as 12 weeks to try to get them before they start to crow if they are not allowed to have roosters.
I've had roosters crowing before 8 weeks old, and I've read of ones that crowed earlier yet. (Of course, I've also read of roosters that didn't crow until 4-6 months or later, so it really depends on the rooster.)

I've been known to butcher as young as 4-5 weeks. When I did banties that age, I got miniature "wings" from the hindquarters, and a "chicken nugget" from each half of the breast, plus heart/liver/gizzard. The reasons for butchering that young were that those banties weren't ever going to get very big, I needed to reduce numbers of birds, and banties mature early (so it was easier to tell which were the cockerels.)
 
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