Best Meat Breeds

NHMountainMan

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I had a question regarding scalding if I may. Can't you just steam scald them? I'm lazy and were I ever to process want a lazy way out vs boiling a big pot of water.
I processed 10 at a time - and find scalding to be efficient- overall it takes me about 15 minutes per bird. But I'm scaling up significantly next spring and I'm debating whether to process a few at a time, or bite the bullet and process 20+ every 4 weeks. That's why I'm wondering about scalding.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
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I'm not sure how you'd go about steam scalding.

Setup and tear down is the worst part to me, too. But I'm hauling out a sink table, buckets, a drum plucker, and the turkey fryer and scalding pot. Plus a card table, if I'm doing more than a couple. The turkey fryer isn't that bad to set up and put away, really. I leave mine connected to the tank, so all I'm doing is carrying it back and forth from the garage and grabbing the pot and thermometer. I also use a probe thermometer with a wire and an alarm, so it beeps at me when it hits 140 and I don't have to keep an eye on it.
 

RUNuts

Hatching Malted Milk Balls
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May 19, 2017
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Can I ask - if you process 2-7 per day, do you still scald the birds, or dry pluck or skin? To me, the most difficult part of processing was heating the water to scald the carcass.
For the CX, yes, I scald and hand pluck. Yes, the water takes a while to heat up. Start it first thing. Go eat breakfast, check temperature, set up the rest, check temperature and start. The selected birds are grabbed off the roost and spend the night in a dog crate. Keep in mind that I am attempting to stay relaxed and unrushed. Setup and cleanup time isn't a huge concern.

For the 12 week old, crowing, unmannered cockerels, I scalded the first two and attempted to hand pluck and then gave up and skinned the rest. All of them were growing another set of feathers and I had to pull each one out by itself. Bad timing.

I second Ridgerunner's suggestion of all cockerels. They get larger than the girls. If you live in an area where crowing is allowed, get a batch of DP boys and grow them out for 16-20 weeks. I live in a no crowing zone and pushed my luck with hatchlings. Small carcasses but extremely tasty. The sole cockerel left grew out to 14 weeks and that 2 weeks made a huge difference in size. The ones that matured fastest started crowing at 11 weeks. Then everyone started. The sole cockerel was from a broody hatch about 3 weeks behind the incubator hatch. Same father as the others and I'm glad he crowed less.

CX are butchered at 8 weeks and haven't even thought about crowing. May factor in for you. Does for me. Try them all. I am.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
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I used to scald and pluck but where I was doing it was a bit of a fire hazard, near a shed with straw for mulch used in the garden. I'd start the water heating and then do all the set-up. Sometimes I was still waiting for water to heat when I was ready, especially on cooler days. I generally do 5 to 7 at a time, roughly 5 month old cockerels, 8 month old pullets, or "spent" hens. I cut them into serving pieces as I butcher and my wife prefers them skinless. They go through a couple of juvenile molts, and the spent hens are generally molting when I butcher them. Plucking a molting bird is no fun. Now I just skin them all. It works better for me.
 

AllenK RGV

Chicken Addict
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Jul 23, 2017
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This is about the most basic and simplistic buildout of a"rocket stove" I have seen I didn't watch past the 2:35 mark to see if they covered the front blocks for air regulation or adding in a 1 inch air space using something like hardware cloth as needed to supply your fuel with oxygen. I also would go one block higher than these folks did.

But I like free and have plenty of free cured sticks to use for fuel on the property. I certainly wouldn't waste money on a turkey fryer or gas tank refills when I can spend 15-20 bucks one time and then have the rest for free to scald birds.

Edit-Opps forgot the link:
 
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Acre4Me

Free Ranging
Nov 12, 2017
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Good info above. I’ll add:

while Cornish x are more tender and similar to grocery type, I would have to disagree they are “mushy”. Grocery store birds often have adds, such as saline solution, etc, and I often find cheap grocery birds “mushy” but not home processed Cornish x.

Cornish cross have best feed/meat return, and have fewer feathers. More white meat, and some strains remain more active than others.

Dual purpose have their own positives that you cannot get from a Cornish, but I’d recommend sticking with known breeds good for quantity of meat on their frame, such as the list mentioned previously (New Hampshire, rocks, Buckeyes, etc). If you ever find yourself butchering a Leghorn, you’ll see right away why they are not considered dual purpose bc they are quite lean in the chicken world.

since you are new to butchering, I’d recommend 12 or less. We did 12 our first time and it took much longer than expected, and only 4-6 were hand plucked, the rest were skinned.

If you plan to butcher and throw away the bits and pieces, don’t do it the day AFTER the trash gets picked up....try to do it closer to trash pick-up day. Ask me how I know :sick

Good luck.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
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while Cornish x are more tender and similar to grocery type, I would have to disagree they are “mushy”. Grocery store birds often have adds, such as saline solution, etc, and I often find cheap grocery birds “mushy” but not home processed Cornish x.
Yes exactly. This is why I do some Cornish X and not just my DP culls. My parents really, really, really prefer "grocery store" type chicken and do NOT like chicken that has "more flavor" or is a little chewier or toothsome. And they aren't into dark meat at all. Store birds, unless you're going to a specialty store or higher end grocery, are all brined. My mother is in kidney failure, I try to cut salt wherever possible because all those things add up when you're taking a brined bird and then using a can of this and a can of that, etc. Plus, store birds are usually right around 4lbs, sometimes lighter, and at least 10% of that weight is brine. I can grow my own Cornish X to 5lbs plus without any brine, and I feel like that's a much better value. And if I want to flavor one with a brine, *I* can do it how I choose, for one day.
 

Mosey2003

Crowing
Apr 13, 2016
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North-Central IL
Also, the nice thing about the dual purpose birds is that while their breasts are much much much smaller than the Cornish X, depending on how you eat chicken that can be a feature rather than a bug. If you're good with a filet knife, those thin breasts are actually really handy for things like sandwiches or salads, because they're thin enough to cook quickly. Cornish X breasts really should be sliced down if you want to put them on a sandwich. Or pounded out and cut. But, if you mostly use the breasts as fried chicken or if you usually cut into chunks for casseroles, the DP ones wouldn't be ideal for that.
 

Ridgerunner

Free Ranging
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
24,310
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Southeast Louisiana
while Cornish x are more tender and similar to grocery type, I would have to disagree they are “mushy”. Grocery store birds often have adds, such as saline solution, etc, and I often find cheap grocery birds “mushy” but not home processed Cornish x.
That brings up an interesting to me point. You age a bird to get past rigor mortis. Marinading a bird adds flavor but the acid in the marinade also breaks down fibers, makes it less toothsome. If you leave a young tender bird in it too long it can make it mushy.

My understanding with brining was that the salt caused the meat to hold moisture. Not very important if you are cooking it with a moist method but quite helpful if you use a drier method like fry or grill. Of course you can use different brining recipes that might also marinade, but you've got me wondering if the salt in brining helps tenderize the meat. I would not expect the commercial operations to add anything special to their brine to tenderize, 6 to 8 week old chicken doesn't need it and it would just run up their costs.
 

RUNuts

Hatching Malted Milk Balls
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May 19, 2017
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Eastern Houston
This is about the most basic and simplistic buildout of a"rocket stove" I have seen I didn't watch past the 2:35 mark to see if they covered the front blocks for air regulation or adding in a 1 inch air space using something like hardware cloth as needed to supply your fuel with oxygen. I also would go one block higher than these folks did.

But I like free and have plenty of free cured sticks to use for fuel on the property. I certainly wouldn't waste money on a turkey fryer or gas tank refills when I can spend 15-20 bucks one time and then have the rest for free to scald birds.

Edit-Opps forgot the link:
I'm playing with the rocket stoves also. Small combustion chamber has to be tended and fed quite often and if I'm doing everything myself, could be challenging keeping the water hot. With the propane burner, I can't turn it down enough so it gets turned off, used and have to relight it every 2-5 birds.

Do spray the carcasses down before putting them in the water. Wets the feathers to keep your water level up and knocks most of the icky bits off. CX get icky with lots of room. In confined spaces, they get gross.

Acre4me makes a great point. DP and heritage breeds have LOTS of feathers compared to CX. Ducks have more and they are water resistant.
 
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