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Discussion in 'General breed discussions & FAQ' started by hellbender, Dec 27, 2013.
The answer is that they are your chickens so you can process them any time you want to.
DesertChic, it depends. A New Hampshire or Delaware should be harvested near the peak of the growth curve, and while they are still young and tender. If they do not have a reasonable carcass then, they are genetically deficient. Once they begin to crow, they are @ the stag stage and are losing their tenderness fast. Many harvest their birds later in their lives, and this speaks to the breed (necessity), perception of what a carcass should be (a 1940s broiler is not what we have come to expect), genetic issues (too much feather, poor bodies, and/or slow growth rates), unrealistic expectations (many of our dual purpose birds were never meat breeds), and the desire to grow out the birds to later stages for evaluation.
I prefer cockerels to be young and tender. They are a treat. Better than we can get from the store. We harvest a few roasters. The hens and cull pullets becomes our stew meat.
You have to get to know your own birds and identify when the best time is. Watch how they grow out. The peak of the curve, generally speaking, is near the time they begin to molt out into their adult feathers. You might decide to go a little earlier, or later.
The Beilefelder should grow out similarly to a New Hampshire.
Keep in mind that some dual purpose breeds were never intended to be broilers. Dual purpose was more about extra young cockerels, a few roasters, and salvageable hens. Eliminating waste. Eating poultry meat was seasonal. The year round availability of poultry meat did not come until late.
There was some specialization of poultry meat earlier on, but they were about fattening birds in battery cages etc. etc. What I said above is not exclusively true. I am trying to put into perspective. The majority of farm flocks for a long time was more about the eggs than the meat. The meat was an extra.
Long story short: whenever you feel like it. George likes his tender young fryers. I slaughtered four cockerels the other week and they were mostly feathers and attitude, so I deboned the meat and pressure canned it for later. Hubby just loves how tender that comes out. Those cockerels were just getting on my nerves there at the end, plus I needed the space to bring youngsters out of the brooding shed. When the meaties get big enough to eat the mistakes, I will once again try to caponize so the butcher-before-it-toughens-up situation will no longer be applicable except for last audition culls. Hubby brought up what would be a fitting send-off for my 9 pound rooster, Feyd, when his time comes, and we decided that apple and sausage stuffing with an all-day slow roast would be a glorious funeral for a rooster. We also decided the best send-off for old hens would be with dumplins.
I would personally cross them with Bielefelders as their from Malines but their rare to!
Though it is certainly fine to do it whenever you want to, there is a cost. The feed is not free. When I start paying as much for poultry meat as I would steak, I feel like I am letting it get carried away. They are the most efficient at the peak or near the peak of the growth curve. If there is no meat on the bones then, then there is a problem. The birds need to be worked on. There is a problem that should not be ignored. Ignoring it does not make it go away.
The old poultry men understood this. They were a practical people, and they expected their birds to perform. They were not going to throw grain away, and could not afford to. They would turn their nose up at how we manage our flocks today.
If we are not discussing breeding for performance, then it is a different matter. The goal of breeding for performance is in a large part eliminating waste. Otherwise performance is not relevant at all.
Performance is about the numbers. It costs about 16.00-17.00 to grow a male bird to 24wks. when you consider housing, bedding, feed, etc. Fore some more, and others less. 11.00-12.00 comes in the last 12 wks., and 5.00 in the first twelve. The illustration is that it costs twice as much in the second 12 wks. as it does the first 12wks.
I realize that most just want some eggs, and to harvest a few birds, and they enjoy having the birds around. It is more than that when we are actually wanting to breed for some level of performance. You cannot ignore the numbers. The numbers tell us where we are, and whether or not we are progressing. The numbers do not lie. We will, but the numbers will not.
I decide when to butcher by feeling their breasts. When it feels like they are getting just enough meat on them, off with their heads!
Hardy chickens? We have had zero weather for weeks, up to -40 windchill. My welsummer roo has just a touch of frost bite on a couple tips, nothing on his wattles. No frostbite on my two brownleghorn girls and they have floppy combs. No problems with any of the others. My kids made me keep a gl polish we got in a 'mystery chicks bargain' I didn't want to cause I hear they are not hardy. She just started laying this week, three eggs, and it was -16 the other night without windchill. I don't know how they are still alive, and I'm still getting a few eggs everyday with no light on them.
The point is that the process has to be intentional, and it does indeed need to be a process. A system. Otherwise we are perpetually allowing the birds to dictate when, how, etc. Just feeling the breast to see when they are ready is not breeding for production. It is keeping birds and leaving them just as they are. That is not breeding. When actually breeding for production, the system in a large way has an impact on the birds themselves. It is also an aid. A tool.
There has to be markers along the path. When we make a long distance trip we plan a route. We plan to be at certain points at certain times. We eye the mile markers along the interstate. We judge our progress based on these markers. We can tell if we are going to get there or not. If we run into trouble in a city, we can evaluate a new path to get around our problem. It isn't rocket science, but it is intentional. It is thought out.
The goal has to be clear, or the path is not known. I can't just wander around and expect to get where I want to go.
Any intentional breeding has to have well defined standards. It is not breeding, if there is no standard.
It does not matter if we do not want to breed to the accepted and recognized standard. We still have to have a standard of some sort. It needs to be defined and clear. Even if it is our own standard. Otherwise, what are we doing? Nothing. That is not breeding. Throwing a couple different breeds of dogs in a kennel does not make someone a dog breeder. Now if they have a goal in mind (a standard), and they are INTELLIGENTLY making choices based on what they know and see (in other words, their experience tells them that this should offer the characteristics to accomplish their goal) then maybe they could be called a breeder. That is if they stick to it, and actually accomplish something. That is if they have a goal, a standard, and a defined path to take to get there.
NO, not blood. That would be a bright red; this is a deep brick red and looks like sand.
I dont worry too much about the state ranks. If I remember correctly, and if this is the same ranking system, RHode Island is 50th. It is as robust as any economy with a bustling airport, a large city, good restaurants, summer camps, universities and Johnson and Wales. I see the success . . . . .what bothers me more is the number of folks in need, in any state, is too many. For whatever the reasons. Perhaps we need to reach out to those interested and teach them how to feed themselves. . . . . .
shhhhhhh, dont jinks yourself. lol Winter isnt over yet.