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Butchering 17 week old Buff Orps and New Hampshire Reds?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by aealbin, Aug 13, 2018.

  1. aealbin

    aealbin Chirping

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    Hey all,
    This is my first go round with raising chickens. These chicks hatched 17 weeks ago and I got 6 each, straight run Buff Orps, New Hampshire reds, and Silver-laced Wyandottes. I ended up with 4 BO & NHR roos, and 3 SLW roos. I let them free range but there are just too many and they are starting to get really aggressive. I think 3-4 are crowing. A BO & NHR seem to be the ones in charge, and the BO is just plain and simple a dick. We want to butcher the roosters and maybe keep one (although the NHR that we picked to keep has started attacking my 3 & 5 year old daughters).

    I just don't think we will be able to keep what peace there is much longer. I started supplementing with meatbird feed about 3-4 weeks ago when I noticed the top two boys having their way with the welsummer pullets. I put out about 4-5 cups worth in their run each morning and their feeder in the coop has chick starter. Since we don't have the space to separate, can I start thinning them out now? Take the biggest jerk (also the appears to be the heaviest) this week and see what happens to the dynamics, or is it better to struggle through and try to make it to 20 weeks? The SLW roosters are tiny, obviously not ready and are at the bottom of the hierarchy. The welsummer and easter egger pullets rarely come out of the coop because the roosters seem to prefer them. We can get close to them but not touch so it will be interesting trying to catch them, plus they're scared of me since I chase after them when they go after my daughters. Advice welcome.
     
    rjohns39 likes this.
  2. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    For the sake of your pullets you need to remove those guys from the flock or start butchering them pronto. They could really injure your girls with there being so many of them. They will never be the size of Cornish x meat birds so be prepared for that and they will only get tougher as they get older and hormones start to rage, especially when they are free range, so definitely start now with the biggest heaviest ones. I would probably have started at a couple of weeks ago. I pick them off the roost at night and place them in a cardboard box that has ventilation holes in it and bedding and close it up and put it somewhere predator proof overnight like a shed or garage. Cover it with a tarp to keep it dark and they will stay calm until you are ready to butcher them, even if it is the afternoon. Just make sure not to leave them them somewhere hot if you are not processing till later in the day. If you use individual cardboard boxes for each one that you are going to butcher then the others will stay calm and quiet until you go to get them. If you are chasing them around the pen trying to catch them right before you butcher them then that is going to stress them and you and just not necessary.
    Have everything prepared before you get the first one out of his box and it should all goes smoothly.
    Good luck. You will get better with practise and no doubt figure out a system which works best for you. Do be prepared for after death spasms if you have not butchered before. It can be a bit alarming if you are not used to it.
     
  3. aealbin

    aealbin Chirping

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    Thank you so much for the advice! We will gather what we need and probably go down one or two in the next few nights.
     
    rjohns39, Rose Quartz and rebrascora like this.
  4. Morrigan

    Morrigan Crowing

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    :goodpost:

    I've found 15-16 weeks a good butchering age for extra cockerels, but I've done ones as young as 10 weeks if they are causing problems in the flock. The small amount of extra weight they will gain is barely worth the feed, much less the stress to the flock.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes.
     
  5. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing 7 Years

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    If you keep cockerels to cock bird age then your intent is to breed them. You want to breed the largest in most cases. This will provide meatier carcass in next generation.

    Don't take out the largest first. Cull all the runts and few mid sized. You'll see marked improvement in flock behavior once the ratio of males is reduce severely.

    Take my word, it's not the size of bird that causes the problems rather numbers of birds. If you are culling males do so from smallest up.
     
  6. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Crowing 7 Years

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    Oh, and in future if you hach or purchase more start culling young K's age 12 weeks. After age 14 weeks they are no longer worth grilling and can only be fried or roasted.
     
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  7. Morrigan

    Morrigan Crowing

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    Personally, I would amend that to breed the largest that otherwise meet your behavior criteria -- ones that don't attack you or your children, etc.
     
  8. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

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    Why do you want any males? The only reason you need a male is for fertile eggs. Everything else is just personal preference. Some people wouldn't have a flock without a rooster even if they don't want fertile eggs. Others are extremely happy to not have any rooster's with their flocks. Some people can feel quite strongly about their personal preferences but theirs does not count for you, you preferences are what counts. I suggest you keep as few males as you can and still meet your goals. For some people that answer is zero.

    There is no reason you have to hold those males until 20 weeks of age. Some butcher a lot younger, I like to wait a bit longer. Their are several different factors that go into your decision as to when to butcher. The age you butcher helps determine how much meat you get and how you need to cook it. How you feed and manage them or your facilities can have a big effect. We are all unique in how we manage chickens.

    What I suggest, once you determine your goals with roosters, is to start eating the ones that don't meet your goals. Any cockerel that attacks my grandkids would be at the top of that list with a sense of urgency. You can take out one or a few at a time, whatever is most convenient for you. It might (or might not) mess up their dominance order so there could be some fighting, but maybe that will help you determine the next round.

    Good luck!
     
  9. aealbin

    aealbin Chirping

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    Thanks all for your suggestions. They were duely noted. We thinned out the 3 biggest terrors today. The change in flock behavior was almost immediate. It was a steep learning curve but by #3 we had started figuring out a process that worked for us. The biggest offender had so much fat on him he must have been hogging all the feed.

    I had searched on here about when to process dual purpose birds and the most common recommendation was 20 weeks.

    2018-08-14 21.21.07.jpg
     
  10. rebrascora

    rebrascora Crowing

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    Well done!

    What have you been feeding them? It sounds like they have not been getting enough protein or too much carbohydrate if they had a lot of fat.
     
    rjohns39 likes this.

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