Considering Meat Birds... have a few questions.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by OHChick, Aug 2, 2007.

  1. OHChick

    OHChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2007
    Hi, I have some NH Reds that are nearly 12 weeks old for eggs. They have been a lot less trouble than we anticipated and its going so well that I'm considering getting some meat birds. A couple of questions I had are as follows:

    1) Around what age do you slaughter them?
    2) Are hens tastier than roos? Or does it matter?
    3) Do they eat medicated chick feed when they're babies like other babies? Or is there a special meat bird supplement? (Like with cattle we had to feed them out before they were going to be slaughtered.)
    4) Do you ever have them butchered into like boneless breasts? or the other types of boneless meat you'd find at the grocery? If so, what's the avg cost to have that done?

    I really feel that home-fed, free range birds are treated better than what you'd get at Wal-Mart or Kroger and think I should go for it, but just was curious what you all think.

    Thanks in advance, I appreciate any advice you might have.
     
  2. Country Gal

    Country Gal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Capac, MI
    I can't answer all your questions, but I can tell you what I know:

    The cornish x can be butchered by 8 weeks, and I think that if you want a bigger bird, they can go up to 12 weeks

    I believe there is a different food altogether for the meat birds... broiler feed... and from what I understand from a friend of mine that does meat birds, feed them 12 hours on, 12 hours off. The meat birds will eat until they have a stroke.

    Not sure about butchering them specifically as you have described. There is a husband and wife team by me that butchers birds... they charge $1.30 per bird, they do it while you wait, the cost includes:

    Slaughter
    Feather
    Gut
    Bag

    In the end, you end up with a bunch of whole birds going into the freezer. I have one of the George Foreman Rotisseries, and last week I bought a bird from my friend Mike, thawed it, marinated it, and threw it in the George for and hour and a half. It was yummy!
     
  3. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Quote:8 weeks is typical for Cornish X's. They push 10 pounds live weight at 10 weeks. Consider that many chickens you buy from your grocery store are 42 days old!

    Quote:It makes no difference. At 8 weeks, you won't even be able to tell them apart. Having a straight run also gives you some variation in size. Sometimes you want a big bird when you're entertaining, sometimes a small one when it's just 2 people eating.

    Quote:You can elect to use medicated chick feed, or elect not to. At your feed store, they will have either a "broiler feed" or a "fryer feed" which already has the higher protien that meat birds need. It's usually also available medicated or non-medicated. You do not "finish" chickens. They stay on the same feed from start to finish.

    Quote:You'll find that most places will only do whole birds for you, and then they come only bagged and chilled. In order to turn chickens into cuts, you must be an approved poultry "processor" to do so. These do at least 20,000 birds per year and are USDA inspected. So, unless things are radically different where you live, you'll only get your chickens whole.

    Quote:That's pretty much why we're all doing it! I've been able to sell my pastured chickens very easily at the Farmer's Market as well, so it can even be lucrative. The flavor is different and the texture can be stringier. But, once you're used to chicken meat that tastes of chicken, the stuff at the chain supermarkets will be insipid, sloppy and tasteless.
     
  4. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Yep, I would learn how to butcher yourself as it's really not that hard. Plus, it will save you lots of money. Those meat birds eat a ton of food.
     
  5. OHChick

    OHChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 8, 2007
    Thanks for the info! Greyfields, I checked out your website, you guys are quite the farmers. We only have a small farm, mainly alpacas. We tried raising cattle but just don't have enough room, so we sold our 2 girls and slaughtered the one steer. That is some good beef! If the chicken meat is as good as the cow, it'd be well worth it.

    As far as butchering, I keep forgetting that my one neighbor is a UPS driver by day but he used to be a butcher. He has mentioned to me in the past that he'd be glad to butcher anything for me, so maybe I could talk Dave into doing the chickens if I decide to raise some.

    Saw you also rescue Greyhounds... that's great! We have 3 dogs but one is a whippet. He's my sweet little boy. I have always thought that when his time is up, I'd like to get a rescued greyhound.

    Again, thanks to all of you for your help. Now I just need to convince DH that meat birds are a good idea. LOL. Wish me luck!
     
  6. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

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    Well farming is not our day job! It consumes our evening and weekends. But, it is a good stress, rather than like a workplace bad stress. It's also addictive and constructive at the same time. My real reason for farming is that I'm a "greedy gut". It's all about the food.

    Retired greyhounds are exceptional pets. When we started adopting them, we were in a small condo in Seattle. They're perfect indoor dogs. Now that they have more space, they're just as happy since they spend about 98% of their time asleep on the couch. Sometimes are cats even wonder how anything could sleep so much and tap them to make sure they're alive. We love them to bits, but are seriously considering a border collie to help with herding the animals.

    I hope you find your meat birds to be excellent. The meat will be a little stringier than you're used to, but you'll quickly crave the flavor over and over.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2007
  7. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    That is soo cool. Some day I'd like to run a working farm on the side of stress work life!
     

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