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Delawares as Meat Birds

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by JacobsRewardFarm, Jun 29, 2007.

  1. JacobsRewardFarm

    JacobsRewardFarm Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 29, 2007
    Parker, TX
    I'm very new to chickens and new to this board. You all are very helpful!

    So far I've had success with my two adult layers, and I've brooded my first small batch of junior layers (barred rocks and ameraucanas--8 total) who just turned 10 weeks old.

    Bouyed on that success, I've built a tractor out of pvc for the pasture and have tonight received 25 Delaware chicks, destined for the freezer.

    I chose Delawares because I support all the rare breed livestock I can, and I read that Delawares grow pretty fast for non-cornish chickens. I didn't trust Cornish to survive out in the tractor where they have to forage for a bit of their food.

    My plan is to move them out to the tractor when they are 4-5 weeks old and then butcher at 12 weeks. Does that seem reasonable? Should I wait until 16 weeks? Or maybe weigh them at 12 and see how big they've gotten? (They are straight run.)

    Thanks for all the butchering tips - I'm collecting the ideas and planning my strategy and "set up." Gonna see what I'm made out of.

    Cindy T. in TX
    Jacob's Reward Farm
    (2 donkeys, 4 alpacas, 2 sheep, herding dog, barn cat, pet guinea pig, 10 layers, 25 meat Delawares)
     
  2. Slim

    Slim Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 16, 2007
    Portage Michigan
    I don't have any experience with the Delawares, but according to McMurray's Delaware page, its a "medium" heavy breed developed from Barred Rocks crossed with New Hampshires . I have experience with White and Barred Rocks so I'll go from there.

    My barred Rocks aren't as big as they could be untill they reach 6 months. And 6 month old birds are not roasting/frying quality. They are just too stringy. They stew up with some dumplings fairly well though. Just start cooking the meat in the morning, by suppertime it'll be good.

    I butcher my Rock roosters at 14 weeks and I'd say that at that stage the meat is just starting to get firm. Not quite stringy, but almost. The bird, at 14 weeks, aren't the size of a 8 week Cornish Coss. As long as you don't expect a roaster anywhere near the size of grocery store Cornish Crosses, you wont be disapointed.

    The flavor is stronger, leaning towards gamey. I think the flavor is better, but some think it's a little strong, my wife thinks they taste "old". Everyone however loves the chicken soup these birds make. And soup is a good way to beat the stringy-ness-nk you should expect roast.

    I'd say butcher one at 10 weeks and evaluate the situation then. Is the bird too small? (remember it will never butcher out as big as a Cornish Cross) Is the meat texture acceptable? If it's close to being too firm, then it may be time to butcher them all, regardless of size. If you think the meat isn't too close to being tough, wait 2 more weeks and evaluate again. I would think though, that 14 weeks is abiout the limit on a roasting bird unless youve caponized them.

    Doing the "test birds" this way is also a good way to intoduce yourself to butchering. It took me almost 2 hours to butcher my first bird. Now it's about 15 minutes after the scalding water is hot. I can't imagine what I'd done if I'd tried to clean more than one bird on that first day.

    I can butcher 8 or 10 a day before I just get tired of the whole ordeal. I suppose if I had some help plucking, I could get through 25 at a sitting. Really its the tedium more than anything else that bothers me.

    As far as killing the things, I'm a lop their heads off kinda guy. I tried wringing a neck once, but I kept chickening out (pun intended), and after 2 tries I decided it would be more humane to just get the axe.

    Well I'll shut up now. I hope that helped a bit.
    ______

    Slim
    ______
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2007
  3. JacobsRewardFarm

    JacobsRewardFarm Out Of The Brooder

    76
    1
    29
    Jun 29, 2007
    Parker, TX
    Thanks, Slim - that gives me lots of good info! I was going off the description of Delawares from the ALBC site as well as the hatcheries, where they touted the Delaware's "quick growth.... fast feathering of chicks.... quiet, calm disposition... etc." That all sounded good to me.

    Butchering... great idea to do a test bird. I had pretty much decided on skinning, rather than plucking, but as in everything you do for the first time, experience will tell the tale. I do have a couple of friends who SAY they'll help me when the time comes. I hope that works out. I really just want to get it over with. But the test bird idea really makes sense, on several levels - practice my technique, and sample the flavor and texture of the meat.

    I have 8 pullets (barred rocks and Ameraucanas) who are about 3 months old. Future layers. They really are still pretty small if I had to butcher them today. Hmmm. There's a lot to this "grow your own meat" thing!

    Right now I'm just admiring the 25 little puffballs brooding on the back porch!

    Really appreciate all the help! [​IMG]
    Cindy T. in TX
    Jacob's Reward Farm
    Parker, TX
    www.treasures4spinners.com
     
  4. mlheran

    mlheran Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have a Delaware pullet who's about four months old, and while she's grown quite well I wouldn't consider her "filled out" enough for eating. It sounds like a really good idea to weigh them as they grow and do some test birds. I imagine they won't be as plump and tender as a CornishX, but they'll probably have good flavor and very little health problems. Keep us posted with how it goes, I'm really intested to hear how the Delawares fare as I'm considering raising some meat birds next year. Good luck!
     

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